Intel and Microsoft

Intel's Core line revamp, wireless innovation

Intel officially launched its 32-nanometer process with the arrival of several new Core i7, i5 and i3 processors. These included 11 Arrandale chips for laptops and six Clarkdale chips for desktops -- the first with built-in graphics as you may have seen in our Intel Core i5 661 review -- released alongside seven new chipsets and new Intel Centrino Wi-Fi and WiMAX adapters.

The company showcased a host of notebook systems from all the usual suspects, accompanied by netbooks and tablets running the tiny Atom chip. In total, more than 400 mobile and desktop platform designs are expected from computer makers based on these products, with another 200 expected for embedded devices.

While most of this information was revealed prior to start of the show, Intel still had one tidbit to keep us interested at CES: their new WiDi (Wireless Display) technology. Basically WiDi works by using a laptop's Wi-Fi connection to communicate to a Netgear adaptor box which then hooks up to a HDTV via HDMI, all with the touch of a button. There is a slight delay that will go almost unnoticed for those watching videos -- playback at 720p worked smoothly on Intel's demo and 2-channel audio was perfectly synced.

But as pleased as we were to see this straightforward and hassle-free approach to outputting PC to TV wirelessly, there are plenty of limitations as well. Besides the fact that WiDi is still not responsive enough to handle gaming or even desktop work, the technology requires a laptop running one of Intel's new Core i7, i5 or i3 processors (specifically the i7 620M, i5 540M, i5 520M, i5 430M, i5 330M or i3 350M), Intel HD graphics, and the Intel wireless Advanced-N 6200, Advanced N + WiMAX 6250 or Ultimate N6300 wireless chips.

Only a handful of notebooks from Dell, Sony and Toshiba will launch supporting the functionality starting January 17, with the Netgear adapter box expected to sell for an extra $100 or so.

Microsoft shows off different product divisions

Microsoft had one of the larger booths at CES 2010 (a massive 16,000-square-foot booth to be precise) highlighting several of the company's divisions as well as offering some sweet eye candy and gimmicks for those passing by. Although there was not much in the way of new products, we enjoyed creating funky musical loops with strangers by pressing a series of interactive cubes in a blue cylindrical room, and playing a friendly match of checkers on a Microsoft Surface table -- which still manages to draw a crowd to this day.

The company's most significant new release was perhaps its Mediaroom 2.0 software, which can be used by television operators to enhance their options for providing service and viewing choices to customers. As you might expect, a lot of focus was put on Windows 7 as well, with several PCs and netbooks from a variety of manufacturers used to showcase many of the operating system's features.

Microsoft also touted its Bing search engine, some of the newest Windows Phones, Zune services and accessories, the upcoming Microsoft Office 2010 suite, the Xbox 360 and various in-vehicle technologies.