Reflections on the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show from Future Shop’s Elliott Chun

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas isn’t just an opportunity for manufacturers and developers to build up consumer hype around their products. It’s also a major event for retailers, who attempt to gauge public interest around these products and possibly determine what products will be picked up for sale in stores.

One such retailer attending this year’s CES was Future Shop, represented by communications manager and blogger Elliott Chun. Chun spent the weekend looking for products that would make waves in 2011, and took some time out of his busy schedule — despite having a wicked flu — to tell Techvibes what he found.

“I think the developments in 3D TVs were more prominent at CES,” he said. “I think there were some manufacturers that were trying to hurry … the glasses-free 3D televisions, but it is encouraging to know that they’re looking for a way to go to that. What is more encouraging is seeing that now you can use passive glasses with LG 3D TVs. You don’t have to worry about powering up these glasses as you currently do today, and that’s good news for the consumer because that will be reflected in the price as well.”

“Manufacturers are getting it. 2010 was the year that we marketed TVs as ‘3D TVs are here, you can get them now.’ But now it’s more of 3D as a feature on today’s TVs. We believe that 3D is here to stay. We’ll have about 50 per cent of our in-store displays having 3D TVs … by fall of this year.”

Chun also mentioned Samsung as a possible future leader in television technology. In addition to TVs with a slimmer profile around the screen, Samsung is focusing on device interaction, allowing their TVs to stream video to laptops, smartphones and even the Galaxy tablet.

Speaking of tablets, Toshiba’s as-yet-unnamed offering seemed to steal the show. The Android device seemed to be built for durability, which Chun sees as an important element forgotten by other tablet manufacturers.

“I think Toshiba did a nice job of putting on an Android device. It did really look like a fine piece of artwork, if you will,” Chun said. “The fourth screen, as we’re calling it now, really needs to be durable … and they’ve kept that in mind with the way they’ve built it. They have a rubberized texture on the back of the device, so it seems very durable. It’s really more of an easy pick up solution where people can bring it anywhere right off the bat and not worry so much about having it battered around.”

But what about RIM’s newest gadget, the PlayBook? It turns out there isn’t much play in the PlayBook, because RIM’s efforts at CES were spent promoting the device as a tool for work. Chun noted the device had some impressive features, notably interactivity with BlackBerry phones to increase productivity.

Chun was also impressed by the display from Monster, and their car audio product the iMotion CarPlay Direct Connect. The iMotion allows a driver to control an iPod or even a smartphone or tablet computer with hand motions, which could be a big seller as more Canadian jurisdictions move to ban talking on a cell phone while driving.

Chun’s “sleeper pick” among the hot products at CES were appliances, of all things. Home appliances are becoming more interconnected, he said, as well as smarter. He noted that refrigerators being made now can tell their owners when certain products are running low and stoves can even give recipe ideas.

These smart appliances are even doing a better job when they’re broken; LG has designed a washer and dryer that can run an automatic diagnostic program when they break down and send a report to the factory or a repair shop, saving consumers the money it costs to bring a repairman in to see what the problem is. As well, just about every appliance at CES was at the cutting edge of energy efficiency.

To see more of Elliott Chun’s picks from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, click here.