LAS VEGAS--PCs on your coffee table, playing Monopoly. Super-thin ultrabooks. Voice and gestural computing. Intel showed these and more at their CES 2013 press conference. But does it add up to a firm control on the future of computing?
Fourth-gen Intel Core processors aren't on their way immediately, but at this year's CES Intel was ready to demonstrate how its "Haswell" code-named chips will make Windows 8 devices of tomorrow even thinner and smaller than now ... if you're in need of that. Fourth-gen Intel processors will require touch and have mandatory Intel Wireless Display, a wireless video technology that many PC owners still don't realize they already have.
Haswell is part of Intel's road map for computers into 2014, and the biggest gains could be in battery life and extra features normally not seen in laptops. In a demo on stage, a prototype 11-inch reference device called "Northcape" looked a lot thinner than existing ultrabooks, and Intel claims 13 hours of battery life in this trim-sized ultraportable.
Intel also demonstrated table-top computers, some of which are here already in devices like the Vaio Tap 20. The notion of bringing the family together over large touch-screen devices has been kicking around since Microsoft's tabletop Surface, and the real question about such devices would be how much they'd cost.
Perceptual computing was demonstrated via eye-tracking software and motion-control technology, using a Kinect-like peripheral from Creative that adds 10-finger gesture recognition. Future Intel devices may include this perceptual technology, and Intel promises some of this will emerge by the end of 2013. A demo showing eye-tracking across a "Where's Waldo?" puzzle was particularly compelling.
Finally, Intel even dabbled in pay TV. Comcast and Intel are working on a way to distribute live and on-demand TV onto laptops without a cable box coming later this year, and Xfinity is launching a home gateway to stream pay content as well. It's a little hard to get too excited about this: Roku announced a similar partnership with Time Warner Cable, and with many cable-accessory apps already allowing streaming on on-demand and live content on tablets, smartphones and game consoles like the Xbox 360, it's hard to tell how this will be significantly different.