The Gadget Show Live 2009

Unfortunately due to illness it’s taken me a couple of extra days to put this together, but at the weekend I attended The Gadget Show Live (GSL) at the NEC, Birmingham.  The Gadget Show is a UK television programme shown on Channel 5.  Each series has a weekly show and it showcases new technologies and compares leading products against one another.  it’s usually a good watch and the journalistic comparison is presented at a layman level and at the same time tends to offer some insightful points on practicalities of individual items.

My expectation of GSL was that I would get to see some of the latest consumer technology and maybe even get a hands on look at some of it.  The reality however did not quite match up to my expectations.  There were some notable exceptions which I’ll come on to, but in the main much of the technology that I saw were things that I could walk into my local electronics store or along the high street and purchase.  It really wasn’t as cutting edge as I’d hoped.

There were some interesting things that I did come across at GSL which I hope to post about at a later date.  But there are a couple of things that I feel deserve a more special and immediate mention.

The big thing that people seemed blown away by was in fact something very small.  Sony had a couple of OLED screens on display.  OLED stands for organic light emitting diode and is a technology that is going to lead the way over the next few years in terms of screens.  Apart from producing better colour contrast than LCD with a lower power usage, they can be laid onto a thin surface allowing OLED screens to be placed on materials and surfaces that might not be able to take the weight of an LCD unit or that would simply be impractical (a fabric wrist strap for a watch might be a good example).

The screens on display looked okay from a distance, but when you got up close the quality was evident.  The colour was really very rich and incredibly clear.  Unfortunately at over £3,000 these are a little too expensive for most consumers, though the price is set to drop dramatically in the next few years and hopefully we’ll start seeing larger screens appearing too.

What will be really interesting to see is how this is utilised for portable touch screens such as those on the iPhone or how about a roll-out mat that you plug into a screenless ultra-mobile device to run Microsoft Surface.  The future is looking cooler and geekier every day.

The second thing I thought was particularly noteworthy was the “How-To” sessions run by TechDigest.  I originally dropped by to sit in on a panel discussion around the future of mobile phones but a shuffle in timetabling meant that I also sat in on ‘How to choose and HDTV’ session.  Both sessions were lead by Daniel Sung (TechDigest’s Editor) and were really quite interesting and informative.  The mobile phone session was supposed to have Richard Warmsley of T-mobile, but for an undisclosed reason he didn’t make it - so the panel consisted of Daniel Sung, Duncan Geere (TechDigest Editoral Assistant) and a guy from Geek Squad whose name I unfortunately can’t recall (but he was a good addition).

The general thrust of the future of phones was suggested to be around services and particularly around functionality delivered through application stores.  The arguments for this were well reasoned and the pitch was very much like a round the water cooler discussion which was one of the things that really made this session appeal to me.

I also came away with a 1 GB flash drive with details from all of the how-to sessions.  A nice and much appreciated touch - so thanks to TechDigest for that.

So that’s my uber brief round-up of some of the best and whilst it didn’t live up to my personal expectations, it was certainly a lot more relaxed that the “ICT trade shows” I’ve been to for work.  Hopefully I’ll post a few more bits and pieces about GSL in the not too distant future.

Author: Stephen Millard
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