CES 2012: 4K, Ultrabooks and Ice Cream Sandwich

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as usual was crazy big, and with a few key exceptions (Apple comes to mind; everyone flocked to Las Vegas to demonstrate the latest gadgets and gizmos including, the latest display products. These included mobile devices - both smart phones and tablet PCs; notebook computers and TVs.

The goal of this post is to help you better understand industry terminology and highlight the latest products at this year’s CES enabled by Applied’s display technology.


Of the hundreds of gadgets that were on exhibit, one that caught the majority of spectator’s wide eyes was LG’s 84”, 4K 3-D TV with internet connectivity. But the question you’re probably asking yourself is: what is 4K? We are talking about TV picture resolution. Most of us are familiar with the current high definition (HD) resolution standard of 1080p. In other words, 1,080 horizontal lines of resolution that is progressively scanned with a 16:9 aspect ratio of 1080x1920 or 2,073,600 pixels, also known as Full HD. 4K refers to 4 times the pixel density of 1080p, so we’re taking 3840x2160 or 8,294,400 pixels, which is four times the resolution of the previous standard. This is also referred to as “ultra-definition” television.


Another “Ultra” product featured at the show was Ultrabooks, this year’s response from laptop manufacturers to compete with popular tablet PCs. Ultrabooks combine the thin and lightweight form factor of the tablet PC with a larger display and the computing power of a notebook computer. Ultrabook demonstrations at CES included the Toshiba Protégé Z830, Acer Aspire S5, Samsung Series 9, HP’s Envy 14 Spectre, and Asus Zenbook UX31. I was impressed to find that Ultrabooks really give you the form factor and feel of a tablet PC, with features such as thin design (the thinnest is the Acer Aspire S5 at 0.59 inches thick); ultra-fast start-up and up to five hours of battery life.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the code name for Android’s latest 4.0 operating system, was another hot demonstration at the show. Android is the mobile device operating system developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance. Android has quickly become the dominant operating system for non-Apple mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet PC’s. You may have noticed that Android has a sweet tooth - each version of the Android operating system to date has had a dessert codename. Previous versions were codenamed Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb. ICS promises to unify the look and feel of an Android device experience across both smart phones and tablet PCs. User interface enhancements include easier navigation using swipe gestures and improvement of native resolution to 720x1280, which is a higher resolution than the iPhone 4’s Retina display. Upgraded communications features include Wi-Fi direct and or near field communication (NFC) Beam, which allows NFC-equipped smartphones to share content wirelessly from one Android device to another. Very cool!

If you are purchasing a smart phone or tablet PC and are expecting Android ICS capability, check the product specifications to ensure it has been upgraded to your smart phone or tablet.

For more thoughts from CES, check out my colleague Max’s blog on the future of TVs.

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