CES 2012: sneak peek highlights

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas officially opens for business Tuesday but thousands of reporters were given sneak peeks at what will be the world’s largest exhibition of personal electronic gear and accessories. Here are some highlights from the show.

TV maker Vizio rolls out a line of PCs

Vizio is hoping to find the same success it has had in the TV business in the competitive market of personal computing.

Irvine-based Vizio is showing off its new lineup of PCs, which consists of two all-in-one desktops and three laptop computers, all running Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system.

The company is planning on taking the same retail approach with its PCs that it used with its TV and home-theater products, selling its devices at lower prices than most rivals, Vizio spokesman Jim Noyd said.


On the laptop side of Vizio’s offerings, one will come with a 15.6-inch screen, and two thin and light versions will have a 15.6-inch screen or a 14-inch screen. For desktops, Vizio is planning on releasing two all-in-one models to challenge the likes of Apple’s iMac. The desktops will be built in both 24- and 27-inch screen sizes.

So far, Vizio has not offered details on the specs of its PCs or its processor partners, though the company said it is set to release its PCs this spring.

—Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Coating protects cellphones from water

Ever watch in slow-motion horror as your pricey smartphone leaves your hand too quickly and drops into water? Or maybe you forgot to take it out of your pocket after a workout or workday. The stories of toilet tragedies are myriad.

But according to a Santa Ana start-up at CES, it doesn’t mean your phone has to go down the drain.

With an iPhone sitting in a cylinder of cascading water, representatives from Liquipel showed off their patent-pending coating that provides invisible armor against accidental water exposure.

Danny McPhail, co-president of Liquipel, said the coating will outlast your phone. It permanently bonds with your device on a molecular level. It costs $59 to have your phone treated with the coating.

—Michelle Maltais

Dish Network to offer prime-time TV on demand

The capacity of today’s hard drives is so enormous, the average consumer might have a tough time figuring out what to do with it. Dish Network has an idea: How about giving TV viewers the chance to watch every prime-time program on the four major networks that they missed in the last week?

The satellite operator, the third-largest pay-TV provider in the U.S., announced at CES that its new Hopper digital video recorder will have an extra tuner dedicated to capturing all the prime-time programs broadcast by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. It also will have a 2-terabyte hard drive, giving it enough room to hold on to all those recordings for eight days — along with hundreds of hours of movies and shows chosen by each Hopper’s owner.

Unlike other digital video recorders, however, the service doesn’t let viewers fast-forward through commercials, one of the most appealing features of most DVRs.

The Hopper is designed to feed smaller set-top boxes, called Joeys, in other rooms of the home. According to Dish, a home equipped with a Hopper and three Joeys can watch four different recorded shows simultaneously.

—Jon Healey

Spending on tech devices to hit $1 trillion

Fueled by growth in emerging markets, global tech device spending is estimated to hit $1 trillion for the first time in 2012.

“It underscores just the magnitude of this marketplace,” said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Assn. “When you’re talking about a market of 31/2 billion people that all want TVs, that all want phones, that’s a huge market opportunity.”

—Andrea Chang