by Feedback

The annual rite of, well, the year, began today: the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, featuring the gadgets you’ll see – and many you won’t – in 2012. Reporters typically measure the show’s size in football fields, and in this case, it’s 35 of them. That is very, very large.

I went to my first of two CES’s six years ago as a reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, covering the half dozen or so companies and handful of sales reps from Virginia that were attending. I’d spot the sales guys by scouring nametags as they’d pass by.

“Hey, you from Richmond?” I’d ask.


“Quote for the paper?”

“What the —- are you doing here?”

Your first CES is difficult to enjoy because it’s so overwhelming. Multiple halls, each the size of a standard city’s entire convention center, house thousands of exhibitors and play host to tens of thousands of industry people. Lots of the booths give out branded mini-moisturizers, tissues and lip balm to help combat the dry air. Single “booths” are the size of McMansions and filled with gadgets – some conceptual, others that will go on sale and be outdated in six months. I recall being told by a reporter who’d been before to plan ahead. Get booth numbers, map out a schedule, drink lots of water. I chose instead to wing it, and found myself doubling-back throughout the week and destroying the soles on a well-made pair of shoes. That first year I remember delaying booking a hotel room and had to stay at a Howard Johnson’s outside of the main Strip area. I imagined horrible, horrible things had happened at that room before my arrival. I recall being close to tears at one point attempting to submit my stories by the deadline, which, thanks to time zones, was three hours ahead in Richmond.

I did  a little better the second year – including booking a sweet room – but still not great.


As technology changes every few months, so too does how the show is covered in the media. While blogs were of course popular in 2006 and 2007, when I was there, the updates coming out of CES weren’t as constant (annoying?) as they are today thanks to the prevalence of social media. Print deadlines are less important because you’re writing for the web. The deadline is unending.

In my mind, though, almost more than anything, CES stands today as a time to remind people that Apple is not the only company in the world that makes gadgets, nor is it the only company in the world that makes good gadgets.* Apple doesn’t attend CES.

I recall being in the press room at CES in January 2007 when Apple announced the first iPhone. Slick timing on the company’s part: distract the industry. We were all huddled in that press room reading about the iPhone on blogs and watching news reports on TV as a world of ridiculous technology sat outside our door, waiting to be touched and looked at and reported upon. Yet the announcement instantly killed the vibe of CES and overshadowed everything for the remainder of the trade show. Reporters in the press room called their editors to determine how to handle CES coverage with the iPhone news. Which story led? The answer, that day, was iPhone. Hundred-inch televisions, the newest gaming consoles, the hottest stereo systems and the bikini-clad women showing them off were no match for a tiny three-in-one touchscreen device that would go on to disrupt entire industries.

But Apple doesn’t make TVs (yet), and not everyone uses Macs. People still pick up game controllers, and enjoy flip-style phones, and buy technology products from many other reputable and innovative brands. And all of it is on display at CES. Here are a few trends and products to that I’ve been watching come out of this year’s convention:

Ultrabooks. Super thin, fast, and not a lot of bells and whistles.

Skinny TVs. Slim, more natural colors, richer blacks, thin, thin, and definitely not thick.

Kinect on Windows. “I’m thrilled to announce that Kinect is coming to Windows on February 1,” Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said.

Health and Fitness. A host of upstart companies want to serve a helping of vegetables to those consumers in the form of health-and-fitness gadgets.

Oh, and that * symbol a few paragraphs up: for every one really awesome thing at CES, there are at least two completely lame things that will never, ever be bought or used by anyone. Though I probably still thought they were cool.

-Jeff (@jephkelley)


Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week (August 19, 2011)

by Feedback

The social space online changes rapidly. Feedback stays on top of emerging media news so you don’t have to. Here are the must-read social media articles of the week of August 14, 2011. Read More »


Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week (July 29, 2011)

by Feedback

The social space online changes rapidly. Feedback stays on top of emerging media news so you don’t have to. Here are the top must-read social media articles of the week for July 24, 2011.

Read More »


Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week (May 13, 2011)

by Feedback

The social space online changes rapidly. Feedback stays on top of emerging media news so you don’t have to. Here are the top 5 must-read social media articles of the week:
Read More »


Consumer Electronic Show Stand-Outs: Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week

by Feedback

The Consumer Electronic Show, the world’s largest consumer technology trade show, is upon us. Starting Thursday and running through Sunday, technology companies from all over the world gather in Las Vegas, Nevada to show off their best and latest technology products. Feedback has been following CES since it began, and this week I’ll share the technology that caught our eye.

Tech Trends of CES

Vizio's Theater 3D Experience

Cheaper 3D

Premium 3D video cameras, TV’s, and smartphones have been introduced at CES at premium prices. Vizio and LG, on the other hand, are taking a different approach to 3D: the inexpensive approach. Both companies will be offering less expensive 3D TV’s that use “passive 3D technology,” utilizing inexpensive 3D polarized glasses akin to those used in movie theaters. Although pricing hasn’t been confirmed, a 32” Vizio 3D HDTV is expected to come in around $300.

Smarter Cars

Innovative car technology is another trend we’re seeing at CES. Ford chatted about “teen-proof” technology that will allow parents to use MyKey technology to block explicit satellite radio programming and limit driving speeds. Hyundai discussed their Blue Link assurance system, which among other things, can drastically slow down a stolen car, and Toyota touted Entune, which allows cars to access smartphone applications such as Bing, Pandora, Movietickets.com, and Open Table.

More Tablets

LePad Tablet and Hybrid

A plethora of tablets have been announced at CES, all trying to capitalize of the success of the iPad. The tablets getting the most attention include the Motorola’s XOOM tablet, which uses Google’s Android 3.0 operating system codenamed Honeycomb, can be upgraded to use Verizon’s 4G LTE network, and has a duel-core processor. Another notable tablet is the LePad Tablet and Hybrid. This Android tablet can actually secure into a keyboard base and become a notebook. These new tablets will likely hold our attention, that is, until the iPad 2 is announced.

Apple Launches Mac App Store, 1 M Apps Already Downloaded

Although not at CES, Apple is still making attention-grabbing announcements. On Thursday, Apple launched the Mac App Store, essentially the desktop version of the iTunes mobile app store. Apple already has around 1,000 apps available for your Desktop. iPhoto, Keynote, iMovie, and Garage Band are now available for individual purchase (rather than an expensive bundle), and there are tons of other useful apps you can purchase. Apple announced that over 1 Million desktop Apps were downloaded in the first 24 hours after release.

Keep Up with CES

According to Mashable, “CES is mentioned as many as 5,267 times on Twitter every hour and yesterday [Wednesday] was mentioned more than 110,000 times in tweets.” So as you can see, there is a lot of buzz around CES 2011. Here’s how you can keep up with the latest news about CES:

-Anna (@alucas9)


Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week (09/03/10)

by Feedback

Do you have time to search the web everyday to find the newest social media tools? If the answer is no, then you have come to the right place. I have searched the World Wide Web for social media information all week, and stumbled upon a few favorites along the way. Here are my picks of the week:


Apple had a big event on Wednesday, where they introduced Ping, a social network for music lovers. Ping allows you to follow friends and artists, have custom music recommendations based on your followers, and share concert details. You can access Ping by downloading iTunes 10, going into the iTunes store, and activating Ping. Read our blog ‘Social Network, Meet iTunes‘ to find out more.

Twitter Usage Up:

Twitter usage went up 33% from May to August. In August, Twitter processed over 2.64 billion Tweets. Twitter now has over 145 million registered users, and activity has more than doubled this year.

Chrome 6:

For Chrome’s two-year anniversary, they are introducing Google Chrome Version Six. Mashable describes it as “The Modern Browser,” Chrome 6 does indeed boast a number of improvements, but as with previous updates, the focus remains on speed and simplicity.” Download it here: http://www.google.com/chrome

If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em?:

Once the leading social network, MySpace is now syncing up with Facebook. This week, MySpace announced that users can now sync status updates with Facebook. You can also sync status updates with Twitter. Even with this new development, with the introduction of Ping, Myspace has to wonder whether their last niche, music, will be compromised.

Spot Trot:

I am including a local social media pick this week  – this one derives from Richmond, Virginia. There are plenty of social media apps and tools being developed in Richmond, one of which is Spot Trot.  Created by Joel Erb, Spot Trot has a big music twist to it. The app offers a customized mobile platform to artists, which they build for their fans. Clients include Dave Matthews Band and Tim McGraw. Partners include Live Nation and Apple. You can follow them on Twitter at @spottrot.

-Anna (@alucas9)


Social Network, Meet iTunes

by Feedback

Casual Internet users, we apologize.  If you had difficulty accessing your favorite websites or email at approximately 1pm EST this afternoon, it was surely on account of the swarms of music geeks, Apple fans and tech aficionados (Feedbackers are required to be all three!), all huddled in front of their computer screens, anxiously awaiting the semi-annual revelations from our turtleneck-and-jeans wearing oracle of smart, stylish gadgetry, The Steve.  Among the many involuntary ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ over streamlined iPods, updated software packages and a revamped AppleTV, was an added feature to iTunes 10 that makes so much sense, we may instantly wonder how we ever lived without it. Get a load of Ping

Steve Jobs described it as ‘Facebook and Twitter, meet iTunes’.

The capabilities of Ping include:

  • Social music discovery: you can share music you’re listening to and see music your friends are listening to
  • Follow and be followed: you can follow, and be followed by, friends and artists
  • Share your thoughts and opinions
  • Custom song and album charts: See top 10 lists customized by what your followers are listening to
  • Over 17,000 concert listings: You can see upcoming concerts, and share concerts you are attending
  • Easy integration with the iPhone/iPod Touch
  • Available immediately

Our first thought? “Sorry, MySpace.  It was nice knowing you…”  Our second thought: Could anyone but Apple do this? Doubtful.  When you have over 160 million active accounts already using iTunes, it’s easy to see how this could catch on.  And before you cite Facebook’s half-billion users, consider that iTunes number doesn’t include the millions who download the software just as a music player/organizer/podcast feeder and never buy anything.

From the following screenshots, you can get a look at Ping, and see that it integrates seamlessly with the iPhone/iPod Touch.

The first screen shows an artist’s page, own-able by the performers themselves, which you can easily imagine would be a boon to the fan relations of all acts, big and especially small:

Next, the individual profile page, where you can share your musical taste with your friends and followers, even showing them what shows you’ll be going to.  This represents a tremendous opportunity, again for artists, but also for fan meetups and peer networking:

Finally, the ubiquitous “feed” page, where you see the most recent updates from the people you follow, what they’re listening to and what they’re buying:

Still think “how did we live without this?” is a bit hyperbolic?  Let us know your thoughts while we furiously refresh the iTunes download page.

- Thomas (@thomasmcdonald) & Anna (@alucas9)


Anna’s Social Media Picks of the Week (07/02/10)

by Feedback

Do you have time to search the web everyday to find the newest social media tools? If the answer is no, then you have come to the right place. I have searched the World Wide Web for social media information all week, and stumbled upon a few favorites along the way. Here are my picks of the week:

Apple Addressed iPhone 4 Reception Issues:

Those who are lucky enough to have the iPhone 4 and unlucky enough to have reception problems along with it may soon have a solution…sort of.  Apple has admitted that the formula they use to calculate signal strength is “totally wrong.” Basically, this issue could cause a person to see 4 bars on their phone when they are actually in a poor service area. Apple is now going to follow AT&T’s recommended formula and will offer a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. This new software will be available for free for the new iPhone, as well as the iPhone 3Gs and 3G.

Hulu Plus:

The online television website Hulu is now offering a paid subscription for additional episodes.  The subscription will cost $9.99 a month, and will offer more episodes of shows to viewers. The tagline for this new service, called Hulu Plus, touts “More wherever. More whenever. Than ever.” Recent episodes from ABC, NBC, Fox & other network shows that were always free will still be of no charge to viewers.

New Facebook Stats:

Facebook has released some new interesting stats, the most astounding being that Facebook users spend 16 billion minutes on Facebook every day. A cumulative 16 billion minutes every day. Other stats include that 50% of active users log on to Facebook every day, about 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States, and more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices (and these users are twice as active.)

New Facebook Photo Feature:

Facebook is testing a new photo feature this week. This feature uses facial detection technology to make the photo tagging process easier and faster. Facebook also mentioned that there will be more photo features to come. View the official Facebook blog here: http://bit.ly/9j3kdh

Google’s News for You:

Google has revamped Google news by making it more customizable and sharable. This new feature, called News for You, tries to make the Google News homepage relevant to each user. You can go to the news homepage and edit personalization options to customize what subjects you want on your homepage – such as business, health, entertainment, or any subject you want to add. This new feature also makes it easier you to share stories on social networks.

-Anna (@alucas9)


They’re Back!

by Feedback

The Feedback Mobile Lab has returned (finally!) from Bonnaroo.  Here at HQ, we continued to monitor Twitter feeds for ‘Roo, but those in the field have returned with video treats and observations about social media use at the festival.

Notes from the Home Front

When you think of Bonnaroo what pops into your head? Certainly not Brazil! Believe it or not, the Manchester festival seems to be quite popular in this South American country as demonstrated by the surprising number of tweets in Portuguese.

On Friday the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) posted an article entitled, “PR’s Role in Building Bonnaroo,” highlighting PR’s role in the evolution of the festival. In essence, the PRSA attempts to take credit for Bonnaroo’s success, and seems to discredit the festivals original crowd and perceived purpose.  We found it comical that the article was tweeted almost a week after its posting, used poor grammar, and came out when Bonnaroo attendance was low in comparison with recent years.

Saturday afternoon’s World Cup match between the United States and England was expected to be a popular topic among festival tweeters. However, surprisingly few tweets circulated around the world’s most popular sporting event over the weekend.  Much to our dismay, Bonnaroo was a little late starting the game’s live video stream, causing ‘Roo-goers to miss the opening ceremony.

The most common themes of the weekend centered around the heat and the bands.  Extreme temperatures caused tweeters to vocalize their discontent, but who could blame them? On Friday, Nashville was reported to have a heat index of 100!   ‘Roo goers, likewise, expressed their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with band performances on Twitter.  Reviews posted by Spin! and Rolling Stone magazines were frequently linked; however, it is indescernable if this was by those at ‘Roo or those at home living vicariously through the opinion of others. Our hearts were captured by The New York Times’ “4 Word Review” – short, sweet, and simple.

Another favorite of ‘Roo fans was Aziz Ansari’s photo with Beyonce and JayZ (http://bit.ly/d5005G) is staggering with 100 retweets.

Notes from the Field

In a previous post (Feedback’s Off To Bonnaroo 2010), we mentioned some of the apps the Feedback team was would be testing in the field.  Well test they did! Here are some of their findings.

The biggest issue at the festival, by unanimous vote, was cell and wi-fi service. According to Dean (@dbrowell), Bonnaroo’s problem is that it has an end customer that is savvier than they are.  They need the technology to accommodate them.  In spite of this, though, our field agents were able to get a pretty good idea of how some of these apps worked.

The team agreed that the official Bonnaroo app, while an improvement from last year, still has a few kinks to work out.  The schedule feature worked well, but Road Trip was virtually useless.  Bonnaroo radio’s purchase feature, while a good idea, was ineffective.  This function could greatly benefit bands, provided Bonnaroo and Apple can get it operating next year.

In the eyes of soccer fan Jeff (@ideaman), the FIFA app worked very well.  A banner for MobiTV ran across the top, and for $9.00 he was able to sign up for the service and watch live matches streamed to his iPhone.

Hot Potato, while a cool app, did not achieve the level of adoption we had hoped for.  It seems we were a bit ahead of the curve on that one though, because today an updated and much more efficient version of the app is available. Another new app, FriendMapper, was interesting, but likewise had glitches.  Friends have to be logged in for it to work properly because it doesn’t automatically find and geotag you.  The team believes that partnering with events or vendors would likely help remedy this issue and make the app more user friendly.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for observations from the field.  Feedbackers at Bonnaroo have seen some things no man should see.  Stay tuned for future updates and detailed reports on the utilization and success of social media at Bonnaroo.

Before we part, we at Feedback would like to send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Matt Sloan.  His untimely death was a shock and tragedy.  May his memory rock on.

— Feedback Intern Brittney Trimmer (@bntrim). Video montage edited by Feedback Intern Brad Carr (@bcarr).