Pepcom: Wine, Dine & Demo!

Yesterday in New York City, Pepcom held its last trade show of the season: the Wine, Dine & Demo! 2008 Exhibitor – Preview. This show featured products from well known companies such as Dell, HP, Vizio, and NVIDIA and some newer faces including Clickfree, Dreambox Learning and Big Stage Entertainment. I was able to swing by most of the product booths and see the latest and greatest products coming out for the upcoming season. Read on and I will try and give you a taste of what I saw.

 

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One of the first tables I stopped at was the Clickfree booth. They were showcasing their Clickfree Portable Backup HD225 and HD325 models. This company has created one of the easiest consumer backup technologies that I have ever seen. These drives can plug into any Windows PC and running off software within the device, it will scour your PC for over 400 file types and then backs them up. That’s right, no software to install on the PC itself. Truly, just plug and play. In addition, the software does interval backups; so only new files get backed up during each attachment of the Clickfree Portable Backup.

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Clickfree also previewed a USB dongle that will be released sometime around CES next year. This device lets the user use ANY external hard drive as a backup device. The dongle itself features the backup technology found in the Clickfree Hard Drives; so now those spare external hard drives can be put to good use: backing up your data. You do back up your data, don’t you?

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Or my next stop, I visited with the Diskeeper Corporation who were previewing the latest version of their defragmenting software suite: Diskeeper 2009; which, will be out later this year in December. It will feature Enterprise technologies in the Consumer versions. Diskeeper realized that as PC users are getting more PC savy, that they need these features to keep their machines in top shape.

In addition, Diskeeper also showcased their Undelete 5.0 software. New features in Undelete 5.0 include “Version Protection”, which allows recovery of overwritten Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and enhanced recover-from-disk functionality which allows enhanced recovery of files deleted before Undelete was installed.

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SRS is an audio signal processing company whose technologies can be found in HDTVs, mobile phones, portable devices and PCs. In fact, if you ever peel off those stickers found on the front of your new HDTV, you might have seen their logo. At Pepcom SRS was discussing their exciting new technology that many of us have been waiting for.

They have released SRS TruVolume which is an advanced intelligence in automatic gain control. In plain English, it means that this technology scans the volume frequency of an audio signal in real time and then sets the output at a consistent level. Now those LOUD commercials that come on between your prime time show will be at the same volume as the actual show, instead of being several decibels louder, or that Michael Bay movie with all the explosions will sound as loud with dialogue as it does with buildings collapsing. Right now this technology is only found in other devices, but they may release a consumer module that plugs between the TV and the audio output; something to look forward to. Below is a picture of the prototype. One of the companies implementing this technology is Vizio who were also at the show.

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Besides this, SRS also showcased the iWOW adaptor for the iPod. This device won the 2009 CES design and engineering award. This dongle attaches to the iPod’s dock connector and using SRS technology to restore audio cues buried in the original source music to bring out a richer clearer sound. I was able to test this device out and there was definitely a difference in sound quality with the iWOW. Unfortunately since it does run off the dock connector, it will drain the iPod’s battery at a faster rate. I was told the four hour life of the standard iPod would be three hours when using the iWOW. This is one product that I look forward to trying out for a prolonged period.

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Moving over to the Vizio booth, we saw the new 55” XVT Series 120Hz 1080P LCD HDTV with Smooth Motion Video Technology. This HDTV features a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, nine high definition inputs and the SRS TruVolume technology mentioned previously. The 120Hz refresh rate is twice the speed of regular HDTVs; this in conjunction with Smooth Motion Technology, eliminates motion blur. The panel displays 1.7 billion colors (who knew there were that many colors), and uses a 10 bit data input panel.

For those who want a surround sound setup without the wires, Vizio makes a High Definition Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer (VSB210WS). This system also incorporates the SRS TruVolume technology and has four 3” high efficiency mid/bass drivers and a single 1” high performance aluminum dome neodymium tweeter for each channel. In addition to sounding great, the Soundbar also looks sexy as it comes in piano black.

In addition, Vizio showed off its line of small screen LCDs ranging from 19, 22 and 26 inches. These sets have 5000:1 contrast ratios and are 1080P. The price points are $249, $349 and $449 respectively.

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Mio recently released the Knight Rider GPS, which features the voice of the original K.I.T.T. actor, William Daniels. This GPS has a piano black finish and an LED display that moves in sync with the voice. Now your fantasies about being David Hasselhoff can come true! Personally, if I were to be Hasselhoff, I would want to be the Baywatch iteration.

The Knight Rider GPS has a preloaded map of the U.S. and Canada, four million points of interest, a 4.3” touchscreen interface, an SD/MMC slot and turn by turn voice guidance. Besides the K.I.T.T. voice, there are other voices and languages available.

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Mio also unveiled the Moov 500 which is a 4.7” Superwide Touch Screen device. Features include text to speech, preloaded maps of the US and Puerto Rico, 3.5 million points of interest, SiRFInstantFixII which allows for fast and accurate GPS reception and an SOS button for emergencies. The Moov 500 also includes a SD/MMC slot for additional map loading. This product will be available exclusively through Radio Shack.

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Next I visited an old friend; David Leong from Kingston who showed me the company’s latest offerings. The newest product that was showcased was the DataTraveler 150, which is now available in both 32GB and 64GB sizes. Of course not to be outdone in the SDHC market, they also showcased a 32GB card.

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Kingston is also working with Intel, Samsung, Toshiba and others to bring solid state (SSD) hard drives to the market. Called SSDNow, they’ll first go to Fortune 1000 companies but hopefully soon we will see these in the consumer marketplace. Finally, Kingston has replaced the well-known blue heatsink that is associated with the HyperX line and upgraded it to a blue heatsink with fins to provide improved cooling. Plus they will be rolling out tri-channel packs of DDR3 memory for the new X58 motherboards for the new Intel i7 CPUs.

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A newcomer to Pepcom is DreamBox Learning showing their online mathematics product called DreamBox Learning K-2 Math. This is an online product, which wraps fun, game-style adventures around a serious math curriculum that adapts to each child’s specific skills and learning behavior, so they effectively learn the math that’s vital to their future. The initial game is actually a placement test which helps put your child into the proper development stage. I look forward to trying this out with my daughter.

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Another new face at the show was Big Stage Entertainment whose online product Digital You allows the creation of an @ctor, which is an avatar that should resemble the user in 3-D. By uploading three different photos of yourself, Big Stage use software created for government agencies and the film industry to render a three dimensional avatar of one’s head. This @ctor can be customized and then be projected into pictures, video clips, backgrounds, etc and posted online into Facebook or other social networking sites. The website is BigStage.com and it does require the installation of the free Big Stage Media Player and a PC.

3M was showing its latest innovation the MPro110 Micro Professional Projector. This portable hand held projector. This device weighs less than a pound and is the size of a digital camera. It attaches to video capable pass through devices such as laptops, DVD, MP3 players or hand held games and can project up to 50 inch still or video with VGA resolution. It features a Lithium rechargeable battery, which offers 40-60 minute battery life or can be run off AC power.

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At the ASUS Computer International booth, they were showcasing the latest Eee PC models and their latest notebook product designs. Models on display ranged from the netbooks such as the EEE PC 1002HA and the EEE PC S101, to the monstrous G70SG which is a gaming system with a 17” screen, 4GB of memory, Intel Core 2 Duo T9500 and Nvidia NV9800 GTS 1 GB DDR3. You could call that the EEEEEEEEEPC, if you like.

For the business executive, ASUS was showing the N80Vn-B1B a mid range laptop with a 14.1” display, 4 GB of memory, an Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 and NV9650M graphics chip.

Staying with the PC makers, Dell showcased Studio laptops with (PRODUCT) RED artwork, the Inspiron Mini 9, the Alienware Area-51-m15x plus the new Area-51 X-58 with the Core i7 processor.

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Iomega is well known brand from their days as the makers of Zip Drives. Now they specialize in innovative storage solutions for consumers, small businesses and others. They were displaying a slew of hard drives such as the Iomega eGO a rugged portable hard drive designed to withstand falls from up to 51”. The Drop Guard Extreme version with Power Grip band extends the drop protection to 84”. They range in sizes from 160GB to 500GB and include EMC Retrospect Software and MozyHome Online Backup service for protecting your data.

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The Iomega Storcenter ix2 Network Storage is a Gigabyte Ethernet, one or two terabyte NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. This unit features security camera capability, user/group setup and Bluetooth upload. The ix2 uses a 400Mhz processor, 128MB of memory, 7200 SATA II drives in RAID 1 configuration for data protection. Software includes built in media server, print server, UPnP, DLNA and sharing amongst Linux, PC and Mac. If you have a lot of data and wanted it networked, then this box is a great all in one solution.

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Philips and DLO presented the HomeDock HD, which is a HDMI, enabled dock for the iPod that upscales to both 720P and 1080i for a HD viewing experience. The HomeDock HD also features USB connection, S-Video, composite inputs and optical digital output. It includes a full function RF remote, to control your iPod from distance.

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DLO also showed some iPod accessories such as the TransDock Direct and the VentMount. Both these items allow the mounting of the iPhone/iPod in ones vehicle. The VentMount allows the iPhone/iPod to hook onto the AC vents of ones vehicle and can also double as a belt clip. While the TransDock Direct, allows secure mounting and charging of the iPod while providing an auxiliary charge cable to allow multiple devices to be attached and powered. The Aux In connector allows the device to connect directly to your car’s Aux-In jack – the easiest way to enjoy iPod static-free in your car without the hassle of custom installation.

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My favorite product of the Pepcom Wine, Dine & Demo was NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision. These 3D goggles work in conjunction with a 120MHz monitor or HDTV and an emitter to provide true 3D gaming. I watched Left4Dead played on a 52 inch HDTV and all I have to say was wow! When 3D technology is bad, it is bad. However, NVIDIA seems to have gotten this right. The product is scheduled for release around CES and requires an 8800GTS card or higher and a 120MHz refresh rate capable monitor or HDTV. I am still having PTSD after seeing all those zombie running out a once!

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Pharos is another GPS provider and they were on hand with two new unlocked 3.5G smartphones: the Traveler 117 and 127. These phone feature pay-as-you-go GPS navigation which can be bought daily, monthly or yearly. In addition, they had the Pharos Trips and Pics, which is a Geotagging device that is used in combination with your digital camera. It uses the time stamp of the camera’s pictures and matches up the coordinates of the location at the time of the photo and inserts it into the pictures metadata. Unfortunately this device does not work with the RAW photo format.

 

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Last but not least, I met with the folks at Pantech as the were demoing a slew of new phone models including the Matrix and Slate, stars of AT&T’s holiday messaging program. The Matrix features a side mounted slide out QWERTY keyboard and a pull down number pad for phone calls. While the Slate features the “world’s thinnest QWERTY keyboard” enabled phones, specifically designed for the text messager in mind.

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So that wraps up the vendors seen at the Pepcom Wine, Dine & Demo! 2008. I hope you enjoyed the recap. The products I look most forward to testing out include the GeForce 3D Vision, the SRS iWOW, ClickFree Portable Backup, DLO HomeDock HD and with my daughters, DreamBox Learning K-2 Math. I leave you with Dick DeBartolo of TechTV Screensavers/TWiT/MAD Magazine fame to decide which product you all liked best!

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