For those looking for some non-Apple or non-Google news from this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there's more than enough going on is this tech-heavy week. On Sunday, Samsung unveiled its hybrid, mirror-free NX-10 camera, packed with new features, that will compete with midrange Micro Four Thirds cameras.
With all the details about the camera's features -- including a 14.6-megapixel sensor and a system that shakes that sensor up to 60,000 times per second to keep it dust-free -- the only mystery is the price. Similar cameras range from $899 to $1,099, according to analyses published Monday.
At the same time as Samsung's announcement came word of Mophie's entry into point-of-sale card readers, a growing field that will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to accept credit-card payments.
The New York Times reported Monday that CES will also be a key gathering for movie executives and consumer electronics manufacturers to plan the future of digital entertainment with an eye toward developing portable digital movies that can be viewed on multiple platforms. Currently, venues such as iTunes only sell movies that can be viewed with their company's software.
Other much-anticipated presentations at CES, the largest tech gathering in the world, will include auto executives talking about increased web access in cars; the touting of 3-D high-definition programming by satellite provider DIRECTV; showcasing of the increasing ability to connect home appliances to the Internet; the emergence of smart-book devices, which are essentially small computers with cell-phone processors for fast Internet surfing; and the explosion of new tablet and e-reader devices.
While this year's convention features 330 first-time vendors, it's still smaller than last year's show, with 110,000 participants, down from 113,000 in 2008. That year saw a 7.8 percent drop in consumer electronics revenue from the previous year, from $175 billion to $165 billion, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, which runs the convention.
It remains to be seen if all the buzz about the Google Nexus One smartphone and an expected Apple tablet computer, the subject of major announcements this month, will overshadow other products struggling for their share of the limelight.
"I'm sure they'll all get some small buzz by virtue of so many [media] outlets,
pro and amateur, covering the event," says Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at Interpret. "But it's clear that without a presence at the show, Apple and Google have already captured much mindshare before CES even starts. Google will likely unveil further plans regarding mobile strategy at their event tomorrow, and Apple, without scheduling a product announcement or even confirming the existence of new products, has already cast a long shadow over CES with the speculation of a new tablet device said to be in production."
The new device by Mophie, which specializes in add-on accessories for iPods and iPhones (such as the JuicePack external battery), enters a rapidly growing field of point-of-sale mobile-card readers.
Last month, Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey unveiled the Square reader, which plugs into an iPhone's earphone jack and interacts with its own application. The Square is also expected to work with Android phones. The more-boringly-named Credit Card Reader from Mophie is larger but performs essentially the same function.
The devices are a threat to VeriFone, which sells dedicated devices to process credit-card payments. Dorsey has said he will give away his Square device free via the company's web site, which means his company will likely profit from percentages of transactions.
Details about the Credit Card Reader's price and availability have yet to emerge.