CES 2011: What's of interest to government users?

New chips, tablets and 4G devices among the products on the floor

The International Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas this week and there are sure to be a few devices on the display floor this year that could make its ways into your agency within the next few years.

Whether it comes in the form of commercial off-the-shelf products and services or the technology that powers various smart devices, there is always a little something for everyone, including the government, at CES. Let’s take a look at some of the top products expected to be revealed this week.

Chips

This is not the sexy portion of the show, but the new entrants in the microchip wars have the most likelihood of infiltrating your agency. Expected announcements this week come from the two most entrenched PC and server chip makers, Intel and AMD.

Intel has announced a new line of PC chips that go by the name Sandy Bridge. The chips are the second generation of the i3, i5 and i7 Intel Core CPU chips that debuted last year and aim to replace the Nehalem architecture based chips of previous models dating to 2008. According to the Crave blog at CNET.co.uk, the chips will be quad-core processors and feature improved graphic capabilities, greater speed and efficiency.

On the other end, perpetual runner-up in the PC chip market, AMD, will unveil its Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) family of chips. These multi-core processors are said to combine CPU and GPU capabilities and are aimed at desktop and laptop PCs. AMD expects major technology makers (Asus, Acer, Dell, Samsung etc.) to deploy Fusion APU products within the next year in the more affordable range of the market, which could make for interesting new equipment available to federal COTS purchasers.

In the mobile sector, it's all about ARM-based architecture, with major players Qualcomm (Snapdragon processor), Nvidia (Tegra 2) and Texas Instruments (Open Multimedia Application Platform) all fighting for dominance in the market. Intel’s mobile chip, the Atom, is also struggling to compete in this market. Smart phones and tablet devices in the near future will run on dual-core processors, some of which may debut this week at CES.

Tablets

If you follow the tech world, it seems like everyone and their cousin should be toting an uber-cool tablet computer by now. While that is nowhere near the case, the CES showroom floor should be filled with all manner of slate devices from the fringe players in the technology industry as well as some of the major players.

Of interest to government users will be if Research in Motion (RIM) addresses any updates to its forthcoming Playbook tablet. During RIM’s most recent earnings call, the company said that it did not expect any revenues from the Playbook in its next quarter, which puts the release date of the BlackBerry tablet somewhere around April or May at this point. There have been reports of RIM having issues with battery power, something the company has denied. RIM has released another demo of the Playbook, this time featuring browser, video and social media capabilities.


Related coverage:

Blackberry Playbook tablet delayed till spring

Are tablets the tombstone for Microsoft? 


Of the most interest in the consumer tablet sector is the Motorola tab featuring Honeycomb -- Android version 3.0. Honeycomb is the first version of Google’s mobile operating system that has been optimized for a tablet-sized device the same way that Apple optimized its iOS to the iPad. Motorola has been a strong player in the Android ecosystem (along with HTC and Samsung) and its Droid line of phones are near the top of market. Other Android tablets generating buzz have included Vizio’s surprise entry. The company will show off a bunch of new products during the week .

Hewlett-Packard could surprise at CES with a tablet version of the webOS software it acquired when it bought Palm last year, though there have only been minor rumors thus far about what products HP has in that department.

Verizon Wireless and 4G devices

Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks are becoming more ubiquitous as Verizon and AT&T invest in bandwidth and infrastructure support. Verizon is expected to announce perhaps a half-dozen 4G devices to come out later this year, and CEO Ivan Seidenberg has a keynote address on Thursday. For the most part right now, the only phones that are truly 4G capable have been Android devices and nearly all of those are from Sprint or T-Mobile (HTC Evo, Samsung Galaxy S Epic, respectively). Sprint’s “4G” network is based on of its investment in Clearwire and its bandwidth. Clearwire employs WiMax standard 4G, which has been the first to hit the market in any meaningful way but it looks like the carriers, possibly including Sprint, are going to focus on LTE as the future of mobile broadband connections.

Seidenberg’s keynote could be of interest to federal agencies that rely on commercial bandwidth for employees’ mobile phones. At the same time, Apple has not yet released an LTE-capable phone and there have not even been any substantial rumors of any type of BlackBerry device ready to run LTE or WiMax.

As BlackBerry is the most common smart device among federal users, it does not look good in the near future for high(er) speed mobile broadband for the rank-and-file federal employee. Apple will probably be the best choice, as the company does have specific devices being tested for Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 security protocols at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is doubtful that Seidenberg will intimate anything about a possible Verizon iPhone (or fear the wrath of Apple CEO Steve Jobs) and Apple will not even be present at CES because the company traditionally holds its own product announcement event later in the month.

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gives the traditional CES keynote before the show floor opens and it is expected that he will give consumers a very early glance at Microsoft Windows 8. Considering that Windows 7 is still being implemented in enterprise environments and that its marketing campaign is still in full bore, do not expect Windows 8 to appear any time before the end of 2011, more likely sometime in 2012.

Ballmer is also expected to talk tablets with possible Windows 7 (and perhaps Windows Phone 7) versions coming from companies such as Dell and Samsung.

Miscellaneous

Internet and 3-D televisions will be ubiquitous on the show room floor and there is a little buzz going around about what kind of new technology will be in the vehicular showroom. There will be a plethora of new smart phones with a couple running Android’s newest phone Version 2.3, Gingerbread.

What are you curious to see at CES 2011?

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Reader Comments

Sat, Jan 8, 2011 Alex K Waterloo, ON

Thanks for the CES highlights, Dan. The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s battery life is still being optimized and we’re on track with our launch schedule. BlackBerry PlayBook customers will receive a professional-grade tablet with superior performance, security and comparable battery life upon release. If you can, be sure to stop by our booth at CES to chat (South Hall 30320) and see the PlayBook firsthand. Cheers! Alex from RIM

Thu, Jan 6, 2011

Depends on the definition of "4G." Of which, there isn't a definition for 4G. Hence, HSPA networks getting the 4G label.

Thu, Jan 6, 2011

But T-Mobile is not really 4G

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