CES 2006

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posted 1/16/2006 by John Yan
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CES has been a show that I’ve always wanted to go to but never had the chance to. I had planned a vacation in Las Vegas and the timing coincided with the last few days of the show. With the little time I had, I only was able to book two appointments but both offered some good information on some upcoming products.

Sapphire
My first appointment was with Sapphire, makers of ATI products. They had a nice little meeting room in a restaurant in the Venetian hotel. The fine folks at Sapphire reiterated the fact that they are committed to quality for the upcoming year. Some of you might not know, but every product that comes out of Sapphire is tested before it gets into your hands.  To help communicate with their consumers, Sapphire’s website has been redesigned with support for 18 different languages. CEO of ATI, David Orton, has confirmed that Sapphire as being their number 1 partner.

Sapphire also stated that they are committed to producing great motherboards based on ATI chipsets. They showed me some of their packaging and one of the nice things I like about it is that the boxes have a clear display of the motherboard inside. This way you can check out the layout and features on the motherboard without having to open the box. You may be wondering why all of the new motherboards don’t sport the cool white coloring. The manufactures need a lot of work to clear out the dyes for the PCB for each color. I hope that more of their motherboards come out in white though as it’s a very striking color scheme. 

A few other products were shown but I am under NDA to disclose them. Rest assured they will be announced soon and I’ll be able to post the pictures once the NDA is lifted.  

Sapphire’s a great ATI partner and I look forward to what they have coming out in the new year.
 

ECS
The fine folks at ECS has been very helpful to us and they invited me to their meeting room up in the Tower Suites of the new Wynn hotel. My first time at the Wynn, I was very impressed by the design and décor of the place. I spent a good amount of time in the sports book of the hotel watching an NFL playoff game. Before that though, I hopped on the elevator up to the eighth floor to check out the goods from ECS

The one item that really caught my eye at ECS’s display was the P60 Digital Home PC Viiv unit. This small media center was pretty slick featuring a nice slot loading DVD-RW drive, a 3-in-1 card reader, a firewire plug, and a USB 2.0 plug in the front. On the back, you can see a DVI connector, two USB connectors, a few audio connections and a Ethernet port. I use optical connections on all my media centers and I was initially surprised to see a lack of one on the back of the P60. Unplugging the one audio plug that was inserted, I see the familiar red glow leading me to believe that that single jack is a versa jack. Coming in both black and white, the unit can be placed vertically or horizontally. The unit ran very quietly and didn’t seem to exhibit too much heat on the top. The P60 is one unit I’d really like to test in the future to compare to the various media centers I have built. The size and design is something I was really impressed with. 

On the motherboard front, ECS displayed a few that we’ve already reviewed or seen. One motherboard that did catch my eye was ECS KA1 MVP. As you can see from the picture, this is the AMD Crossfire solution.  The one thing I didn’t like about the board was the release clips for the PCI-E cards were just little stubs. Instead of a full latch, the clips make it difficult to pop when changing cards. I don’t know if the motherboards are in full production yet, but I hope ECS decides to change that little part of the product. Other than that, the board looks solid and I hope to be able to take it through its paces soon. 

Within ECS’s product guide, they also mention the KA3 MVP which uses the RD580 motherboard chipset rather than the RD480 on the KA1 MVP. The board features a Socket M2, something that AMD is transitioning their desktop line to.

ECS had a very nice setup away from the convention floor and I liked the calm and quiet atmosphere to be able to look at their products. The P60 and the KA1 MVP are the two products I really focused on and two that I’m very interesting to seeing once they are made available.

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