advantage of attending an event like the Consumer Electronics Show year-after-year is you gain a wider view of technology. You see “the latest thing” come and go in the span of mere months. You witness proof of concept gadgets that never make it to market, even though the idea seemed sound at the time. And you form a clear idea what manufactures believe consumers will want in the next 12 months. Not that the consumers always follow suit.
Chasing the adoption and rejection of these tech trends feels a little like skiing the Rodgers Curve. Some product runs are long and flat, others rise and drop like a double diamond fall line. And much of the show’s hype and excitement usually reflects the herd mentality of the big consumer electronics companies.
This year’s CES had a totally different feel from previous shows. Some of the big players, like Microsoft, are gone. That is hardly news. What is different this year is it feels more like a show about the little guy. More entrepreneurism, more third-party devices designed to fill in niche markets, and no singular device or technology that totally rocks the show.
|Jump ahead to view:|
|Moble Phones and Tablet production accessories|
|LG Widescreen Monitor|
|3D on your mobile phone|
|It is not necessarily technology that draws the most attention from the mostly male attendees. Click here for my thoughts about the Hyper booth.|
Perhaps it stems from a larger, fragmented global economy diluting the generic “consumer” wants and needs. Or perhaps China’s rise into a consumer market forces the corporate giants to flail about. Or perhaps the rise and fall of corporate fortunes in consumer electronics is forcing the marketing buzz machine to lose its focus. I can’t say with certainty what has changed the show this year.
This is a roundabout way of saying that the 2013 CES struck me as being about the start-up, the bootstrap companies with big ideas. What it lacks in global corporate energy it makes up in pluckiness.
Below are some of the devices that caught my eye. Some are from the big players like Sony and LG. But others are small companies, maybe just a few folks with a kickstarter product. I looked at accessories for using mobile devices for video production (iPhones and small DSLR cameras), computer monitors, action cameras, camera mounts and a 3D screen for your phone. In my next post I‘ll explore my observations about consumer and prosumer cameras, but here are my thoughts and observations on some of the products that caught my attention.
|More video content destined for the internet and corporate intranets is being created, stem to stern, on a device like an iPhone. An entire ecosystem has developed for this niche market. Audio adapters like Fostex’s AR-4i audio interface, third party snap on lens kits, flexible tripods and suction mounts.
|CES is filled, aisle after aisle, with knock-off and derivative technology. The myriad of iPhone cases, battery packs and chargers was a joke. They all pretty much look the same. There is an especially expanding business in waterproof/resistant cases. Some look like glorified Zip-lock bags, other look suspect with ill-fitting corners and seams.One exception is Lifeproof. Lifeproof is showing a wide array of durable housings for your phone and tablet. The Lifeproof Frē is functional both above and below the surface. I could have used one of these on my recent vacation in Hawaii. Next time.|
|I have been using a Photojojo Phone Lens Series kit for my iPhone and iPad for over a year. The wide angle and fish-eye lenses work great. The telephoto, not so much. They all slide around on the phone’s lens and can create some funky vignetting.I shot this image on the left using the Olloclip macro lens. The company has significantly improved the function of an external lens with an easy-to-use corner mount wide angle kit. It is a single unit with a fisheye on one side and a wide angle macro on the other. It not only makes attaching the lens a breeze, but at first glance appears to have better optics than my current setup.|
|Audio is always a problem with Apple devices. The in-device mics are useless for video production.While the jack on your iPhone or iPad appears to be a standard mini-jack, it is not. It requires something called a 3.5mm 4 conductor TRRS jack. I have been using a KV Connection adapter to bridge from my mics to my phone, and it works adequately for low-grade consumer mics. But this solution will not support my professional mics. Many require an external power source to work, and the KV system is passive.
Finally there is a solution. IK Multimedia has released the iRig Pre, a small preamp that connects your XLR microphone to your apple device. It has 48v Phantom Power, uses a 9v battery and also works with Android devices. Now we can leverage better quality shotgun and lavaliere mics with mobile production, something I have been looking forward to for some time.
It may seem like a small problem, but this opens up a cost-effective door for using mobile devices in professional productions.
|If iPhone cases lead the show in derivative technology, then the action cam market is close on its heels. It seems every manufacturer, large or small, is making small cameras that you mount on your head, bike, kayak, snowboard, or skateboard.GoPro leads the market by a mile, both in share and quaility. Their latest model, the GoPro 3, has been a huge success, and it has only been in the market for a few months.
The GoPro booth on the floor of CES has an interesting energy, as if it is the hippest place to be in Vegas. It reminds me of the Apple booth at the NAB conference 10-years-ago. The whole cult-of-Apple was just blossoming in the Final Cut Pro crowd. In those days you were either a part of the clan, or an outsider. The GoPro booth is wall-to-wall with digital native hipsters comparing experiences, regaling each other with stories of broken bones and intact cameras. GoPro has to love that they have a consumer base so passionate about their product. I am sure Contour and Liquid Image look at them with envy.
|I use a Sony Action Cam, and have been happy with it, particularly the wifi feature where I can control the camera from my phone.Sony is showing an entire universe of accessories for the camera. New mounts, housings where the front lens cover on the waterproof is flat to minimize distortion. One accessory that is surprising is the Sony AKA-LU1 Cradle. This housing will convert the camera into a more traditional recorder with an LCD screen. It could be a perfect vacation video camera system for those families on the go.|
|Mophie, and many others, are showing cases for your phone that convert it to an Action cam.The Mophie Outride is a waterproof plastic housing with an attached wide angle lens. Like GoPro, Contour and Sony, they are developing an entire product line of mounts and attachments.
Folks in the press and on the floor are pretty excited about the case, but with a $150 price point why not spend a little more, buy a GoPro and eliminate the risk losing your phone in a snow bank or smashing it against a tree? My phone is more than a phone or a camera to me, and the risk of damaging it by using it as an action cam seems counterintuitive. Using the Outride means less crap to carry perhaps, and you can upload your awesome selfie doing a backside rodeo off a cliff and sticking the landing. And the Outride eliminates the need to buy a new camera system by leveraging something you already own. But for me, the risk is too high.
|Joby’s GorrillaPod has owned the market in flexible tripods and mounts. Their versatility is great, and I have owned a number of them over the years.But that specifically is the problem for me with Gorrilla Pod. I have had to buy a number of them. They break if you flex them too sharply, they melt in the sun, and wear out quickly with use.
iStabilizer is showing the Flex mount. The legs have found the sweet spot of being both more rigid and flexible at the same time. When you bend a leg it stays put, firmly. As you can see from the photo, you can wrap it around a treebranch, something I have never been able to do confidently with my GorrillaPod.Additionally, the tension frame camera mount will work with any small phone and many point-and-shoot cameras. Or use your own mount on the standard tripod mount screw.
|iStabilizer is also showing my favorite tabletop dolly. You can use this dolly with many compact prosumer cameras, small DSLRs, Action Cams and mobile devices. I love this dolly for clean tracking shots in small environments. It can add a dynamic feel to an otherwise sedentary shot.Rokform is showing a device mount system designed for attaching your phone or tablet when you are on the go. They include suction, magnetic and adhesive mounts you can put on your motorcycle, in your car or even on the end of a golf club.
Their mounting system caught my eye because many of the phone cases are built where you can insert the the phone into the case backwards. Why does this matter? Using their system you could magnetically attach your phone to a wall, camera facing out, and shoot a quick video unassisted. Or suction cup the mount to a wall or smooth surface. Video and still production with your phone or tablet is not the purpose of the system, but it should work well. One other note. Where many of the mount systems on the floor are made of molded plastic, the Rokform it is very durable, with most of the mounts milled from solid aluminum.
|The LG EB-93 and EA-93 wide screen monitor are a video editor’s dream. While “ultrawidescreen” 21:9 aspect ratio HDTVs haven’t taken off with consumers (not much content for the format) LG is courting computer users with its new EA93 UltraWide LCD monitor. Measuring at 29-inches with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,080, it uses the extra horizontal space to display a really big desktop.
I can finally get all the windows in Premier Pro, Final Cut or Media Composer side-by-side. I can see my source monitor, record monitor, timeline, scopes and project bins without having to constantly tab from window to window. It will also display side by side video from two different sources (two computers, computer and gaming device, TV and computer) or up to four different views at once thanks to its built-in software. For connections, it has DVI Dual Link, DisplayPort, or HDMI with MHL support.
Asus also announced an ultrawide monitor at CES 2013. The Asus MX299Q and the EA93 monitors both have a 21:9 aspect ratio and 2,560×1,080-pixel IPS panel.
LG has yet to announce pricing or availability so we’ll have to wait and see if I will need to get a second mortgage, but the Asus lists for less than $600. Let’s hope LG keeps it in that ballpark.
|I want to wrap this up with a promising piece of technology from a small company in the back of the North Hall. Most current 3D phone and tablet solutions rely on expensive active filters. Nanoveu has a different solution. By using Nano technology they’ve created a thin flexible film that transforms a 2D mobile display into a glasses-free 3D display.
Nanoveu has also developed the SDK for game and video developers.What struck me is how nice the experience is on the phone. You don’t have the shallow angle sweet-spot problems present with 3D TVs. The image looks three dimensional from almost any angle. The smaller screen of a phone or tablet forces you to bring the device closer in your field of view, and it feels as if it is leveraging the natural binocular nature of human vision.The film is also thin, 0.1mm. It is impressive how the film did not appear to affect the responsiveness of the device when using the touch screen.
Standing in the aisle at CES I was struck by the potential of the technology. Besides the obvious distribution of 3D entertainment and games, if it leveraged the phone’s geolocation for virtual reality and immersive advertising, you could create an incredibly engaging customer experience.
|I think Alfred Chong and his team have developed a very interesting technology with great potential. I can only hope they are successful in getting content providers to create the media needed to fill the pipeline. Content is king, that is evident. And no matter the technology, if you don’t have the stories no one will engage in your great idea.To geta better idea about the technology.I’ve embedded their promotional video here on the right.|
© 2013 StoryGuide | Drew Keller