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CES 2007 Photo Report
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Date: Jan 18, 2007
Section:Misc
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Entering Vegas, Samsung, Creative, and ECS

Last week a few members of the HotHardware crew hopped on a plane and headed out to sunny Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show.  We make the trek every year not only to check out the latest and greatest in consumer electronics and PC technology, but to meet face to face with representatives from many of the companies we work with throughout the year, and to rub elbows with many of our peers as well.

      

In its 40 year existence, CES has morphed into a gigantic event that fills not only the enormous Las Vegas Convention Center, but numerous suites and hotel meeting rooms surrounding the event.  The show is a great place to witness upcoming products and technology demos, but if there is something we've learned in the years that we've been covering the event is that you simply can't see it all.  CES is so huge the roughly 3.2 million square feet of the LVCC can't contain it!  And even if you spent every minute of the show walking the floor, four business days isn't enough time to soak everything in.

We think that we saw some of the hottest hardware on display at CES, however, and snapped a few pics of some of the coolest products along the way.  Feast your eyes on the technological goodness that was CES 2007...


   

While traversing the show floor, Samsung's booth caught our eyes due to the sheer number of large televisions and flat panels on display.  A couple of the most interesting products Samsung was showcasing were their VIA-powered UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC), which was also on display at the Lunch@Pieros's event, and a gargantuan 102" Plasma 1080P Television.  Personally, I'm a big TV guy and love to hunker down in front of the boob-tube with some snacks to watch a good movie, but standing in front of 102" of plasma was a different experience altogether. It felt like we were catching a sun tan standing in front of that thing. Wow. Imagine fragging away on that puppy?


Creative Lab's booth was fairly tame as far as new PC-technology went. They had pro-gamer Jonathon "Fatal1ty" Wendel perched in front of a couple of systems kickin' the stuffing out of show-goers who wanted to take a chance and try to Frag the great "Fatal1ty" in a game of Q4, but the products on display consisted mostly of Creative's existing X-Fi line of sound cards, speakers, CE devices like their Harmony remotes, and portable media players like the Zen V Plus pictured here.


   

ECS also took a laid back approach to this year's CES.  Many of the products on display in ECS' suite, which was on the strip away from the Convention Center, were products the company wouldn't be selling directly to consumers (like laptops, UMPCs, and Media Center PCs), but rather to large OEMs who would re-badge them their own. ECS also showed off a slew of motherboards and their upcoming line of graphics cards based on NVIDIA's GeForce 8 Series of GPUs. Their second-gen VIIV compliant Media Center PC (pictured here) was one of the most exciting products, however. The little box was powered by an Intel Core CPU, and featured integrated graphics, HD Audio, TV and FM tuners, and a host of inputs and outputs, including HDMI.

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LG Goes BIG and Seagate

We stopped dead in our tracks while passing by LG's booth. Not only was the company showcasing a slew of gorgeous HDTVs, but they had some interesting Blu-Ray / HD-DVD products on display as well.

   

   

We thought LG's combination HD-DVD / Blu-Ray internal drive would be of interest to the videophiles and storage buffs among you. The images at the top are of LG's Blu-Ray / HD-DVD internal Super Multi Blue drive.  And if you look close at the second picture, you can see the dual-laser pick-up assemblies which give the drive its broad compatibility.  Representatives from LG told us the drive will retail for $1199 and it should be available in the last week of February. They also had a set-top combo drive on display, as well as a nice 32" wide-screen HDTV, shown to scale alongside our very own Sean "Pelly" Pelletier. Just kiddin' folks!  That's actually a 102" LCD Sean's standing next to. :)


   

As you would expect, Seagate's booth was loaded with various products that all featured Seagate and Maxtor built storage technologies.  High speed network attached storage (NAS), personal servers, enterprise-class storage products, and high-capacity, easy to use personal backup solutions were most prominently displayed. One of the more interesting pieces of information to come from Seagate at this year's CES, however, was the company's announcement that 1TB and larger hard drives would debut this year, featuring perpendicular recording technology.  We can't wait for that.  In this day and age of digital music, movies, and pictures, you can never have enough storage.

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Intel and Dell

Intel had some really cool items on display in their booth, but some of the more exiting technology for PC enthusiasts was being shown in the company's private meeting room.

         

      

Various machines powered by Intel processors were showcased in a number of areas in Intel's booth, running games and content creation-type applications.  Intel also had a cool display of wafers dating back to their first microprocessors that explained the progression from product to product over the years. Being the geek that I am, I found the display of wafers very interesting. At one point, I was so entrenched inspecting the wafers and reading about Intel's impressive manufacturing capabilities, that the guys started making fun of me.  While they were gawking at the gaggle of hot booth babes on either side of me, my nose was two inches away from a wafer trying to make out some of the finer details. Such a geek. I can't help it.

Something else Intel was proud to show off was a dual-socket, dual-quad-core Xeon powered rig dubbed the "V8". Intel wanted to make the point that enthusiasts could have a dual-socket, eight-core Intel powered machine today if they went with a workstation platform. Look at that 3DMark06 CPU score!


      

Dell had some slick products on display in their booth as well, including a swank new quad-core powered, TEC / water hybrid-cooled XPS gaming rig, and a new 27" UltraSharp LCD. The XPS 710 H2C has a Core 2 QX6700, dual GeForce 8800 GTXs, and gobs of memory and storage at its heart. And its custom H2C cooler, which incorporates both water and thermoelectric cooling (peltiers), allows for heavy overclocking.  Someone looking for a high-end gaming rig that doesn't want to get his hands dirty building his own should check this puppy out (review coming soon). The new Dell Ultrasharp 2707WFP is another must-see product. It's got a 27" true-color screen with a native resolution of 1920x1200. If 1920x1200 on a 24" 2407 was a little too rough to read for some folks, the extra 3" of real estate on the 2707WFP should help.

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AMD and Voodoo

AMD/ATI made a couple of interesting announcements and showcased a handful of new products in their booth at CES, including the new ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner.

      

      

AMD talked about their "Better By Design" program, which is meant to eliminate some of the confusion at retail regarding AMD's open mobile-platform that, unlike Intel's Centrino, features graphics, chipsets, and wireless networking tech from a variety of partners. The decals that will be affixed to AMD-based mobile platforms will showcase the chips used in the machine, and consolidate the branding in a single decal. AMD also talked about their plan to standardize an open SFF platform dubbed, DTX. AMD's ultimate goal with DTX is easy interoperability with SFF designs.

ATI/AMD's ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner was also on display in AMD's booth. The TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner finally allows users to access protected content from digital cable providers though the use of standard CableCard technology. For now though, the ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner will only be sold as part of a bundle with a complete system that features all of the necessary DRM technology to placate the cable providers who are worried about user's stealing protected HD digital content. Hopefully, this won't be the case forever.


Voodoo Computers had a small display that was part of Hewlett Packard's booth. Voodoo didn't make any major announcements, but rather talked about their new-found resources that came by way of the merger with HP. In time, we're sure Raul and crew will have something exciting to talk about in both the desktop and mobile spaces, but CES 2007 wasn't the time or place to make any announcements. For now, you'll just have to gawk at the awesome OMEN.

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Sapphire and Abit

We showed you the highlight of Sapphire's display in an earlier news post, but it was worth talking about again because of the intriguing possibilities associated with the card.

      

Behind-close-doors in a suite away from the hustle and bustle of the LVCC, we spent some time with the folks at Sapphire and got to take a look at some of their new products not yet released to market. One product that caught our particular interest was their dual GPU-powered Radeon X1950 Pro Dual card that utilizes a pair of X1950 Pro GPUs on a single card in a pseudo-CrossFire setup. Though it is a monster design, it's pretty impressive.

In addition to dual GPUs, the card also employs a full 512MB of memory per GPU for a total of 1GB per card. Since traditional Radeon X1950 Pro configurations are setup with 256MB of on board memory, the GPU complexes should scale a little more robustly at high res with higher levels of AA.

Sapphire expects to launch this in the next month or so but we have a feeling it will be a limited release type of product. Word is a $399 price point is being targeted. And as you can see, there are CrossFire edge connectors on the top side of the card, so quad CrossFire is a possibility. Sapphire is supposedly working on quad functionality now. The hardware is capable, but driver level support is necessary. Nonetheless, it's very interesting to see a single board multi-GPU design from an ATI-AMD partner.


      

      

Abit too had an off-site display setup in a suite at the Monte Carlo. Abit was showing off a slew of motherboards, including their custom nForce 680i SLI-based IN9 32X-Max motherboard which has a couple of unique features.  In addition to the custom cooling solution and overclocking-related tools, the IN9 32X-Max features and HDMI output header (middle picture, top row). Abit was also showing off their AB9 Quad-GT, P965-based, quad-core and CrossFire compatible motherboard which features a handy clear CMOS switch in its I/O backplane. Abit's iDome speakers were on display too, along with a unique little item that would be easy to miss if you didn't look close.  In the picture at the lower-right corner, you'll see that Abit was showing off one of the world's first PCI Express x1 based WiFi network adapters.  Is that thing tiny, or what?

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PQI. A-Data, and Shuttle

As we shuffled along the show floor, we also came across a few interesting products in PQI's booth. Along with a myriad of memory kits and portable flash devices, PQI was showing off their solid state hard drives.

   

A number of solid state drives were on display in PQI's booth, of various capacities. The largest of which was a 64GB 2.5" SATA model.  The rest were IDE drives from 8GB to 32GB. Reps from PQI claimed performance of the drives wasn't up to par with standard hard drives in terms of transfer rates, but seek times showed a fast improvement. Clear pricing information wasn't available, but the 32GB IDE model was "around $1500", so the larger SATA model certainly won't be cheap.


   

No major product announcements came out of memory maker A-DATA, but while walking by their display we spotted a mean looking FB-DIMM on display. Fully Buffered DIMMs are used in high-end Intel server platforms, so they won't mean much for enthusiasts for now, but the beefy heat-spreader on A-DATA's FB-DIMMs caught our eye nonetheless.


      

The folks at Shuttle had some wild stuff on display in their suite at the Bellagio. In addition to a prototype car-computer and the new X200 media center PC, Shuttle was showcasing a number of small form factor XPCs, and the absolutely gorgeous SDXI (pictured here), which is part of the company's 1337 series of the systems. The SDXI supports Intel Core 2 processors and can run with a pair of Radeons in CrossFire mode thanks to its dual PEG slots. Additional cooling at the top of the unit keeps the cards cool.  Despite the wild flaming paint job, the SDXI was one of the coolest machines we've seen offered directly by any manufacturer.

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XFX and Coolermaster

XFX didn't have a traditional booth at CES, but they did have a display setup in the enormous World Series of Gaming tent that was just outside of the convention center.

      

XFX was showing off their brand new passively cooled Fatal1ty GeForce 7600 GT. The card sports the same large heatsink with heat-pipes as their GeForce 7950 GT, and as you'd expect its overclocked right out of the box. Actually, there will be two Fatal1ty-branded GeForce 7600 GT cards available from XFX.  One of them will feature a 560MHz GPU and 256MB of memory clocked at 1.4GHz, and the other will be clocked at an impressive 650MHz / 1.6GHz. Despite being passively cooled, at those higher-speeds, the XFX Fatal1ty GeForce 7600 GT should be the fastest 7600 card on the market.


       

The folks at CoolerMaster had a wide range of cooling products (heatsinks, fans, etc.) on display, along with a number of innovative enclosures. The one that really caught our eye though was the CM Media 280. As its name implies, the Media 280 is targeted at Media Center and HTPC users, but what makes it unique is its modular design. The case can be mounted horizontally or vertically, it supports standard ATX hardware, and CoolerMaster plans to release VFD and touch-screen LCD displays that can be mounted in the modular bay at the front.

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OCZ and Conclusion

OCZ didn't have a booth setup on the show floor at CES, but they did have a broad range of products on display in a suite at the swank Bellagio Hotel on the Vegas strip.

      

      

      

The first picture above should tell you a lot about where OCZ is headed on '07. That system was built up using an OCZ branded, heavily overclocked GeForce 8800 GTX card, a monstrous OCZ CPU cooler, and OCZ hybrid water or air cooled Flex Memory. Also being shown was a new CPU water-block that featured silver-allow cooling fins. Silver is one of the best conductors of heat, so the block should perform quite well when coupled with the right pump and radiator. A new high-performance chipset cooler was on display as well, along with prototype phase change cooler.  OCZ's phase-change setup won't be as powerful as some other similar products on the market already, but it should be much easier to install and it's expected to sell for about 1/2 to 1/3 of the competing products.

OCZ also showed off a slick new flash memory card dubbed the "Trifecta". The Trifecta is a combination Micro-SD / SD card that features a USB interface like the company's SD Dual cards. The Trifecta should make transferring files to and from a Micro-SD card incredibly convenient for PC users.

Lastly, OCZ had a number of power supplies on display.  They had a standard sized 1000W model on display (the prototype pictured here was rated for 900W), and a unique 2000W model that was separated into internal and external devices. The small box with modular cables mounts in a standard PSU location, and it gets connected to the larger unit that sits outside of the machine. Running a pair of 8800 GTXs in SLI mode and an overclocked Quad-Core QX6700 should be no trouble for that beast!

 


In addition to everything we've shown you here, Asus also had some impressive products being showcased at CES.  We covered Asus' booth in a previous article that we encourage you to check out as well.

The PC took somewhat of a back-seat to the high-end consumer electronics on display at CES this year, but if you knew where to look there was definitely some great stuff on display.  We're excited to see what's in store for PC enthusiasts this year and can't wait for CES 2008.

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