The Top 10 Products From CES 2012

The Best Of The Best

The Consumer Electronics Show enjoyed record attendance this year as more than 150,000 people showed up in Las Vegas to take in all the new smartphones, TVs, tablets and PCs the technology industry had to offer. Here are 10 top items that impressed CRN last week at CES 2012, from the latest in HDTV technology and wireless storage to the sleekest Ultrabooks and thinnest notebooks around.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga

Lenovo's made a habit of using Las Vegas as a launch pad for flashy new PCs and mobile devices, and CES 2012 was no exception. The computer maker introduced the IdeaPad Yoga, an Ultrabook hybrid that combines a classic notebook form factor with a convertible tablet. The Yoga's 13.1-inch touchscreen display can be flipped 360 degrees into a tablet mode. Lenovo says the Yoga is thinnest convertible Ultrabook around, measuring just 0.67-inches thin and weighing just over three pounds. The Yoga, which comes with Windows 8, is expected to ship in the second half of this year for a starting price of $1,199.

HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP's Ultrabook is ultra-sleek. In fact, it may be the first mass market laptop with a chassis made almost completely out of glass (don't worry, it's scratch resistant). The Spectre boasts a 14-inch HP Radiance Display, which supports a 1600x900 resolution, and comes packed with powerful hardware, including an Intel Core i5 processor, up to 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of SSD storage. HP's new Ultrabook is also ultra-portable at 20-mm thin and weighing just under four pounds. The Envy 14 Spectre is scheduled to launch next month for $1,399.99.

Seagate 4G Wireless Storage

With the rise of mobile devices like tablets, smartphones and digital media players, the importance of mobile storage has also increased. That's why Seagate has teamed up with Verizon to create a new 4G wireless storage device. Based on Seagate's GoFlex Satellite drive, the new 4G wireless device features 500 GB of storage and its own battery for an independent power source. In addition to a Wi-Fi connection, the device can also connect to Verizon's 4G LTE wireless service for data uploading and media streaming. So if Wi-Fi isn't available, the portable storage device can connect to your tablet, smartphone or notebook via 4G wireless. Pricing and availability have not been announced for Seagate 4G wireless storage device, which is also awaiting a proper product name.

ExoPC EXOdesk

ExoPC's newest invention could be the future of digital signage. The EXODesk is actually a 36-inch HD display that sits on top of a table or desk -- hence the name -- and allows user to control a PC, Mac or virtually any other kind of system via the touchscreen display's Exo UI. As a result, you don't need Windows 8 or a touchscreen-ready OS to use the EXOdesk (the demo system at CES was running Windows 7). The easy-to-use Exo UI can launch a host of different apps, desktop shortcuts and widgets as well as create a virtual keyboard (or an old typewriter if you're feeling nostalgic). Unlike other slick-looking interactive displays, the EXOdesk is affordable at $1,300. ExoPC expects the product to launch in September.

Samsung Super OLED 55-inch TV

At CES this year OLED (organic light-emitting diode) was one of the big buzz words. And with good reason, since OLED technology makes HDTVs even brighter, thinner and more energy efficient. One of the best displays on the show floor was Samsung's 55-inch Super OLED HDTV, which comes with a dual-core processor and 3D support, not to mention a picture that features amazing clarity and brightness. The Samsung Super OLED TV also looks razor thin and has a barely-noticeable bezel. No pricing or availability have been announced for this monster TV, but it's sure to be expensive.

Nokia Lumia 9000 Windows Phone

Microsoft needed a boost for its Windows Phone 7 operating system, and the gorgeous Nokia Lumia 900 might be just what CEO Steve Ballmer ordered. The device features an alluring design with a 4.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen display and a frame that measures just 0.45-inches thick. The Lumia 900 also has a 8 MP camera and a 1 MP front camera, plus a 1.4 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and support for AT&T's 4G LTE network. The device's battery life supports up to seven hours of 3G wireless talk time and 6.5 hours of video playback time. No word yet on pricing and availability for Nokia's new smartphone.

Samsung Series 9 Notebook

Ultrabooks may have been the big theme at this year's show, but Samsung Series 9 notebook predates Intel's new category. In fact, Samsung says its second-generation Series 9 is the thinnest PC notebook, and it may be the closest device yet to a MacBook Air killer. The redesigned Series 9 is even thinner (approximately 0.5-inches thick) and lighter (2.5 pounds) than the first Series 9 model introduced last year; in fact, Samsung says the new 13-inch model is 28 percent smaller. And the new Series 9 is also more powerful, boasting a 1600x900 screen resolution. And it's also made of Duralumin, which in case you didn't know is a light aluminum alloy used in aircraft construction. The second-generation Series 9 notebook is scheduled to launch next month starting at $1,399 for the 13-inch model ($1,499 for the 15-inch model).

Microsoft Windows 8

Microsoft's newest operating system may have its share of skeptics, but Windows 8 certainly drew a crowd at this year's CES. The completely redesigned OS was featured on a number of forthcoming notebooks and Ultrabooks such as Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga. Microsoft showed off the latest build of Windows 8 at its booth to a heavy crowd of attendees, demonstrating the touchscreen capability and new tile UI as well as customization features. While the event was short on details for ARM-based device compatibility, Microsoft laid the groundwork for the operating system's beta release next month. While Android has stolen some of Microsoft's thunder lately, Windows 8 is looking more like a product that can get Microsoft back into the mobile device game.

Asus Transformer 700

One again, there were a lot of tablets in Las Vegas. And one of the best models at the show was the Asus Transformer 700 series. Similar to Asus' already-released Transformer Prime, the 700 series is a 10.1-inch tablet with a sleek metallic finish. But the 700 series tablet comes with a few upgrades like Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and Nvidia's Tegra 3 mobile processor. But best of all, the Transformer 700 tablet comes with an incredible 1920x1200 high-definition display, which is the best of any available tablet on the market. The Transformer 700 series has a starting price of $599; the launch date has yet to announced.

Panasonic Toughpad A1

Leave it to Panasonic to make a ruggedized tablet. Following in the footsteps of its ToughBbok ruggedized laptop family, Panasonic has introduced the Toughpad A1, a 10.1-inch Android tablet that's MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certified for ruggedness. The ToughPad A1 comes with Android Honeycomb and a 1.2-GHz, dual-core processor with embedded hardware security, as well as integrated 4G wireless (WiMax or LTE) and optional 3G mobile broadband in addition to Wi-Fi. The tablet also boasts a protective frame to safeguard the device against drops, plus a user-replaceable battery that provides up to 10 hours of battery life. The Toughpad A1, which Panasonic calls the most secure tablet ever, will launch this Spring starting at $1,299.