It’s days like this that I wish so damn much that I could go to events such as CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2011, going on right now. One day, I swear I’ll go. Really.
I was just reading my usual roundup of tech blogs for the day and couldn’t help but realize that I got just about 217 items just in the past 24 hours regarding CES and all the ridiculously cool new technology they’re featuring there. Take for example Sony’s 27(!) new HDTVs, many of which are 3D-enabled and all of which are incredibly elegant-looking. Or Samsung’s new razor-thin televisions (seriously, how much thinner can they make it?). Or the tons of new cameras and camcorders, now at a phase where 10MP is just barely making it (yes, I know pixel quantity is not everything, but it does count for something). Or like the dozens and dozens and dozens of new phones featured today. Like that new Motorola Droid Bionic with 1080p output. Seriously? Full HD output from a freaking phone?! Wow. (I’m looking at you, rate-limited HDMI-output Evo).
And the elephant in the room for me, the announcement of Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, for tablets. To be completely honest, I’m not totally quite into this tablet frenzy that’s been stirred up in the past few months with everyone and their mother announcing a new tablet, but if there’s anything like Honeycomb running on it, I might just be interested. Arguably, the Galaxy Tab running Froyo is the best Android tablet on the market (are there others? Yes there are. Very few). But I played with one and felt like it was a bit of a letdown. For one, it was just too laggy for my taste and the cosmetic changes that made it distinctive from a large phone (iPad?) were too minimal. However, the new sneak peak of Honeycomb on the Google Mobile blog today is pretty impressive. Of course the video is extremely and almost annoyingly flashy enough to be taken straight out of Tron, but it gave a pretty neat exposition into how Android will look on a completely different form factor. I entirely disagree with Apple’s UX choice to literally scale up the exact iPhone interface for the iPad. A dedicated OS for specifically that form factor is the right idea and I think Honeycomb is looking good so far.
It also shows the power of Android at extensibility to different kinds of hardware. About a month back, Google so kindly sent me a free Google TV device (the Logitech Revue) for my contributions to Google Code and I got around to playing with it. Initially, I thought this was just a simple, standalone OS/firmware but quickly realized that it was actually Android 2.1. When I played around with the interface, I actually didn’t believe it until I saw the version number on the device itself. Needless to say, it looked and felt entirely different (although imperfect in a couple of ways). Now we will soon have a version of Android designed specifically for tablets. Which brings me to the next question. Where does Google Chrome OS play into all of this? From whatever I’ve read, there seems to be a bit of ideological gap between the Google Chrome OS team and the Android team as far as objectives. Yes, they’re different but they’re also getting closer and closer to the same types of hardware. I could definitely seen Chrome OS running on a tablet device (since a fair assumption is that a portable device like that will be always connected to the Internet). So eventually one is going to win. Now if only I got one of those CR-48 netbooks, I might be able to pick a side fairly..