CES 2013 Live from Las Vegas Closing Statements!

CES 2013 Live from Las Vegas Closing Statements!

Well, CES 2013 is over! Which is a pity, because it really was filled to the teeth with wonderment. Also, they let you ride between the various halls on complementary golf carts. Have you ever been on a golf cart? I have. They're like cars for people who don't want to drive and enjoy giggling like idiots on a helium overdose.

Anyway, a few days ago, I gave you my half-time wrap-up, which was basically a handful of things I'd seen at the enormous expo that tickled my fancy. So to speak. So without further ado, here's the rest of what grabbed me, written after flying back from Vegas and spending a night recovering somewhat.

1. Steam Box!

Valve, the geniuses behind the expansive digital software distribution cartel, Steam (I call it a cartel because it always makes me do things I previously had no intention of doing), is making a move. Specifically, they're making a move towards creating an actual physical console which, like the Ouya, is going to be something of a big deal in the gaming world.

Basically, it's going to bring PC quality gaming to your TV, and will potentially allow for Linux or Windows. CES had a Valve booth with waist-high walls covered in relevant decals, but above the walls was another few feet of transparent plastic, through which could be seen a sort of makeshift loungeroom. Here, there were several couches, and two large television. Scattered around the bases of these screens, much like presents beneath big, flat, entirely uninspiring Christmas trees, were prototype Steam Box units.

Here's where things get interesting. After haranguing the press wranglers at the gate to the dullest nightclub ever, I managed to ascertain the following. First, Valve hasn't picked a company to make the unit yet. According to the guys at Valve answering out questions, they've been shopping around for options, and the units we saw were basically like the final contestants in a reality show. The whole X13 thing - namely, the claims online that X13 and their Piston unit have landed the contract - was disputed by the guys we talked to. I told them that what were were looking at were effectively various early prototypes for The Batmobile built by different manufacturers, and then suggested that Gabe Newell was like Bruce Wayne, and hadn't picked one yet. They laughed, agreed, and told us in the friendliest way possible that we should leave.

Whether they were giving us the brush-off or not, I suspect the other prototype cases are red herrings and that yes, the Piston is it. Which is potentially wonderful news, as it looks good, is incredibly small, has (apparently) one terabyte of internal storage, can be upgraded to run increasingly taxing games thanks to being a modular system, AND has the named Piston. PISTON. SO MANLY.

2. 4K Televisions!

Sony unveiled a horrifying 4k TV last year. By 4k, I mean a make of TV with about four thousand pixels horizontally. You know, the kind of resolution that shows every freaking pore on an actors face. Right now, I believe HD is considered 1920 by 1080, which means 4k is sort of scary, especially when the TV debuted last year that I mentioned is around $25 000. At CES this year, however, Sony announced two smaller, more affordable models with the same resolution: 55 inches and 65 inches.

The TVs in question also work pretty well with upscaling; several of the display models were showing 1080 content upscaled to 4k, and the colours were so clear and sharp them almost lopped my head off. Which, to be frank, could say more about the sturdiness of my neck than anything else.

The keynote speech on the Sony stage focussed a fair bit on Sony making 4k cameras, and ran through some of the films being shot with them. At this point they chose to brag briefly that they were working with M. Night Shyamalan, which struck me as being similar to bragging about having a particularly disfiguring disease. Nevertheless, it's fantastic that Sony are enabling creators, and it should make for some spectacular viewing experiences on these TVs down the line.

3. WheeMe!

I'm not writing about WheeMe, made by DreamBots, because I think it's the greatest invention ever. To be perfectly candid, I was too nervous to give it a test run, and frankly I've never had any great desire to pretend my back is the bottom of a pool and let some lethargic robot buzz around working on it. But the notion of a robot that "massages and caresses" as it moves around your back seems too good to NOT look at. So let's dive in with their promotional video.

Ok, I'm assuming (or hoping) that you paused it pretty early and yelled 'WHAT' somewhat loudly. That's what I did. The video for a sluggish back-massaging robot just started with the sentence 'millions of years ago, the first people appeared on Earth'. Which makes it sound like they just charmingly and spontaneously congealed here, like a giant magical scab.

The video goes on to claim that vague, drifting physical contact is immensely pleasurable, is part of who and what we are on a genetic level, and that this robot can melt your butter something fierce. Also, you'll notice that I snapped a photo of the robot being demonstrated on the back of what I initially thought was a well-preserved corpse, but was, in fact, a mannequin.

Long story short: I want one.

So there you have it. The odd smattering of CES news that I came across whilst there in Vegas last week. Thanks for reading!

profile of Paul Verhoeven