OK, so by far the most exciting thing I’ve seen at CES so far has to be the portable media centers from Microsoft (and their hardware partners.) I can totally see myself using one of these. Also, the price point they are targeting is very reasonable. (Not sure if I’m under NDA on that or not, so I can’t provide exact numbers until I confirm.) The UI is beautiful, and they’ve done a great job of subsetting the Media Center Edition functionality in a way that makes sense for the form factor.
A couple other cool things (which, coincidentally, happen to be Media Center related.) The Media Center Extenders are really cool. They are using an an advanced form of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop technology (enhanced to handle to video overlay.) They will be able to handle multiple concurrent extenders accessing the same Media Center PC, and the price is going to be reasonable for the extenders, and VERY reasonable for the X-Box version. I saw these in action, and the quality of the video looked great, as well as the overall experience. (Even though it has roots in Remote Desktop, all the animated transitions and the like were intact. I’m wondering how well this is going to work on slower wireless connections.) The other cool thing was a company that has a UI for managing a home automation system that integrates with the Media Center UI. Very nice.
I had dinner with some folks from the Tablet PC team and a few Tablet enthusiasts. It was a great time.