I'm out here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Whilst the show has gotten off to a slow start, I am expecting to see some cool stuff over the next couple of days.
One of the most interesting things about these kinds of trade shows is that it affords people like me the chance to get down and dirty with the people that are designing and making the enthusiast products that you guys love. We can give them feedback on what we know bit-tech readers think of their products, and they can tell us their ideas of how the industry is moving forward.
"Portable media is another huge theme."
2005 certainly looks like it's going to be an interesting year from an enthusiast perspective. Speaking to some of the hardware companies, they know that 2004 was pretty bizarre, in many ways. Whilst there was a huge graphical leap forward in performance, there was perhaps less innovation. On the flipside, CPUs saw a great deal of innovation - with the first look at dual-core chips - but didn't see much of an increase in terms of performance.
These companies are aware that they really have to deliver something incredible in 2005 to keep the momentum of the industry going, and they are looking to new applications of technology to drive that adoption. Gaming is, of course, one of the major driving factors when it comes to technology adoption, and it's no wonder that we are seeing more and more tech firms joining up with games companies and gaming clans to promote their products. We had the chance to take a good look at the latest motherboard from Abit, which is designed and endorsed by pro-gamer Fatal1ty. It's clear that the performance and design is something special, and is really something that sets Abit apart from other companies making motherboards.
This kind of specialisation is also something we expect to see more of. With companies like DFI, MSI and Abit working so hard to woo hardcore computer users, I really expect that we will see players drop out of this market in 2005. If you are an overclocker, it can be difficult to justify buying anything other than DFI for your rad rig, and gamers can say the same about Abit. From a personal perspective, I expect 2005 to be the year that we cut the mediocre products out of our group tests here at bit-tech and get straight down to showing you the coolest stuff.
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My resolution for the new year is to spend more time at the gym working out, and this is something I am going to apply to my computers too - I want them working harder and breaking into a sweat more often. That means using them for far more than just internet and gaming - I want all my TV and video through my PC too. Lucky, then, that 2005 is finally bringing an explosion of PCs driven by Microsoft Media Centre. Say what you like about the chaps at MS, but they can sure as heck design a cool bit of interface. I've been drooling over a Media Centre PC since they hit the shelves, and the current generation has really hit the nail on the head with HD audio support and the ability to integrate dual TV tuners into the system. I want one of those bad boys to make sure I never miss an episode of 24.
"2005 certainly looks like it's going to be an interesting year from an enthusiast perspective."
Here at the show, portable media is another huge theme. Whilst I have my own personal (and rather biased) doubts that anything will be able to unseat the mighty iPod from its throne as King of MP3 players, the market for portable video is entirely different. I had the chance to use one of the new Creative Portable Media Centre units yesterday, and it blew me away. Awesome video quality and a gorgeous interface have convinced me that portable video really is a viable platform and isn't just some kind of gimmick. With Microsoft's announcement yesterday that it's going to work with Tivo to get recorded TV onto these devices, 2005 could really be the year.
Well, enough rambling. I've got a full day ahead of me, and I'm due to take in the latest from all the top companies like Nvidia, ATI, Intel and AMD. After all that is done, I might force myself to go take a look at the 'Adult Entertainment' convention that is in town. After all, industry analysts always say that the adult industry drives technology forward. Err, don't they?