Weekend Update 01.09.10–The Hangover Edition


Only a few days ago, the AllThingsDigital team left home freshly pressed, pockets full of cash (or at least as full as journalists’ pockets get these days) and ready to take on the geek horde at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Walt, Kara, Katie, John and Peter had big plans, but in the end, even a copy of Eric Boyd’s “How to Count Cards Like an MIT Freshman” could not save them. They did do a heck of a lot of reporting on CES though. At least they could bring back some news, if not new Ferraris from the dealership at the Wynn.

BoomTown is no stranger to Vegas, so Kara got settled in quick and spent day one hopping up and down The Strip to see presentations and fiddle with gadgets of all sorts. She caught up with Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer after he rocked his keynote just a little too hard and the power went out. I guess maybe he shouldn’t have turned that tablet prototype all the way up to 11. Kara caught the scoop on Electus’s Ben Silverman and his new deal with Yahoo. It seems the Internet portal has brought him on to “produce content” for its new you-centric efforts. Yahoo (YHOO) is hanging its hopes on Silverman, who had success in his early career producing for TV. Kara even got the other side of the deal, catching up with Jimmy Pitaro, who heads Yahoo’s Vertical Audiences Experience, and SVP of North American Revenue Joanne Bradford. Kara hasn’t actually made it back to the City by the Bay yet, so we’ll keep you posted on when she resurfaces. Vegas can be a cruel mistress.

John was a CES coverage juggernaut this week, filing post after post or indispensable, up-to-the-minute CES nerdery. Early in the festivities, Intel (INTC) opened the door on its newest family of Core processors. With model names like i3 and i5 and with a feature called “Turbo,” you know they have to be good. The real story is that the release of these chips puts Intel a solid year ahead of expected releases from AMD (AMD). Though there were no reported sightings of an iSlate, John did deliver a little nugget from the CES rumor mill about their manufacture. Analysts are expecting the device to have an aluminum chassis when it may or may not be shown to the world at an unconfirmed Apple event Jan. 27. John was our correspondent in the audience at AllThingsDigital‘s Mini D event at CES. While there were posts aplenty, it was comments from Palm (PALM) CEO Jon Rubinstein that have been making the rounds on the Internet. Everyone was a little surprised when Rubinstein claimed never to have used an iPhone. Weekend Update has used a Pixi and we might just believe him.

Peter was in full effect at CES this week, trolling around CES with his sizable entourage. Okay, maybe the MediaMemo groupies aren’t that numerous, but Peter was a reporting rockstar nonetheless. In advance of his onstage interview with Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings, Peter wrote about the deal inked between the rental giant and Warner Bros that would delay availability of new DVD releases by Netflix in exchange for more streamable content from the studio. In a quick breather from CES news, Peter reported that Google’s (GOOG) Eric Schmidt and some other Technorati were en route to dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department. No word on which reality TV stars would be crashing that party. MediaMemo rounded out the week with a post about Hearst’s effort to save its sinking ship. It turns out that when the ship is in trouble, you turn to a Skiff for help. The newspaper giant has reportedly plowed $35 million into the nautically-named e-reader, and Peter brought us a sneak peek.

Our very own Mr. and Ms. CES (Walt and Katie) may come home with blisters and a bad case of “qwerty thumb” after handling so many new gadgets this week. The Personal Technology column was all about Google’s Nexus One, the latest super-smartphone from everyone’s favorite search giant. Walt’s review was a mixed bag for the Nexus One, which got high marks for advancing the Android platform, for forcing the other super smartphone giants to up the ante on their cameras and for some of it’s cool Google-connected features. He wasn’t as upbeat on the menu-driven interface of the phone and had qualms about the four hard-wired buttons. The battery life for some features also wasn’t as competitive as it might have been.

Katie spent some pre-CES time investigating the so-called mega-zoom digital camera offerings from Nikon, Panasonic (PC) and Casio. These in-between cameras aren’t quite so cumbersome as DSLRs but offer serious zooming capabilities with lots of other pro level features. Katie fell in love with the higher picture quality and flexibility, even if the cameras are a little bulkier than the smartphone she’d been using for her photo needs previously. All in all, though, she gave the class of cameras high marks and said they were a great next step for people looking to take their pictures a little farther.

Weekend Update has to get going. Its our job to prepare the ibuprofen, cold medicine, ice, bandages, crutches and bail money that may be needed by the staff as they make their way back from CES. Stay tuned through the weekend for a few more tech revelations, and please try not to play your stereo too loud if you’re driving near our Eureka Valley HQ in San Francisco this week. Hangovers after a gadget binge are the worst.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald