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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM

CES 2012: Wild new PCs, beyond Ultrabooks

LAS VEGAS — Ultrabooks are getting lots of attention here at CES but there are some other pretty cool new computers on display.

Here’s a sample, starting with a 10.1-inch gaming tablet with permanently affixed controllers. Intel was showing the system that gaming hardware company Razer plans to release later this year. Called “Fiona,” this one’s running an Intel Core i7 processor and will cost less than $1,000, according to an Intel representative. A Windows 8 version is likely.

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Sony is showing a concept “Slate” Vaio PC with a flexible case material. It functions like a tablet until you want to prop the display up and use a wireless keyboard. Then the back of the device bulges out, morphing into a stand. Sony didn’t show this happening live, only a video of the transformation. The first picture shows the device in tablet form; the second shows it with the bulge out:

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All-in-one PCs are a relatively bright spot for the industry. Lenovo’s flagship in the category is the new IdeaCentre A720, which it calls the world’s thinnest 27-inch all-in-one. That’s fudging a bit because the display is powered by a base unit containing the processor and optical drive. The A720’s big trick is that it tilts completely flat, which is handy for playing games or perhaps a little virtual piano, using the computer’s 10-point touchscreen. It will go on sale with Windows 7 in March or April for $1,299 and later in the year with Windows 8.

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Microsoft’s Harry Goodwin said he was going to call this monster Windows 7 touchscreen — 70-inches diagonal — the biggest slate PC at CES. But the manufacturer, Sharp, brought an 80-incher to the show for its own booth.

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The 80-inch Aquos Board will go on sale in March for a list price of $14,000, although you’ll probably be able to find it closer to $9,000. It’s really just a display — you need to connect it to a PC with an HDMI or VGA cable. A number of companies offer book-sized PCs that attach to the back of TVs, and Sharp has one available for its big board.

“This is perfect for a 20 x 20 conference room,” said Sharp’s Jim Wilson.

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