This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas brought few revolutionary products but plenty of important improvements in SMB products like data storage, wireless connectivity and portable computing platforms.
What did this year's CES, the gadget-heavy celebration of consumer electronics in Las Vegas, bring for small and midsize businesses?
Plenty, it turns out, with special emphasis on data storage, wireless connectivity, and portable computing platforms. In some cases, the products that were most significant didn't feature brand new technology, but offered SMBs value in terms of new approaches or novel configurations.
The two major trends in small business data storage at CES were simplicity and ruggedness. Crucial, Soligen, Seagate, and Plextor were just four of the companies exhibiting new solid-state disks (SSDs) on the floor of the show. These SSDs, while not matching the terabyte-for-less-than-$100 price points that has become common on rotating-media hard disks, have trended toward larger capacities and simplicity of packaging, in addition to the essential ruggedness inherent in the SSD memory technology.
In most storage vendors' lines, if not on every product at CES, storage is now being packaged in a way that allows users, with a single click of a button, to back up all or part of the critical data on a laptop or desktop. Vendor representatives frequently spoke of executives, managers, and regular employees who were too busy or too poorly educated on the risks to make regular backup copies of their data. Single-button systems can simplify that process, but it still remains to be seen if end users will actually back up their data regularly.
Motorola based its just-released Backflip phone on Google's Android operating system, as did Dell with its Mini3 smartphone, which was announced at CES for delivery later in 2010. Sony Ericsson eschewed the moribund Windows Mobile platform to run Android on its X10 smartphone. Each of these phones has features and form factors that should make it useful in a wide variety of business settings.
Applications were on display for Windows Mobile, but the highly anticipated Windows Mobile 7 wasn't announced or even discussed in any detail by Microsoft. (After all, we're still waiting for Windows Mobile 6.5.)
But there was at least one visually arresting mobile computing application in the Windows Mobile pavilion at CES. Under the Microsoft Auto banner in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Ford was showing a customer F-350 pickup truck with Windows Embedded XP running on a computer integrated into the dash of the vehicle. All standard office productivity tools were running on the computer, along with special software designed to let a contractor keep track of tools and materials on the go.
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