I attended CES 2012 in Las Vegas as part of my job as Marketing Director for high technology firm. However, I also visited other technology exhibits that are not directly related to my job, but that were interesting to me on a personal level.
The Central Hall was jam packed on Thursday when I visited the “Big Boys” booths. A plethora of 3D TV at the main booths some using active glasses, some passive, and some “no glasses” vied for your attention. Surprising to me, but perhaps not to those in the industry, Samsung seems to have pulled far ahead of Sony in the TV technology. The Samsung OLED TVs were truly spectacular, and are definitely on my “to buy list” one day.
On the Digital camera front, the Fuji X Pro 1 was an excellent marriage of form and function. They have reintroduced some of the familiar dials from the film camera days onto a retro rangefinder with interchangeable lenses. This was one cool camera. The X10 was also a well executed design that would appeal to people wanting a high quality point and shoot camera.
The Canon G1X was a bit underwhelming. It is still quite large, but does offer a fairly compelling mix of performance in a smallish package. However, the Panasonic GX1 (notice theme in the naming conventions here!) combined with their collapsible 14-42mm HD video lens, offers a similar range of lens in a similar sized package, with the benefit of being an interchangeable system. I think if Canon can get that imager in to the S100 and add a half decent lens, then they will have a helluva camera!
The Nikon D4 looked fairly impressive with sits magnesium body and relatively small size for a full frame camera. More impressive were the range of telephoto lenses that were set up at the booth with the various bodies attached.
Pansonic had the newish GX1 GF3 and G3 on display. Having used the Pentax K5 for 8 months, and checked the DXOMark test results, the K5 is still a kick ass camera in this par tof the market, and I am not about to trade it in for a M4/3 camera any time soon. In fact I am looking to buy at least one or two more lenses in the next few months for the Pentax System that I have been building since 2005.
The Sony NEX-7 was also on display despite the product launch being derailed by the Thai floods. While this is a great looking package for a camera, the use of zooms or long primes seems out of balance for such a thin body. I think wide angle primes and pancake primes are the real strength of this system. The smaller body size doesn’t save you much with a long prime or even a medium zoom lens attached.
The real category killer for the smaller DSC market will be when Apple or an Android phone gets a sensor and zoom lens similar to what is in the Canon S100 incorporated into the phone. this may seem a bit ambitious today, but looking at how small the S100 is and the size of the iPhone, I don’t think it will be too long before we see this happening. When this happens, the low end of the DSC market could be in serious trouble.
Another market that has seen explosive growth is the wearable HD camera market (Go Pro). There are now many competitors and more entrants from Asia coming into the game. While I am typically not into shooting video as I hate editing it, the ability to create time lapse photo/videos and to do it in 3D with the GO Pro is quite appealing, and could see me buying a system one day in the near future.
Other things that caught my attention were the 3D printers, particularly Makerbot. that was a very cool device! There was also a laser etching device that could “print” at 600 DPI on wood and metal, and created some neat designs in a few minutes.