CES 2006

CES 2006

Written by John Yan on 1/16/2006 for

CES has been a show that I’ve always wanted to go to but never had the chance to. I had planned a vacation in Las Vegas and the timing coincided with the last few days of the show. With the little time I had, I only was able to book two appointments but both offered some good information on some upcoming products.

Sapphire
My first appointment was with Sapphire, makers of ATI products. They had a nice little meeting room in a restaurant in the Venetian hotel. The fine folks at Sapphire reiterated the fact that they are committed to quality for the upcoming year. Some of you might not know, but every product that comes out of Sapphire is tested before it gets into your hands.  To help communicate with their consumers, Sapphire’s website has been redesigned with support for 18 different languages. CEO of ATI, David Orton, has confirmed that Sapphire as being their number 1 partner.

Sapphire also stated that they are committed to producing great motherboards based on ATI chipsets. They showed me some of their packaging and one of the nice things I like about it is that the boxes have a clear display of the motherboard inside. This way you can check out the layout and features on the motherboard without having to open the box. You may be wondering why all of the new motherboards don’t sport the cool white coloring. The manufactures need a lot of work to clear out the dyes for the PCB for each color. I hope that more of their motherboards come out in white though as it’s a very striking color scheme. 

A few other products were shown but I am under NDA to disclose them. Rest assured they will be announced soon and I’ll be able to post the pictures once the NDA is lifted.  

Sapphire’s a great ATI partner and I look forward to what they have coming out in the new year.
 

ECS
The fine folks at ECS has been very helpful to us and they invited me to their meeting room up in the Tower Suites of the new Wynn hotel. My first time at the Wynn, I was very impressed by the design and décor of the place. I spent a good amount of time in the sports book of the hotel watching an NFL playoff game. Before that though, I hopped on the elevator up to the eighth floor to check out the goods from ECS

The one item that really caught my eye at ECS’s display was the P60 Digital Home PC Viiv unit. This small media center was pretty slick featuring a nice slot loading DVD-RW drive, a 3-in-1 card reader, a firewire plug, and a USB 2.0 plug in the front. On the back, you can see a DVI connector, two USB connectors, a few audio connections and a Ethernet port. I use optical connections on all my media centers and I was initially surprised to see a lack of one on the back of the P60. Unplugging the one audio plug that was inserted, I see the familiar red glow leading me to believe that that single jack is a versa jack. Coming in both black and white, the unit can be placed vertically or horizontally. The unit ran very quietly and didn’t seem to exhibit too much heat on the top. The P60 is one unit I’d really like to test in the future to compare to the various media centers I have built. The size and design is something I was really impressed with. 

On the motherboard front, ECS displayed a few that we’ve already reviewed or seen. One motherboard that did catch my eye was ECS KA1 MVP. As you can see from the picture, this is the AMD Crossfire solution.  The one thing I didn’t like about the board was the release clips for the PCI-E cards were just little stubs. Instead of a full latch, the clips make it difficult to pop when changing cards. I don’t know if the motherboards are in full production yet, but I hope ECS decides to change that little part of the product. Other than that, the board looks solid and I hope to be able to take it through its paces soon. 

Within ECS’s product guide, they also mention the KA3 MVP which uses the RD580 motherboard chipset rather than the RD480 on the KA1 MVP. The board features a Socket M2, something that AMD is transitioning their desktop line to.

ECS had a very nice setup away from the convention floor and I liked the calm and quiet atmosphere to be able to look at their products. The P60 and the KA1 MVP are the two products I really focused on and two that I’m very interesting to seeing once they are made available.

For the rest of the coverage, I went through the convention show floor to scope around. Here's the highlights of what I hit with the limited amount of time I had.

NVIDIA

The big news of NVIDIA’s booth was the Dell Quad SLI PC. The case has an impressive fire design. Off to the side NVIDIA showed off the innards of the beast in a nice clear acrylic case.  You can see the arraignment of the bridge connectors on top.  On display was Battle for Middle-earth II playing at 2560x1600. Of course, a monitor to support that resolution is boku bucks but if you’re able to afford this Dell PC then you shouldn’t have a problem getting a display to also display that resolution.  There was certainly a nice crowd gathered around the display and I found myself drooling at the setup.
 

Creative Labs
Fatal1ty was all over the booth with daily matches against the professional gamer. Big news coming out of the company was their foray into mice and Fatal1ty’s own branded gaming mouse. The Fatal1ty 1010 mouse features 1600 DPI and an optical engine. Four buttons are featured on this mouse and taking a cue from Logitech’s top of the line gamer mouse, you can change weights to customize the mouse. The top center of the mouse pops up when pressed down so you can change the weights. You can also dynamically change the sensitivity on the mouse with the included software. I wasn’t too impressed with the unit given that a lot of the mice are moving to a laser engine as well as only having four buttons.

There are a few other Fatal1ty branded products coming out. From the pictures you can see a headset as well as the usual X-Fi sound cards that have already been released.

Creative also has a few other non-branded mice coming out and they do have one laser gaming mouse on display. I don’t know why they didn’t market this as the Fatal1ty mouse as it looks better than the design of the 1010 in my opinion.
 

Logitech
Logitech didn’t have much new to show in CES but I was able to get a close up look at the Harmony 890. The remote looks like the Harmony 880 but it sends signals via RF so you don’t need line of sight to operate your appliances. The receiver, which looks like the old Logitech wireless receivers, is capable of attaching a few IR blasters so you can control your units that still operate on IR. Like the Harmony 880, the Harmony 890 also features a base to recharge the unit. The remote sells for $400 so it’s certainly not an inexpensive piece of equipment. Nevertheless, the ease at which you can program these remotes as well as the amount you control makes this a remote that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
 

Leadtek
Leadtek’s booth was showing their line of video cards and a few of their USB TV units. Speaking to one of the reps, I was a little disappointed to hear they won’t be concentrating on video cards as much this time around. That’s too bad as I thought Leadtek produced solid cards. Hopefully, they will come around when NVIDIA releases their next line. I was happy to see the Gaming Nexus Editor’s Choice logo on a few of the displays.

I didn’t spend nearly enough time at the convention as I should. Being a veteran of E3, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of CES because you didn’t have booths trying to overpower each other. There weren’t yelling or overly loud music blaring at you. I was able to talk to and hear people without having to raise my voice; something I wish the folks at E3 would learn from. While I didn’t stay at CES long, I really enjoyed  the convention atmosphere and hope to go back again soon.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

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About Author

I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.

I'm  married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.


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