Friday, January 14, 2005

Macworld and CES 2005

The past 2 weeks have been very exciting for those who idolize electronics and wish to live very digital lifestyles (like me). Conventions like these are always filled with promises of a better tomorrow and I am honored to live in such a digital age. The Consumer Electronics Show gave a chance for the world's greatest software and hardware companies, like Sony, Microsoft, AMD, Intel, Infinium Labs, Sandisk, Logitech, LG, Motorolla, nVidia, and ATI, just to name a few, to give their insights on what's to come in 2005 and beyond, but most importantly, to show off their latest toys.

On the gaming side:
Although Next-Box (XBOX 2) was not mentioned, like initially anticipated, Bill Gates was happy to mention how sucessful Halo 2 is, how North American sales of XBOX have finally caught up with Sony's Playstation 2, and was able to talk about XBOX's role in integrating Media Centre into the living room. You can watch the video here. (Open the link in Windows Media Player)

Bill Gates with Conan O'Brien

Infinium Labs demoed the Phantom console, and their online gaming service which allows you to purchase and download all your games online. One advantage to this is that they will have 500 titles available at launch, but I think they will have a hard time convincing the public that downloading games will be more convenient that the standard- going to a store, and buying a game. You can watch the video here. (Open the link in Windows Media Player)

Infinium Labs' Phantom

During Sony's press conference, we were expecting them to shine light on details of the North American launch of PSP like date and price. Their general answers? "some time soon" and "not much". The press and general public are quite disapointed by this. Their presentation of the PSP was nothing new either. Other than inviting hip-hop star Xzibit to show off a few multimedia capabilities of the PSP such as picture viewing, music playing and movie watching, Sony didn't 'wow' the crowd like they did during E3 2004 where they introduced the PSP. You can watch the video here. (Open the link in Windows Media Player)

Sony's Kaz Hirai with Xzibit

In short, the gaming scene was not that big of a hit for CES. We'll just have to wait for E3 2005 in May, where all 3 competing gaming giants are expected to awe the world with their next-gen console: Nintedo with Revolution, Sony with PS3 and Microsoft with NextBox/Xenon/XBOX 2, whatever you want to call it. However, the rest of CES was full of awesomeness. If only I had the dough.

High executive screw-ups at CES 2005 were:
1) When Kaz Hirai (President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment) was forcing a memory stick into the PSP the wrong way. When he realized, his reply was "I just work here".
2) When Bill Gates (Chairman of Microsoft Corporation) couldn't get a remote control to work and Conan O Brien said "I don't know who's running things here.. Who's in charge of Microsof- oh.."

Many people say "Microsoft is going to take over the world" as if it's something bad. In my opinion, I think Microsoft is a company that is taking a lot of initiative to get things done. They are 'taking over the world' simply because no one else is. When they force their technologies on others, forcing others to comply with their standards, it's better than having no standards at all. Microsoft's partnerships with other industry players in the home entertainment industry will only bring a better tomorrow in the living room. Microsoft is the only company powerful enough to integrate everything to work together and that begins with PlaysForSure. The world would definately not be better off if everyone had linux on their desktops. People simply would not use computers if that was so. In forcing Windows upon consumers, they've made the choice for us when we didn't know how to choose. In introducing the Media Center PC, Microsoft is giving us more of a reason to be in the living room, as like they did giving us the reason to be on a PC. One day we'll look back and see how out-dated the current setup and layout of DVDs are. No words can describe how great a company Microsoft is. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer once dance around like and money said "I love this company". I always wondered why someone would ever do that but now I know.

As for MacWord 2005:
Apple = eye candy. If you've ever seen an iPod mini or iBook or used Mac OSX, you'll be immidiately drawn into it's sheer beauty. Now they are introducing the iPod shuffle, a flash based portable music/data device. If you love Apple stuff and currently don't own a portable USB flash drive, there is no reason you would not get one. $99 (USD) for 512mb is a steal. There is no doubt that Apple will gain a large amount of flash-based music players market share. They are also coming out with the Mac mini, a Mac the size of text book. It is very sleek and ultra portable. On the side of software, Apple is introducing the iWork Suite, a set of really cool programs that are worth their money. iWork again defines what great innovative software Apple develops for their machines. It will come with Mac OSX Tiger, along with some really cool tools such as Spotlight. However, I still think Microsoft, with all it's might and power, will bring much more in Longhorn, the next major Windows release coming in 2006 earliest. You should watch the complete keynote, even if you're not a fan of Macs.

The Mac mini

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Microsoft Bloopers at CES 2005

It was not all fun and games at the Consumer Electronics Show 2005, which ran from January 6-9 in Las Vegas. If you haven't heard/read/seen already, Bill Gates must be one super pissed off guy right about now because of the technical problems they encountered during Microsoft's keynote address. Not only was Bill Gates riddled 1 2 by Conan O'Brien when they tried to start a start a slideshow and the remote failed to work, but the infamous BSOD (blue screen of death) actually poped up when a Microsoft representative tried to show off Forza Motorsport, their answer to Sony's Gran Turismo series. You'd think Microsoft learned their lesson in Comdex 1998, where they demoed Windows 98, but no. A Microsoft employee, Sean Alexander, who works on the Media Center Team, has written up on his blog exactly what went wrong: Apparently the Media Center demos are run from one machine located on the other side of the stage from Bill and what they did was run a USB IR receiver all the way across the stage to where Bill was sitting. Then, during the show, one of two things happened: either a) the stage was flooded by IR 'light' from the autofocus systems on the everyone's cameras in the audience, or b) the cable failed to send the signal all the way across the stage since it was too long.

I would have no idea what to do if I was Bill and I couldn't start a slideshow, or if I was demo-ing Forza Motorsport and my machine decided to crash. I think they handled the situations very well.

You can read the complete transcript or watch the full keynote speech straight from Microsoft's site or you can watch the short versions here or here--> Slideshow and Forza Motorsport (make sure you allow the pop-up).