CES 2012: Best of Show, Via Famed Tech Designer Phil Baker

Photo Credit: Tech Radar UK

It’s products like this — Lucky Goldstar’s 55-inch AMOLED TV at just 4mm thin — that keep industrial designers like Phil Baker coming back to CES year after year.

CES 2012: I design tech products for a living. So CES is a great time for me — not so much to predict trends, but to check out cutting edge design. From Apple iPhone accessories to the 4mm LG 55-inch AMOLED TV to the whizziest Ultrabooks, here’s what I considered to be the best of the best at this year’s show.

CES 2012 Gina Smith anewdomain
Photo Credit: Gina Smith

Ultrabooks — a new category of thin,  sub 22mm subnotebooks designed around Intel CPUs — were all over the show this year. These essentially compete with Apple’s MacBook Air in size and style. More than a dozen Ultrabooks were on the floor this year. Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell’s ultrabooks are premium products with some terrific design twists.

Check out the Dell XPS 13. It’s got an aluminum lid, but the rest of it is built of a tough carbon fiber material. They say it’s tough. Dell says it’ll be available by the end of the year.

Photo Credit: Killian Bell

Lenovo showed its $1200 IdeaPad YOGA superthin convertible, folding Ultrabook. Due mid-year, this is a 360-degree twisting 13.3-inch touchscreen you can fold to work like a tablet or a regular laptop with a keyboard, or just set it down like an open book. It’s 16.9mm thin.

Photo Credit: techdigest.tv

Speaking of cool industrial designs, HP demoed the ENVY 14 Spectre notebook. This sleek device has a lid of glass, not at all unlike the lid Apple uses on the back of the Apple iPhone. The black glass on the outside contrasts nicely with the silver glass on the inside, creating a futuristic-looking product.

Photo Credit: AnandTech

Tablets were a big theme at CES again this year, especially now that Samsung, Amazon and Asus are finally making a bit of headway in this historically Apple-only market.

Samsung showed a whole line of next-generation tablets, smartphones and combo-style devices — all thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The Korean giant seems to be testing the optimum display size to see what sticks — it announced and demoed a wide range of mobile devices with displays measuring from five to ten inches.

Photo Credit: androidadvices

The Samsung Note (via AT&T) got a lot of attention. It’s a cross between a phone and tablet, with a stunning 5-inch OLED display.  Its larger size — supporting stylus and touch input — turns it into an effective note taker.

Photo Credit: Samsung

Apple didn’t have a booth at the show, but it was ever-present in the minds of exhibitors and attendees, most of whom were carrying one or more Apple mobile products on their persons.

At the so-called iLounge pavilion, scores of companies showed accessories for the iPhone and iPad:  cases, add-on keyboards, stands, covers, brackets, chargers, i-this and i-that.

My colleague Todd Townsend talked to a company making a special backing for notebooks and tablets — the backing is comprised of a non-stick polymer that keeps portable devices from sliding off your lap. Check out the interview below.

Video credit: Eric Mack and Todd Townsend

Lucky Goldstar’s (LG) 55-inch Active Matrix OLED display TV really was a stunner. No one could stop talking about it.
Photo Credit: Tech Radar UK

I also thought the newest xPrintServer from Lantronix, priced at $150, was hot. This is a tiny box that enables any Apple iOS device to wirelessly print to any printer on the network. According to reps, the xPrintServer supports thousands of networked and WiFi capable printer models from HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Dell, Lexmark and Xerox.

One Laptop per Child, the firm that developed a simple low-cost children’s computer several years ago, introduced its XO-3 tablet — with an SRP of $100. It’s a simple, rugged device with a removable silicone cover and a hand crank to charge the battery.

The folks at Venturebeat.com did a hands-on demo of this gadget. Check it out. See you in Vegas next year.

Video Credit: VentureBeat


  • What I loved about this story and I know you say you are adding to it soon — is that it’s comprehensive and all the designs are cool. And that’s your area. We can review them when they’re out.

    Did you like the pics?gs