CES 2010: USB 3.0 – Kicking Ass and Taking Names Ten Times Faster

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I had an opportunity to interview Jeff Ravencraft, President of the USB Implementers Forum, about the USB 3.0 “Super Speed” standard. For those who do not know how the USB Implementers Forum works, they do not manufacture the devices. What they DO is “facilitate the development of high-quality compatible USB peripherals (devices), and promote the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing.” In simpler terms, they make sure that any product with the official USB logo is prime quality.

The new USB 3.0 standard is, as mentioned, ten times faster than the current USB 2.0. In addition, it provides that speed at 1/3 the power consumption due to a rethinking of the polling architecture. That is to say, the polling architecture is out, and a new interrupt based architecture is in. While previous version relied on the host mass broadcasting data to all USB devices, leaving the device to filter out all the noise, the new scheme uses direct communication with the device needed.

Powering devices and charging via USB got a boost as well. New USB 3.0 drives can spin up off the USB power alone, without the aid of an additional power cable. That cable delivers full duplex data transfer as well (compared to the half duplex of USB 2.0) with a boost to 9 cables total over the previous 4.

To accomplish this radical rethinking, everything has been updated, including the devices, hosts and cables. Everything is still, to some degree, backward compatible with USB 2.0 hardware. The ports on USB 3.0 devices will accept the USB 2.0 cords and will fall back to the USB 2.0 architecture and speeds. In action you can see improved data transfer (see video below) and even the ability to stream uncompressed HD video from the camera to the screen, and then to an external USB 3.0 hard drive with no lag what-so-ever.

Now the wait for these devices is…. wait, they are already here! HP, Asus, and Western Digital has all gotten a few certified devices off the assembly line and ready to go. There are 6 months of devices backlogged for approval by the USB Implementers Forum, and we will begin to see this new format take off.

Video of Super Speed USB 3.0 comparison after the break…
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CES 2010: We are bloggers, not gamblers

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While in Vegas for CES, Andrew, James and I put in 1 dollar into the penny slot machines.  We challenged each other who could stay on the longest.  Little did we know that penny slots still meant 25 cents each spin. James lasted the longest and won.  But in the end, we all lost and cashed out our “winnings.”

When we left our hotel room, we left our vouchers on the desk for the maids.

CES 2010: Worst "invention" on the CES show floor – iPod Hat

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While walking the show floor at CES, you tend to see the same thing over and over again.  Sometimes you find gems and other times you find the iPod hat or visor. This thing is supposed to give you a personal theater like experience from your iPod or iPhone wherever you go all while making you look like a weirdo or a guy wanting to watch his porn everywhere he goes.

CES 2010: Razer – An Epic Tail of Six Senses

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Razer had one hell of setup at CES this year feature their new, upcoming XBOX360 controller and headset, plus their Sixense controllers. The XBOX360 controller, which was prototyped for the show, brought a whole slew of features. Their hyper responsive buttons employ a switch rather than the standard membrane. What does this mean? Its freaking easy to click, and has nice audible feedback. It has a lit edge, rubberized grip and is a pretty comfortable shape. On the top of the controller are two new shoulder buttons that are programmable via two sliders on the controller back. These two buttons can mimic the functions of any face button, including analog clicks. Speaking of the analog sticks, each has an independent tension dial to allow you to get the “just right” feel on either stick. Its MSRP is slated at $49.99 and will be available in the near future.

The XBOX360 headset was a nice piece of work as well. It features a wired base station that doubles as a charger and 5.1 surround support. When the system is powered off, the base station allows audio pass through so there will be no need to switching your receiver around. For tournament play, the headsets cab ne daisy chained together to provide a private voice chat network. The headset was also a prototype and is said to have an MSRP of $129.00 sometime in the near future.

For me, these two products were pretty nice, but were far out shadowed by the Sixense devkit that was on site. Sixense has been a work in progress and was only recently paired with a custom build of Left for Dead 2 with the help of Valve. We got to see the devkit in action as its developers showed off the motion input controls. Sixense will inevitably be compared to holding two Wii-motes but that would be a VERY bad place let it end. These controllers use a 12′ low-power magnetic field to provide absolute positioning and positional awareness. This product is probably one year from seeing a release but it already looks freaking amazing.

Words alone can not do it justice, pictures and video after the break…
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CES 2010: Able Planet – From Hearing Aids to High Performance

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I got a chance to meet with Able Planet and check out their headphone/headset line up for this year, as well as their Lynx Audio® processing. As far as noise canceling headsets go, Able Planet’s products work really, really well. During my demo I got a brief respite from the chaos of the show floor by donning the Clear Harmony™ noise canceling headset. It had clear, perfect sound and total isolation.

Able Planet offers models from $50 up to $300, the higher end being their Clear Harmony™ line. In between this range they have a wide variety of headsets including mics for gaming. Coming in March, Able Planet will be offering their newest line of gaming headsets including noise canceling, detachable microphones and a variety of colors with an MSRP of $125.00 (you can see some pictures of this at the end of the list below).

Able Planet originally entered the market with hearing aids to combat variable levels of hearing loss. This same technology enhances their current lines by allowing the wearer to have variable sound levels for each ear, in addition to protecting the wearer from dangerous sound levels. When a person has two different levels of hearing (e.g. partial deafness in one ear) they do not have to sacrifice the hearing in their good ear by turning up the overall volume to both.

I will hopefully be able to do a in depth review of their new product in the coming months, stay tuned.

CES 2010: Thanks for the memories

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I’m currently on the plane home to, literally, sunny San Diego.  How sunny is home? Well, the pilot told us that it is currently 74 degrees (F) before we left the tarmac compared to 54 degrees (F) here in Sin Vegas.  Even though I enjoyed all the boobstastic commercials, van-ads, and flyers all around Las Vegas, I’m glad to be on this plane going home.

CES 2010, Vegas, parties and all it’s people around it were very helpful and fun.  Well,  except for that one escort promoter. (*snap snap snap* If you’ve ever walked the Las Vegas strip, you’ll know what those snaps mean.)

Before landing in Las Vegas, I was a virgin to all the lights, sound and the overall atmosphere of both CES and the city.  I can finally say that I have been to both and had a good taste for both.

If I were to describe and summarize my CES experience, I would say it is kind of like a huge tech swap meet spanned across the whole Las Vegas convention center floor, the Hilton Convention Center, and the Venetian .  There were a lot of similar items on display.  Many iPhone cases, headphones, earphones, TVs, projectors, etc.  All very similar and some yet a little different.  The fun part is when you find that one product, that diamond in the rough, and get to use it or play with it before the general public does.  It’s something that is very different and you know it’ll be important in the future.

If I were to describe Las Vegas, I would say boobs, funny cab drivers, and a Stormtrooper.

Thanks again to the CES organization for granting us access to this huge event, Light Blue Optics, AMD, Lenovo, Splitfish, Tritton, Psyko Audio, Panasonic, Intel, Parnassus Group, Sony Playstation, LEGO, Capcom, Firethorn, Polaroid, Nyko, and Razer for taking the time to talk to either me, James or Andrew and letting play with your wonderful toys.  We look forward to our 2nd year at this event at CES 2011.

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CES 2010: NYKO

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More CES fun, I had an appointment to meet with Nyko. If your not familiar with Nyko they make a lot of accessories for various consoles. I myself have a couple of Nyko products at the house including their charging unit for the Wii. I got to see all the new upcoming products for 2010. I have to say there were some interesting products coming out.

My thoughts after the Break.

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