CES Day 2 wrap-up: gadget waterproofing, smart camera, big TVs, and word from Motorola and Google CEOs

Day 2 of CES is in the books, and I’m still waiting for my invite. Here’re some of the stories from today that I found interesting:

Gadget Waterproofing.
9to5Mac has a nice article about how waterproofing gadgets is the “craze” at this year’s CES, and describes two different technologies being used to waterproof electronics.

The first technology is by Liquipel and uses is a really thin coating that goes around the phone to keep water out but is not detectable by the human eye. It costs $59 and you have to send your phone to the company to have it waterproofed. Here are two videos – an explanation of how it works, and a video demonstration – from Liquipel’s website:

The second technology is called HzO WaterBlock. HzO is somehow associated with Zagg of invisibleSHIELD fame, but I’m not quite sure how. WaterBlock works by coating the actual internal electronics as opposed to the outside. The company is looking to license this technology to phone manufacturers, and it is not for sale on the consumer level. Here’s a video explanation followed by a demonstration:

These technologies are both really cool, but I don’t know how they handle a removable battery door, external speaker grill, or headphone jack. I’m also not sure whether I have the intestinal fortitude to send one of my beautiful new gadgets out to get a Liquipel coating or to test to see whether either coating works by dunking my phone. I’ve never had a water-related accident with a phone so I wouldn’t go out of my way to waterproof a phone, but having a waterproof phone out of the box would be a nice feature.

Android-powered smart camera.
Not to pat myself on the back here, but this is something I’ve been talking about for a while now. We’ve come so far with camera technology as far as size of the camera and LCD screen, megapixels, zoom, and storage space go, and also with how easy and prevalent it is to share photos on the internet once they’re on a computer. But the one area that has been the same since I got my first digital camera nearly ten years ago – the 3.2 MP Canon PowerShot A70 – is how I get pictures from my camera to my computer by using a USB cable and uploading them to a folder on my computer. Today Polaroid announced the SC1630 Smart Camera, that is powered by Android and makes getting pictures from the camera to the computer and internet simple and wireless. And it can also run other apps. Looks good to me.

Large TVs.
The New York Times describes a setting where TV manufacturers are trying to outdo one another on size at this year’s CES. Examples include a Sharp 80″, and LG 84″, a Mitsubishi 92″, and Panasonic with a 65″ consumer TV (and 103″ and 152″ models for really rich people). Any of those sound good to me, though I must admit breaking the 80″ barrier would be awesome.

Motorola is cutting back on smartphones this year.
Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha announced that Motorola will release fewer phones and explore fewer new ideas this year, instead putting more efforts into advertising and making the phones and features it does release stick. Good decision.

Motorola announces the DROID RAZR Maxx.
As sort of a non sequitor, Motorola announced a new version of the DROID RAZR with a beefed up 3,300 mAh battery (as compared to 1,780 mAh battery on the original). The device inevitably adds 1.8 mm thickness to the body, and I’m sure some weight too, but it’s a good option for those who need to use 4G LTE speeds without having to charge before the evening commute.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says Android is not fragmented.
I’ve written a few times, including yesterday, about how different manufacturers apply their own user interface, or “skin,” on top of Google’s Android operating system, and that the variety allows manufacturers to better compete with one another, but it also makes choosing an Android phone really confusing for the average customer. Today, Eric Schmidt addressed this issue, and said that there is “differentiation” but not “fragmentation” among Android devices:

Differentiation is positive, fragmentation is negative. Differentiation means that you have a choice and the people who are making the phones, they’re going to compete on their view of innovation, and they’re going to try and convince you that theirs is better than somebody else.

We absolutely allow [manufacturers] to add or change the user interface as long as they don’t break the apps. We see this as a plus; [it] gives you far more choices.

I agree. I like having the choice between different manufacturers’ user interfaces, or just going with the stock Android on the Nexus. As with anytime there are choices, however, those who aren’t well-informed can find the task of making the choice daunting – and in this case this plays into Apple’s strength of being so simple and consistent – but I think it is good for Android to have so much variety even at the risk of confusing some people.

That’s it for Day 2. Check out my Day 1 wrap-up if you missed it, and I look forward to seeing what CES brings us tomorrow.

*As a side note, this is my 100th post!*

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