CES 2012 Overview: It’s Thin, Mobile, and Cloudy

Being a gadget hound, I’ve been ogling over the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show like an eight-year-old with a Toys “R” Us catalog before Christmas. The show is used to showcase the way technology is heading, and this year there is a clear message: Consumers don’t want to stay stationary.

The biggest buzz-word of the show seems to be “Ultrabook.”

What is an Ultrabook? Well, tablets have taken off because their super-thin form factor and instant-on abilities makes them a perfect way to get on the Internet instantly. The iPad and the Kindle Fire sold millions over the holiday season for this reason, but they do have limitations. Tablets are notoriously cumbersome for typing, touch screens have accuracy problems, and slow processors can mean weak performance. Ultrabooks address this by taking a high-end laptop, squashing it down to tablet thickness, adding some nice features like an aluminum case and an extra long-life battery, and you have something that makes both laptop and tablet owners turn their heads. Large desktop workstations are quickly going the way of the 8-Track Tapes and Console TV’s because people are demanding uninhibited portability.

Vizio's 14" Ultrabook. Look for similar products from Lenovo, HP, Acer, and Toshiba.

Portability, and more importantly, mobility is key. Cloud services are being introduced left and right, and there is a need for more convenient ways to access them. The idea of cloud services is using the Internet as a gigantic hard drive, where all of your tools, files, and applications installed. All that’s required is some kind of screen to view them. Gone are the days of having to go to a specific room, sitting at a specific desk, and using a specific computer to read your email or create a document. Cloud applications work exactly the same on any device, being a Smartphone, tablet, or 8 year-old desktop PC. This new-found freedom opens a lot of interesting options for today’s workforce.

TOAST.net foresaw this mobile revolution, which is why so many of our services are integrated with cloud services. Google Apps, Managed Antivirus, Online Backup, and other services are designed to be used when you need them, not when your computer is handy. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you’re able to edit sales figures from your phone while sitting in a car waiting to pick up your son or daughter from school. There’s a sense of security knowing you can get to your important documents from your home laptop because your office PC is on the fritz. Most important, there’s a sense of empowerment knowing you are fully in control of your information rather than your computer.

CES 2012’s underlying theme this year may be mobility, but the underlying theme is something more basic that people have wanted since the dawn of the Information Age: control.