Friday, January 07, 2011

What I Wish Would Come Out of CES

This time of year, I take a break from my higher-ed wonkery and indulge in gadget wonkery. It’s the Consumer Electronics Show! (Sadly, I’m not there. Just musing...)

Unfortunately, the folks at CES seem to be obsessed with the wrong problems. I’m not waiting with bated breath for the forty-seventh variation on an Android tablet. I don’t especially care about 3D tv, and all the cool 4G stuff just serves to remind me that my neck of the woods barely has 3G. Any time y’all would like to leave to cozy confines of New York City and San Francisco, feel free...

What I’d like to see come out of CES:

- A variation on a Roku box that has enough good content on it that I can finally drop cable tv. Right now there’s a plethora of stuff you can add to a tv, but not quite enough to cut the cord. (That’s especially true when you have kids who love SpongeBob and Chowder.) Based on my experience with Comcast, if you were to tell me that it was the second shooter on the grassy knoll, I’d believe it. The first company that issues a wifi-connected box with enough goodies that I can drop cable will get my business.

- Actual honest-to-goodness broadband competition. Right now my choices for home broadband are basically 1) Comcast or 2) suck it. Unregulated for-profit monopolies are not pretty. While we’re at it, let’s get some serious net neutrality rules in place so Comcast-as-ISP couldn’t kill the super-Roku box in the name of preserving its monopoly on video on demand. Because they would, the scum-sucking cretins.

- The following tweaks to the Ipad: a case with a foldout keyboard that folds out to full size and isn’t all spongy; a usb port; and a serious price cut.

- A printer that works consistently, and uses affordable ink. While we’re at it, an office-caliber photocopier that doesn’t know the meaning of “paper jam.” (I still think that someone will make a fortune with a laptop that has its own built-in printer, like a Polaroid camera. It will spit out documents on command. You heard it here first...)

- Cheaper solid-state drives. Hard drives are just not reliable enough, but a small laptop with an SSD immediately hits a thousand bucks. Let’s see something like the smallest current Macbook Air, but around three hundred bucks.

- Two words: battery life.

- Y’know, it wouldn’t actually physically kill app developers to write some stuff for WebOS. I’m just sayin’...

- A dog-to-English translator.

- A “car diagnostic” app. I’d love to know if something is on its last legs, or if the mechanic is lying to me.

Wise and worldly readers, what would you like to see?