Coming off of the impressive 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it is nearly impossible to not have "Ultra" in the discussion.
CES was, intentionally, a showcase for Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) support of the latest ultrabook series of laptops, intended to directly compete with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) MacBook Air series. While Apple was not named, it goes without saying that these new devices from a multitude of OEMs, such as Samsung, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, and Inventec, are intended to fuel demand and competition for ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are truly exciting, particularly given the potential to fuel demand in both consumer and enterprise markets. Behind ultrabook excitement is the Intel Ivy Bridge mobile processor supporting an array of features that rival those of tablet PCs, but with the advantages of a laptop in terms of keyboard, ports, drives, software, etc.
Smartphones have taken a backseat to the super phones that are now making a wider debut. Intel announced Atom chips for phones in, which will also push feature set expectations. When we talk about mobility, though, we have to mention Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA), which continue to lead the market in numbers and in innovative chip design.
One noteworthy super phone at CES was the Samsung Galaxy Note. Originally announced in September 2011, this 5.3-inch phone/tablet hybrid will be released in the US through AT&T in 2012. This device is sleek, fast, and handles serious multitasking. It comes with a dual-core 1.4Ghz processor, 8-megapixel back camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, 1080 / 30p HD video, and 16GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB with a MicroSD card. Then there's the AMOLED screen, one of many OLED-family displays touted at CES, from 5.3-inches up to the impressive OLED TVs, which are not just about displays but also about TV integration and connectivity. So, 2012 is also looking to be the year of the smart TV, according to OEMs such as Samsung and LG.
Of course, the traditional audio-video car systems were at CES, but now the sophisticated navigation, tracking, and alarm systems are fully integrated with vehicle design. Some car companies, such as Ford and Audi, revealed their 2013 models at CES. Audi's A7, for example, showcased Nvidia's ability to be the device-automotive bridge with its Tegra processors for navigation and infotainment.
This type of showcasing is important because it underscores the increased penetration rate for semiconductor and electronics in the automotive sector, to the point where the automobile is truly a consumer electronics device and offers features that are improved upon due to advancing component technology. Not to be upstaged by Audi, Ford's 2013 Focus touted advances in fuel efficiency, safety, and performance, as well as its new Sync platform to integrate auto-infotainment and extend connectivity and integrate smart wireless devices into the car.
CES certainly delivered this year, with products showing imagination, durability, mobility, speed, integration, connectivity, smartness, thinness, and readiness. If the excitement around the devices is any gauge, 2012 will be an exciting year.