TreoCentral is live at CES 2006, the consumer electronics show with 130,000 other people traversing 1.5 million square feet of show space. It's a big show! To put things in perspective, cab lines are measured in hours- not minutes, and the evening industry parties feature bands such as Maroon 5 or the Black Eyed Peas (sadly we got to see neither). While the most important and interesting Treo news to come out of CES was the Treo 700, which we reviewed earlier this week, there were a few other smaller pieces of treo related software and hardware worth a mention.
Bill Gates Microsoft Keynote
TreoCentral had great seats - even better than Ed Colligan's, for the Bill Gates Microsoft keynote. Gates spent much of his time laying out his vision for what software can do for computers and did many demos of his products. The Treo 700w was featured prominently in the center on key slides, and they even got Bill Gates to demo the photo-dialing feature. He seemed very unfamiliar as he held the device, I don't think that he uses it yet. Correction, according to Engadget's latest interview with Bill Gates, he does in fact use the Treo 700w as his primary device! Quote "Well, recently I've been using this Treo 700w that I think is a great product, Palm has done a good job on that." I wonder if we'll see Gates on the forums anytime soon?
Paul Otellini Intel Keynote
Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel officially introduced the Core Duo microprocessor and the Intel VIIV platform during his CES keynote. VIIV is a chipset standard to make sharing DRM'ed content easy among all of your devices, including eventually, the Treo.
Larry Page Google Keynote
Larry Page, Founder of Google, gave the best, and oddest keynote that I have ever seen. He spent half of his time criticizing the Consumer Electronics industry for the lack of open standards for software and hardware inter-compatibility. He gave specific examples such as the mess with power cords that he thinks need to be fixed. The other quarter of his keynote was given by Robin Williams, who did a hilarious skit as a Human Google. Lastly, in the time remaining, Page introduced Google Pack and Videostore, and demoed Google Mobile. There is incredible opportunity for Google as radios get faster and faster to provide compelling mobile solutions for on-the-go information. I do not think that Google understands mobile very well right now, as they have been slow to provide their software for the market (launching Gmail and Maps mobile in the last two months). They still don't support leading devices such as the Treo for maps. Page announced a Blackberry version of Maps, but I'm confident that a Treo version would have been more successful.
For more complete coverage of all Engadget's been doing an incredible job blogging and liveblogging - they have transcripts of many events following this link.
Opera, creators of the leading mobile web browser and "the other" desktop browser, is often at these shows, and I ask them the same question every time. When will there be a Treo compatible version? Today, I got an answer: They are working on a version for Treo 700w, and will launch it within the year. Opera relies primarily on carriers or OEMS to purchase their software in bulk, and could not afford to develop a new version of their software strictly for shareware sales. Thus, as somebody has to pay for Opera, I am pretty confident that one of the future Treo 700w's on some unannounced carrier will run Opera, and not Internet Explorer as it's default browser.
VoiceSignal, makers of voice dialing software for the Treo, and providers of advanced voice recognition software for millions of other phones, is currently working on a small update to the palm os version of their software. They are still limited by the Treo 650's hardware, and so we will not ever see full voice dialing capability directly from a Bluetooth headset on the Treo 650. Palm is aware of this issue, and hopefully, future Palm OS Treos will not have this limitation.
Avvenu is software that enables you to securely access your PC's files (images, documents, etc) through your Treo's browser wherever you may be. You install their server application on your desktop, and then their website links you to directly your desktop when you login, allowing you to search, share, and view your own files. Unique about their demo was that they without having to install any software, used my Treo 700w to first browse to an image from a demo desktop, and then using a sharing feature, emailed the image me. I then could click a link in the email, and look up the same image from my Treo 650. Avvenu is free, and available now.
Cguys, makers of many different types of SDIO cards, was showing off version two of an FM radio that works on both Palm and Windows. (Version one didn't work on the Treo because the antenna blocked it from going in). The hardware is much smaller, though I never got a chance to find out if that means the reception is worse. It is available now for around $60, at various US online electronic importers.
Wireless Dynamics was showing off their new SD card RFID reader, that works with both Palm and Windows Treo. The product is ready for use in vertical industries, such as health-care, pharmaceutical, and retail logistics, but there are future consumer applications. They were demoing a version that was Mastercard Paypass certified; using the card in my Treo it becomes my Mastercard paypass card and I was able to simply tap the Mastercard reader with my Treo to make an example payment. Paypass and other RFID payment systems are not very widespread yet, but one day, this could be integrated into all of your devices; an interesting look into the future.
Samsung had a huge booth demonstrating the breadth of their company and engineering talent. While the 102 inch Plasma TV waas beautiful, what I was most interested in was their working demo of HSDPA on a Samsung phone. HSDPA is a 4G cellular technology, allowing for speeds up to 3.6 Mbps! Samsung also had tons of other UMTS devices, EVDO devices in slim form factors, and a multitude of TV watching devices.
The Sony eReader is unrelated to the Treo line, but was so beautiful, and different, I thought I would share it here. The eReader uses eInk technology - there is no LCD on this 800x600 pixel tablet. The eInk display is gorgeous from all angles, and looks as if somebody printed a sample book on clear plastic and put it on a real LCD. It has slow refresh rates and is grayscale, but for reading books and magazines, that's not a problem. Sony designed a great interface and a very thin device. It will be available this year for around $400.
MobiTV has been very successful on the Treo line, and so it is good to hear that newly announced Mobiradio is being developed fro the Treo as well. Mobiradio is like satellite radio for your phone, at satellite radio prices. ($9.99 a month!). There are more than 40 channels of commercial free music at MP3 quality. I'm not sure there's as much of a market for radio as there is for TV on the Treo, especially for devices such as the Treo 700w, where it's easy to find free online streams of your favorite radio station. We'll find out when it launches on Treo sometime in the next year or so.
ScanR released software to easily allow the Treo 700w to take a photo of a whiteboard and send it to a service that cleans up the image and emails you back an easy to read copy of your notes. The software is available in a free trial, but if you do the work of attaching an image to an email, the service is free.
Coverage of SlingMedia coming soon!
Lastly, for a fun little photo, many booths are still using original Handspring Visors with a Springboard magstripe reader to process CES cards. Classic.