CES 2011 Pre-Show: AMD-based notebooks, Toshiba 3D and more

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CES 2011 doesn’t officially start until Thursday, January 6th, but that didn’t stop several companies from showcasing some of their latest toys at press events starting on Tuesday night. The team from NotebookReview.com was there to see what the pre-show events had to offer, and we picked a few of our favorite finds.

AMD drops the “Fusion” bomb
Our regular readers are probably well aware of AMD’s “Fusion” concept by now. We were among the first publications to spend some hands-on time with AMD’s first look at Fusion: the “Brazos” platform. Without getting too technical, Fusion is the concept of taking the traditional central processing unit (CPU) and the graphics processing unit (GPU) and combining these two chips onto a single piece of silicon.

The fusion of the CPU and GPU into an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) means that AMD can make a single chip that takes up less space and consumes less power than the two chips working separately. This also means that in some ways APUs are faster because data doesn’t have to go through as many steps when it’s being transmitted between the CPU and the GPU.

The bottom line for notebook PC users is cheaper notebooks with improved battery life and much better video and gaming performance.

AMD got things rolling with a bang on Tuesday night with a Fusion Launch Party hosted by Joel McHale (host of “The Soup” on the E! Network). McHale delivered a range of questions to AMD’s CEO, Dirk Meyer, and several other guests. The message was clear: AMD is poised to make a huge impact on the notebook market in 2011 with a wide range of budget-priced notebooks that deliver better performance (particularly in terms of video and gaming) than anything we’ve seen from equivalently priced notebooks and netbooks using Intel processors.

Of course, it takes more than an elaborate fake talk show with AMD executives to prove that these new AMD APUs can deliver the goods. Thankfully, AMD came prepared with a huge variety of notebooks that will be on display at CES and will soon be available at stores near you. Some of these notebooks are still “officially” under wraps until the start of CES, but we spied an ASUS Eee PC netbook running one of the new Brazos platform APUs, an HP Pavilion dm1 running the Zacate E-350 APU that we previewed last year, not to mention a Sony VAIO notebook, an MSI netbook as well as systems from Acer and MSI.

The most impressive part of these demo notebooks was the fact that all of them were playing HD content and games without any of the playback problems common to budget-priced notebooks and netbooks and most (if not all) of the systems on display will retail for less than $600.

 

Toshiba delivers 3D without stupid glasses
Almost every major electronics company in the world has been working on “glassless” or “glasses-free” 3D since the trend in 3D displays took off in 2009 and 2010. The biggest problem that consumers have with 3D is that it requires the use of 3D glasses. While there are several ways to deliver 3D without glasses, few of these solutions work as well as those annoying glasses. Toshiba (along with several other companies) has developed a solution that takes advantage of a notebook’s built-in webcam and facial recognition software to adapt the display to the eyes of the viewer (or viewers) in order to “beam” three dimensional images directly to your eyes without the need for glasses.

Toshiba had several HDTVs with this new technology on display during a pre-show event on Tuesday night, but the real hidden gem was a Toshiba Qosmio notebook using the new glasses-free 3D technology. The notebook is currently available in Japan and Toshiba representatives said that this model or a model with similar features would be available later this year in the US.

MSI shares the love with Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors
During the CES Unveiled pre-show MSI launched a total of 11 new notebooks, all including the new Intel Sandy Bridge platform. In addition to these high-performance processors, MSI is teaming up with DynAudio to bring an “Authentic Fidelity” audio experience similar to what that manufacturer provides in high-end premium cars. Some of the key technical specs for the new notebooks include:

MSI FX420

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor
  • 14” 1366 x 768 LED Backlit Display
  • AMD Radeon HD 6000M-series with 1 GB DDR3
  • DVD Super Multi

MSI FX620/FR620

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor
  • 15.6” Full HD 1920 x 1080/1366 x 768 LED-Backlit Displays
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 500M-series with 1 GB DDR3 (FX620)
  • Next Generation Intel GMA HD graphics (FR620)
  • Blu-ray/DVD Super Multi

MSI FX720/FR720

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor
  • 17.3” Full HD 1920 x 1080/1600 x 900 LED-Backlit Displays
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 500M-series with 1 GB DDR3 (FX720)
  • Next Generation Intel GMA HD graphics (FR720)
  • Blu-ray/DVD Super Multi

 

MSI GT780R

  • Windows 7 Ultimate / Home Premium
  • 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor
  • 17.3” Full HD 1920 x 1080/1600 x 900 LED-Backlit Displays
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT X 500M-series with 1.5 GB GDDR5
  • 4 SO-DIMM RAM Slots, up to 16 GB MAX
  • SSD+HDD Combo
  • Blu-ray/DVD Super Multi

 

Be sure to visit the NotebookReview.com home page as well as the rest of the TechnologyGuide.com websites to find out the latest news from CES 2011.

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