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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 8, 2010 @ 12:23 am

    CES kicks off

    Ciara O'Brien

    For those of you who don’t know, the Consumer Electronics Show is kicking off in Las Vegas today. John Collins is selflessly taking one for the team and has flown out to Vegas to cover it for the newspaper. He’s also blogging on the Current Account business blog elsewhere on this site.

    I’m sure he’s hating every single minute of it.

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a look at a few of the gadgets and new technology that’s being previewed at the exhibition.

    Last night, Steve Ballmer delivered the keynote speech and previewed a few things we can expect from Microsoft for the rest of the year.

    First up is slate PCs. Those of you who remember the launch of tablet PCs from a few years probably won’t be overly impressed by this. This time around though, the slate PCs are aimed at consumers and won’t have a keyboard, relying on a touch interface for input. We’re getting so used to touchscreen devices that the natural progression is to touchscreen laptops.

    Ballmer showed three slate devices at CES – one from Archos, another from Pegatron, and a HP slate PC. The HP slate will be available in 2010, he promised, and will run Windows 7.

    Microsoft and its partners can’t afford not to release the devices this year, if the rumours of Apple’s tablet device, dubbed the iSlate, are true. But although the announcement looks good on paper, Ballmer’s unveiling of the slate PC hasn’t been the attention grabber that Microsoft may have hoped. The reaction has been a distinctly underwhelmed one.

    We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out what Apple is planning.

    While there may not be a firm release date yet for the HP slate PC, the company has announced a new multi-touch consumer tablet PC, the HP TouchSmart tm2 Notebook PC. It’s not quite a slate, but it’s a better version of older tablet PCs.

    In brief:

    The notebook is a convertible tablet PC, switching between a notebook and a slate.

    It has specific gestures to zoom in and out, rotate or move an object on the display.

    It comes with a digital pen so you an take notes, draw, add some comedy graffiti to your images – whatever you want.

    It also has a full-sized keyboard.

    Would you bother with a touchscreen PC? Or is it another fad destined to die out quietly?