Tag Archives: CES

Microsoft Research imagines an immersive future for gameplay with IllumiRoom

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft Research unveiled one of their latest projects called IllumiRoom. Like most of their ongoing technological marvels of the future this one is quite fascinating so perk up. Imagine you’re playing a video game–let’s say Halo 4–and all of a sudden the on-screen action extends beyond the confines of your TV set. In an instant the mysterious jungles of planet Requiem surround you and you feel as if you’re truly immersed inside the captivating game developed with precision by 343 Industries. Microsoft’s IllumiRoom attempts “to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in allowing us to combine our virtual and physical worlds.”

So how does it all work? A peek behind the curtain reveals two devices: the pairing of a Kinect for Windows camera and a projector. “Our system uses the appearance and the geometry of the room (captured by Kinect’s sensors) to adapt projected visuals in real-time without any need to custom pre-process the graphics.” Sounds simple now, doesn’t it? Unfortunately like most Microsoft Research projects IllumiRoom is only proof-of-concept, but with engineers working hard to make Kinect even more powerful and projectors keeping pace with high definition resolutions, the technology is there for this prototype to enter the marketplace. Let’s place IllumiRoom in the pile labeled “not if, but when.”

Watch Illumiroom perform its magic in the video embedded above; Microsoft ensures the action was “captured live and is not the result of any special effects added in post production.”

[Via MicrosoftResearch]

4G LTE comes to Windows Phone Mango in HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900

Microsoft is heating up the competition by introducing two new 4G LTE enhanced phones for its Windows Phone collection. The HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 are in fact the first 4G LTE smartphones to run Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone iteration “Mango.” Let’s start with the Titan II. Besides packing the 4G chip, the new Titan features a giant 4.7-inch super LCD capacitive touchscreen and an impressive 16 megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, autofocus, and dual LED flash. The rear camera also supports 720p HD video recording, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing one allows for video chat. Inside you’ll also find a single-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor and a 1,730mAh battery.

Nokia’s Lumia 900 is the bigger brother to the Lumia 710, the latter of which is the first smartphone to come out of Microsoft’s strategic alliance with the Finnish handset maker. (The Lumia 710 is now available to buy on T-Mobile for $50 on contract.) The 900 sports a larger 4.3-inch (800 x 480) AMOLED ClearBlack display, a 1.4GHz single-core processor, 512MB of RAM, Carl Zeiss-branded eight megapixel camera with large aperture (F2.2) and wide angle focal length (28mm) and LED flash that supports 720p HD video capture. Around the front you’ll find a camera also boasting a large aperture (F2.4) and a wide angle lens. Inside the polycarbonate body lies a sealed 1,830mAh battery. When it becomes available, the 900 will come in two flavors: cyan and matte black.

Microsoft’s first 4G LTE Mango phones are coming exclusively to AT&T later this year. Images below, PR and video after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2] READ MORE 4G LTE comes to Windows Phone Mango in HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900

Motorola outs two new handsets, Droid 4 & Droid RAZR MAXX

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Motorola announced two new Droid-branded smartphones: the Droid 4 (see above) and a newcomer to the RAZR line called the Droid RAZR MAXX (see in the gallery below). Let’s start by looking at the former’s specs. The Droid 4 packs a 4-inch qHD display with scratch and scrape resistant glass, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, an eight megapixel shooter with 1080p HD video capture and Mirror Mode to display images and video on an HDTV, 16GB of onboard memory, and it also features the Droid’s signature five-row QWERTY keyboard. All of this and it’s only it’s only half an inch thick. It will come preloaded with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and Moto says it will be upgradable to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in time. The Droid 4 will take advantage 4G LTE speeds when it releases on Verizon Wireless “in the coming weeks.” No price announcement just yet.

The Droid RAZR MAXX, the successor to the reboot RAZR, doesn’t deviate too much from its relative. The big difference between the two is battery life. The “MAXX” refers to the smartphone’s giant 3,300 mAh battery pack which Moto promises can deliver a whopping 21 hours of battery life on a single charge. The larger battery makes the new RAZR slightly thicker measuring at 8.99 mm. Another upgrade: the MAXX comes with more internal storage, 32GB to be exact. Like the Droid 4, the MAXX will be 4G LTE super-charged on VZW’s network and pricing and availability is TBA. PR and a Droid 4 promo clip sit after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2] READ MORE Motorola outs two new handsets, Droid 4 & Droid RAZR MAXX

Motorola invites Bionic into the Droid family

The Droid Bionic from Motorola is one helluva smartphone.  It’s super fast, both in processing and network speeds.  It’s one of the first mobile phones to pack a dual-core processor, with each core running at 1GHz, delivering up to 2GHz of processing power, and it’s Moto’s very first 4G LTE enabled phone.  More specs: 4.3-inch qHD display, 512 MB of RAM, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera, front-facing VGA camera, HDMI out.  It will ship with Android 2.2 (Froyo) on board.  Moto’s also pushing Mirror Mode, a function that enables simultaneous streaming of video to the TV and on the device.  All in all, this is a pretty solid device.  2011 is going to see a big push towards faster phones with larger, higher quality displays and right now the Bionic is the clear leader of the pack.  Precise price point and release date have not been specified yet, but you can expect it the Bionic to land on Verizon Wireless in Q2 2011.

At CES 2011 Verizon kept reiterating the blazing speeds of 4G LTE.  They claim the next-gen cell service is up to 10 times faster than current 3G speeds and they used a fun example on stage at their press event to show how these incredible speeds can be utilized.  They invited Electronic Arts to show off Rock Band Mobile‘s multiplayer capabilities.  Owners of select 4G LTE devices will be able to “jam together” with up to four friends over the network.  Verizon is hopeful Android apps will take advantage of 4G LTE’s fast speeds with wireless connectivity functionality as featured in the upcoming Rock Band game.  Look after the break for the PR which lists the 20 songs in the game; there you’ll also find a video demonstration.  If you didn’t know, Verizon plans to expand its 4G network to blanket its entire 3G coverage area within the next three years.

[Via Engadget, here & here]

READ MORE Motorola invites Bionic into the Droid family

Motorola Xoom & T-Mobile G-Slate will run Android Honeycomb

Motorola and T-Mobile were downright giddy to announce their upcoming tablet devices at CES 2011.  That’s because they are excited to bring Honeycomb, Google’s latest iteration of Android built entirely for tablets, to salivating consumers.  Since I already detailed Honeycomb, I think it’d be best to simply jump into specs talk.  Let’s start with the Motorola Xoom since there’s far more information about this product out there.  The Xoom features a 10.1 inch (1280×800) screen and packs NVIDIA’s latest Tegra 2 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of DDR2 RAM.  There’s a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with dual LED flash and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera; support for 720p video recording and 1080p video playback; 32GB of onboard storage that’s expandable with SD card support; 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth; and ports include HDMI out, micro USB 2.0, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.  There’s also a built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting.  It will ship with 3G support and eventually gain 4G LTE support on Verizon’s network.  As far as battery life is concerned, Moto’s only saying that it supports up to 10 hours of video playback.  Note that the Xoom does not pack physical buttons.  With Honeycomb, Google no longer requires hardware manufacturers to include buttons along the rim of their devices.  What used to be buttons are now illuminated icons that can be made visible on the device in landscape or portrait modes.  Motorola says they’ll ship the sexy Xoom tablet as a 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled device in Q1 2011 (we’re in that quarter now, so soon!) and they promise these devices will be upgradeable 4G LTE in Q2.  Also in Q2 Moto will introduce an all-out 4G LTE/Wi-Fi- enabled Xoom.  According to recent reports, a strictly WiFi-enabled version will also debut in the Spring.  The Xoom looks like it’s going to be a hot item when it ships; a speedy Tegra 2 processor and the tablet-optimized Honeycomb OS marriage will surely make for an enjoyable mobile experience.

An honorable mention goes to the T-Mobile G-Slate because it is just one of the few tablets announced at CES 2011 that promises to run Honeycomb when it releases.  T-Mobile has partnered with LG to make the hardware. Aside for it being the “first 4G Android 3.0 powered tablet” from T-Mobile, we know nothing else about it really.  At the press event T-Mobile and LG execs held up the mystery tablet, and it look like standard fare–a black slate.  We’ll have to wait for a more detailed announcement in the coming weeks.

Look in the gallery below for close-ups of the Motorola Xoom, and hop after the break to read some PR and watch a couple introductory product videos.

[Via Engadget, here & here]

READ MORE Motorola Xoom & T-Mobile G-Slate will run Android Honeycomb

Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series hides a full keyboard under a tablet

CES 2011 was host to a myriad of upcoming tablets running Android, Windows 7, custom skins, you name it.  Samsung’s Sliding PC 7 Series is certainly one of the most innovative and is a stand-out winner in my humble opinion. At first you might look at the slate and think it’s just a thicker iPad.  But that thickness is apparent for a reason; hiding underneath the tablet is a slide-out chiclet keyboard with a trackpad.  This hybrid machine doubles as a 10.1 inch tablet and a small notebook PC.  I’m really impressed with the design factor here, but specs are important too: 1366×768 multitouch display, Intel’s 1.66GHz (Oak Trail) processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, 4-in-1 memory card reader, webcam, 802.11n WiFi, 3G/WiMax & DLNA support, built-in accelerometer, USB, HDMI out, will last up to nine hours on a single charge.  Samsung’s Fast Start feature will boot up the machine in as little as 15 seconds, or restore it from Hibernate and Sleep modes in 3 seconds.  The hybrid will ship with Windows 7 Home Premium and Samsung’s custom skin called Touch Launch that “comes with preloaded applications that are optimized for the touch screen display.”  To launch Sammy’s skin you simply and elegantly swipe a blue strip located on the screen bezel.  The Sliding PC 7 Series will drop in March at $699.

I’m really digging the choice hardware manufacturers are giving consumers when it comes to tablet design.  Companies like Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung are creating such inventive, sleek hardware designs that give users the option to use a simplified OS in a tablet form factor and a more robust Windows experience with a touchpad/keyboard present.  I like the idea of having a tablet that can easily be converted into a more full-fledged computing device when a full-sized keyboard is needed.  At just 2.2 pounds, Samsung’s slider isn’t that hefty and I think I can sacrifice a couple pounds in weight and some inches in thickness to know that a reliable physical keyboard is just a hand gesture away from accessibility.

Jump after the break to see the notebook do its transformation thing.  Official PR’s there too.

[Via Engadget] READ MORE Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series hides a full keyboard under a tablet

Microsoft details the next generation Surface

I’m sure you’ve heard of (and maybe even interacted with) Microsoft’s Surface.  It’s a multitouch table that can be found in banks, hotels, and AT&T stores.  An example of its function: at an AT&T store you can place down two smartphones and the table will recognize their presence and provide with specifications and features to help you make a purchasing decision.  Surface is known for its multitouch and object recognition capabilities.  This week at CES 2011 Microsoft detailed the next generation Surface dubbed “Surface 2.0 Experience.”  Building on top of the original Surface functionality, the new experience features PixelSense technology, “which gives LCD panels the power to see without the use of cameras.”  Microsoft explains, “PixelSense gives an LCD display the power to recognize fingers, hands and objects placed on the screen, including more than 50 simultaneous touch points. With PixelSense, pixels in the display see what’s touching the screen and that information is immediately processed and interpreted.”  For instance, in addition to recognizing touch inputs like your fingers, Surface can now “see” things that touch the screen.  For example, if you placed a piece of paper with the words “Hello, world” printed on it on top of the Surface display, the software will recognize and interpret the letters instantly.  In a word, Surface has become smarter.

Microsoft has collaborated with Samsung to create the next physical Surface table called “SUR40.”  Table specs: 40-inch 1920×1080 HD multitouch display, 2.9GHz AMD Athlon II X2 dual core processor with AMD Radeon HD 6700M Series GPU.  And now that the table comes in a thinner form factor (it’s four inches thin) customers can mount the table onto a wall if the space calls for it.  Otherwise, standard or custom table legs can be designed and requested.

At $7,600 the Surface is still geared toward business customers and not the general consuming public.  Companies like Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm Corp., Red Bull GmbH, Royal Bank of Canada, and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts have expressed their interest in developing custom software for the Surface and deploying it at their respective locations.  SUR40 will be available “later in 2011” in 23 countries around the world.  Look after the break for official PR and a video demonstration of the new Surface experience in action.

[Via Engadget] READ MORE Microsoft details the next generation Surface

Lady Gaga takes over Polaroid, shows off instant digital camera, mobile printer, and futuristic camera glasses

If you didn’t know, Lady Gaga was appointed the Creative Director of Polaroid.  You know, the company famous for inventing the chunky camera that almost instantly spits out pictures onto film sheets.  In 2008 Polaroid announced the discontinuation of its self-developing film, but now they’re back and with the help of Gaga they hope to reinvigorate the nostalgia of the aged Polaroid camera and their overall brand with three new products. The “Polaroid Grey Label” includes the GL30 Instant Digital Camera, GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, and the GL20 Camera Glasses.  The GL30 is reminiscent of Polaroid cameras of the past and uses ZINK Zero Ink Technology for instant printing.  Users can select from a number of filters and borders before the image pops out of the portable, sleek digital camera.  The GL10 is a portable printer that also uses the ZINK technology and images are instantly printed on smudge-proof, water-resistant film that resembles white photo paper.  The GL20 glasses has to be the coolest product of the bunch, and they’re something only Lady Gaga could think of to invent.  The fashionably loud and futuristic glasses double as a digital camera.  You can instantly capture or upload pictures with it and then display the images on the glasses’ LCD screens for others to see.  Sounds strange at first but the idea is quite novel.  It’s just another way to express yourself.

All three products were shown off in purely conceptual form at CES 2011, but Polaroid is confident they will ship the printer in May 2011 for $149.99 and the camera and glasses “later this year” at undisclosed prices.  Look at the pics below and PR is after the break.

[Via Engadget]


READ MORE Lady Gaga takes over Polaroid, shows off instant digital camera, mobile printer, and futuristic camera glasses

CES :: Day Two (includes more photo galleries & video interviews)

 

On January 9, 2010 the broadcast team and I hit up the CES show floor again to capture more pictures and video from the most exciting booths.  This go around includes the following companies: Sony, NovelQuest, Marvell, Toshiba, MSI, BlackBerry, NVIDIA, and TASER.  Day Two coverage adds to the amazingness that was Day One in a way you can only see to believe.  Again, please watch the introduction video embedded above and then jump after the break to watch new video interviews.

Don’t forget to check out the numerous galleries below that contain pictures from all around the convention floor.

BlueAnt, BlackBerry, MSI, TASER, NVIDIA, Asus, Toshiba, Sharp, and more

Sony

 

*Jump after the break to watch new video interviews.*

READ MORE CES :: Day Two (includes more photo galleries & video interviews)

CES :: Day One (includes photo galleries & video interviews)

 

The date is January 8, 2009.  The place is Las Vegas, Nevada.  The time is now.  Coverage from Day One at the Consumer Electronics Show is here.

Please get aquainted with what you’re about to witness with the introduction video embedded above.  Once that’s done, jump after the break to watch a bunch of video interviews.  Topics range from computers to cell phones to TVs.  We checked out the following booths: Haier, Intel, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Panasonic, and Sling Media.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.  (Oh, and FYI–this is my first time playing the “interviewer” so please bare with me.)

Also be sure to check out the numerous galleries below that contain pictures from all around the convention floor.

Intel

Microsoft

Samsung

Panasonic

Haier

Sling Media

  

*Jump after the break to watch a bunch of video interviews.*

READ MORE CES :: Day One (includes photo galleries & video interviews)

Pro Audio technologies

Today we travelled to the Venetian hotel to check out the pro audio section at CES.

The gallery below contains photos from the following pro audio companies: pARTicular, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, PS Audio, Acoustic Technologies, LLC, Halcro Audio, AudioQuest, MBL of America, Scaena, and J-CORDER.

Out of all the speaker systems we saw, just a couple stood out from the pack.  Though I do not consider myself an audiophile (videophile, yes!), I do have a keen eye for industrial design and an ear for “good sound.”  What is considered “good sound”?  You know when you hear it.

The first company that had us bobbing our heads to the insanely good sound of their equipment was Anthony Gallo Acoustics.  Their funky looking carbon fiber speakers blasted Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” with heavy bass and a crisp sound.

PS Audio has created an advanced system that is controlled by touch screens and iPhones/iPod touches.

Acoustic Technologies, LCC speaker set is the first of its kind.  It features a single 3” full range driver and it does not require a “sweet spot.”  This means that no matter where you stand in the room you can hear the sound emitted from the speakers without distortion.  For example, you can even stand behind the speakers in the corner of a room and the sound will sound the same as if you were sitting right in front of them.  Very neat.

This is what $7,200 RCA cables look like:

The Scaena speakers feature “stackable subwoofers” and they each output the same frequency.

Our last stop was at J-CORDER and their pro audio equipment proved to be the best looking yet.  Their booth featured custom analog Technics reels and McIntosh amplifiers.  They claimed to be “true audiophiles” because they believe analog technology reproduces a higher quality sound than digital production.

All in all pro audio is continuing to advance in sound quality and design, as is most technology.  Soak in the gallery the below and hit up the company’s links if you’re interested in their products.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the (not live) live blog of the Microsoft keynote and the pro audio coverage thus far.  Today we are storming the convention show floor and will be reporting back here with the latest tech goodness in the days to come.  Videos, pictures, and impressions straight from the CES show floor are coming soon.  Stay tuned.

Live blog :: Microsoft keynote with CEO Steve Ballmer (update: not live, but still “blogged”)

First let me start by saying that I am sorry about all the confusion.  I had originally promoted this page to be a source for a “liveblog” (meaning up-to-the-minute live coverage) of the Microsoft keynote.  Unfortunately due to many mishaps I was forced to cut the live out of liveblog.  However, I was able to successfully record everything that did happen and you will find a full summary of the keynote below.  Also, be sure to check out the large gallery of pictures from the event.  As a press member, I was able to get up close and personal to Steve Ballmer and crew, so check ’em out!

After waiting in line for about an hour, I walk into the Hilton Center presentation room and quickly grab the closest seat to the stage.  At about 6:15PM, the announcer gives his usual instructions to turn off cell phones and be seated for the keynote.  Music from Franz Ferdinand and Phoenix abruptly gets louder as everyone expects the show to begin.  Promptly at 6:35PM the lights in the room go down, then up, some computers crash, and the main center-stage screen turns black.  The announcer explains, “…we’re having a small power problem.”  Funniest sight of the night–a few of the computers set up on stage went into Windows recovery mode.  Oh boy.  Finally, at around 6:54PM the lights go down for real this time, the CEA logo shows up on screen, and the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got a Feeling” plays behind a short video of what’s to come this week on the show floor.  Then Gary Shapiro came out to welcome us to CES (“the world cup of innovation”) and say how bad the economy has been and how well the tech industry has plowed through it.  Finally, at 7:00PM (a full half hour behind schedule) Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is introduced to the stage.

Ballmer begins by saying how technology has impacted people all around the world, even through economic hardship.  To show an example, he plays a video that contains SNL’s Seth Myers.  Myers talks about how tech has changed his life, with focus on voice chat, video games, eBay, and Twitter.  He summarizes it all by saying, “Thanks technology…oh I’m wasting my life.”  The bit was funny and received a good amount of laughs.  Next Ballmer explains that the presentation will focus on three aspects: the evolving PC, the cloud, and natural user interfaces (or NUIs).

 

Ballmer dives in with the mention of their latest foray into the search engine business with Bing.  “Bing and we Bing.  Bing, Bing, Bing!”  OK, Ballmer, calm down now.  “I want to take a closer look at some of what we delivered in 2009.”  (1) Xbox: Project Natal is coming soon; over 39 million Xboxs around the world; over $20 billion in total game revenue; new Xbox Live account is created every second.  (2) Bing: over 11 million new users; anticipates what users are really looking for (remember, it’s a “decision-engine”); Maps, PhotoSynth; Microsoft and HP are teaming up—Bing will become the official search engine on all HP computers.  (3) In-car technologies: Ford Sync (new look is on the way); Fiat sold its one millionth with Blue & Me and eco:Drive; Microsoft is partnering with Kia Motors to create a new in-car system based on Windows due out Q3 2010.  (4) Zune: Zune HD, Zune Marketplace; video offered on Xbox Live.  (5) The mobile space: Windows Mobile; he holds up a HTC HD2 (running WindowsMo 6.5), which is revealed to be coming to the US on T-Mobile.  (6) Windows 7: 3 goals–faster, simpler, enable a world of new possibilities for developers, manufacturers, and consumers; “Windows 7 is the fastest selling OS in history,” 94% customer satisfaction, “There’s a Windows 7 PC for everyone,” “4 million Windows applications in all.”  “enough talking about Windows 7, let’s show you.”  After touting Windows 7, Ballmer introduces  Ryan Asdourian, Senior Project Manager at Windows, to the stage to show off some new Windows 7 PCs and more.

There’s a bunch of shiny computers sitting on a long table to stage left, and Asdourian walks Ballmer on a tour through them.  There’s an Sony all-in-one PC, a Lenovo A300, the stunningly thin Dell Adamo XPS (he demonstrates the touch lid), the ASUS NX90, a bunch of tiny netbooks including ones from Lenovo, gaming laptops (Ballmer puts on 3D glasses as Asdourian plays a quick round of a racing game), and smaller PCs, the Acer Revo and Dell ZinoHD.  They were going to top it all off with a PC built into a TV, but due to the early technical difficulties they could not.  Bummer.

Asdourian exclaims he is now going to play the part of a student to show off the software side of things.  He tours Ballmer through a bunch of new features in Windows 7.  First he shows off the new Bilo e-reader software.  Bilo will offer over one million books, it allows pictures and embeddable video, and it can even read the text aloud to you!  Then the not-yet-released PowerPoint 2010 is launched.  They demo document syncing between two different PowerPoint windows, show off a few new snazzy PP transitions, and Ballmer types “Developers, developers, developers.”  Yes.  Many laughs.  Next Asdourian plays a video in Windows Media Player of a Seahawk mascot jumping out of a plane.  Ballmer calls this act insane, but not as crazy as the Seahawks season.  Ouch.  Then he switches over to Bing and talks about Bing Maps.  He uses Bing Maps to reveal the exact location the plane jumping took place, showing off some very neat 3D effects and zooms.  He also showed off a new Maps effect–the ability to make surroundings more “realistic.”  He added animated snowflakes to the maps location.  Cute but not functional; moving on… Asdourian shows how you can watch TV on your PC.  “I can watch four HD channels at once time here.”  Next he demos front-end Internet TV using Windows Media Center in Windows 7.  Networks like CBS and The CW offer content here.  He “surprises” the audience and says that he in fact was the Seahawk fan who jumped out of the plane and reveals another video to prove it.  OK, enough, we get it.  Microsoft Mediaroom is next.  Mediaroom 2.0 is “the next version of Microsoft’s IPTV solution for service providers.  He announces that AT&T subscribers to UVERSE will be able to use it on their Xbox 360s later this year.  This announcement is pretty rad; AT&T UVERSE subscribers will have the ability to use their 360s as a set-top box!  He demos Mediaroom on the big screen and shows how you can transport video content to a mobile device (he uses an HD2 to prove his point).

Next Ballmer takes the baton and reveals the next form factor of the PC, the “Slate PC”.  (Interesting label, hm Apple?)  Now sitting on the long table are three slate PCs from Pegatron, HP, and Archos.  He holds up and gives a short demo of the HP model.  It features multitouch and runs Windows 7.  Beyond that, no other details were revealed.  Kindle software is demoed with touch-based page flicking.  Media software is opens and Ballmer awkwardly taps a couple times to begin playing a second Seth Meyers video.  This time he’s talking about “everything important that’s ever happened in tech.”  (That is, video games, cell phones, and the Internet.)

Ballmer peaces out for good (wait, no goodbyes?) and Robbie Bach, President of the Entertainment & Devices Division, walks onto stage to talk Xbox.  He’s really excited about the next year in video games thanks to the impending launches of Mass Effect 2, Crackdown 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Fable 3, add-on content for MW2, and Alan Wake.  For this reveal, a fog machine splashes some grey onto the stage and ceiling lights flicker like flash lights.  He also describes the game as a mix between “TV show Lost as written by Stephen King and directed by David Lynch.”  Doubt it but OK.  Lastly, but of course, there’s  Halo: Reach.  The newest trailer we have already seen still gets the audience pumped for its Fall 2010 release.  He discusses other services that Xbox Live offers besides online gaming, namely Netflix, Avatar merchandise, music downloads for related games, Facebook, Twitter, and LastFM to name a few.  He mentions the recent Zune Marketplace integration with Live and demos its 1080p instant on streaming capability with a quick clip from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  Next up is something new called Game Room.  It’s a place where your avatar can enter his personal arcade and play retro classics like Millipede and Astrosmash.  This spring you will be able to play 30 arcade games on Xbox 360 and a Windows PC.  Oh–and you only have to buy a game once on a platform to play it on the other.  Bach played a short video–ahem, a “showdown”, between avatar versions of himself and Ballmer playing the arcade games against each other.  Last he dives into Project Natal goodness.  He says that Microsoft has spent 30 years studying natural user interfaces and all of their hard research will culminate with Natal.  He shows a video featuring a bunch of Natal developers and they explain the hard work and excitement that went into this project.  Notable quotes: “What Natal does is it evaluates trillions of body movements a thousand times a second;” and “From the technology side is to make it seamless: you act, it understands.”  The big reveal?  Project Natal (still a codename) will be available holiday 2010.  And as we know, it will work with all existing Xbox 360 hardware.  After a short quip about the future of innovation, Bach thanks the audience and leaves the stage.

Wow, really?  That’s it?  Those are the phrases that instantly popped into my head after Bach left the stage and the house lights turned back on.  Are you kidding me?  For a Microsoft keynote this was terribly underwhelming.  No crazy cool reveals and demos, and more importantly, no Ballmer meltdowns (although he did mention “developers” a couple times).  For the most part this year’s keynote reiterated many things we had already been made aware of in the past (important MS innovations of 2009, the simplicity of Windows 7, already announced 360 titles, etc.)  Sure, the Mediaroom upgrade and announcements, the demo of Bilo, the slate PCs, and the Natal release window were interesting and noteworthy, but other than that…meh.  Starting with the ominious power outage this year’s Microsoft keynote at CES proved to be an uneventful gathering.

Look after the break for the intro videos for the HP “slate PC” and Xbox 360’s Game Room.

READ MORE Live blog :: Microsoft keynote with CEO Steve Ballmer (update: not live, but still “blogged”)