CES 2009 Mobile PC Trends and Buzz

Central Hall main entrance, pointing toward Microsoft’s exhibit area. The exhibit was very consumer electronics oriented, with focus on Xbox, Zune, with Windows 7 Touch Technology demonstration in the "Nucleus".
Central Hall main entrance, pointing toward Intel’s exhibit area. People gathered to see products using Intel Atom processor, such as MIDs, Netbooks, and UMPCs.


People lingered in two areas of CES’ Central Hall: 1) Microsoft’s nucleus of Touch demos and 2) Intel’s cafe of Atom based products. Both sections displayed future direction versus products that are already available today, and this captured people’s attention. These trends echoed throughout other PC vendors’ exhibits:

  1. Addition of touch technology to PCs of all shapes & sizes. Clear understanding that this has major impact on software, especially operating system.
  2. Mobile PCs take the lead.
  3. Stylish, all-in-one PCs dominate over classic, stationary PCs. Merger with TVs. Bye-bye rectangular, beige box. Didn’t see a single one. Did see black or see-through, building-like towers.
  4. UMID M1 running Microsoft Windows XP Ultra-small PCs with full operating system. Intel calls them Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and included netbooks as subcategory.
    Photo: UMID M1 runs Windows XP / Vista, 512MB, 16GB SSD, 4.8" display with 1024×600 display resolution.
  5. Under 1" thin is "in".
  6. Personalization, more color options, & fashionable designs. No standard yet.
  7. Intel continuing to assist vendors with reference designs for mobile PCs, components. Vendors are appreciative of this and mentioned it repeatedly.
  8. Still don’t have standardization of mobile PC components, i.e. case, display, battery, motherboard screw hole mounts, etc.
  9. Incremental advancement of longer battery life by end of 2009. 8 hours marketed as "all day," referring to standard work hours.
  10. Sustainability. Sustainability. Sustainability. Majority of PC vendors had section on environmental impact and changes they are making to improve over previous years.
  11. ASUS origami conceptSony flexible display conceptConcept PCs built around extremely thin, flexible displays. 5+ years out before mass, but generated excitement.  
    Photos: Sony flexible display concept. (left) ASUS origami concept of foldable PC. (right)
  12. Major migration to Intel Atom processors, with various prices and not all "low cost". The lower performance has implications for operating system.
  13. Discussion around Intel Moorestown, but not demos. Heard several buyers asking about what it’ll run and there weren’t answers. Hope is that Moorestown will help with achieving real, all-day battery life.
  14. Still no WiMax, 3G industry wide solution. Hodgepodge of get a 2-year contract for every computer, which doesn’t match 6-mo or 1-yr lifetime of entry-level PCs.
  15. $750 seemed to be the generally used dollar amount for "early adopter" PC price for small PCs vs $450 for entry-level, consumer netbook. Very little discussion about $299 and lower.
  16. "This PC will work in these countries…," and the United States is not one of them. Partly because of lack of SIM card flexibility in United States.
  17. TV functionality in small PCs. (Korea, Japan, etc.)
  18. Blu-ray was not a big deal on PCs.
  19. Linux drives the Sony Vaio Instant Mode Higher proportion of Linux used in products than in previous years. Open source didn’t need its own section to be promoted, as it is now being adopted.
    Photo: Sony Vaio VGN-P500 has an Instant Mode to have access to files in a few seconds of boot. Instant Mode runs Linux.
  20. PC vendors mentioned "Available in Windows 7 timeframe," but they didn’t have PCs running with Windows 7 on display.
  21. PC vendors expressed concern and embarrassment about showing Microsoft Windows XP on PCs. Stated that it was because of lower price than Vista.
  22. "Can you read that?" response to people picking up PCs with extremely small displays. Youth market may be attracted, but aging population (of buyers) appear to have a tough time seeing.
  23. "What happened to AMD?" referring to its ultra-low power, mobile PC CPU line-up and that they are out of the running.
  24. Mid-price and high-end, future mobile PC models use LED backlights for lower power consumption.
  25. ASUS mobile PC with 512GB solid state driveMid- and high-end mobile PC lines to be offered with 256MB and 512MB solid-state drive options. This should help increase volume and make SSD more affordable in 2009.