CES 2005: A Silencentric Summation

The Silent Front
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January 17, 2005 by Russ Kinder, Edward Ng and Charles Gilliatt. Photography by Edward Ng.

Editor's Introduction

Any technophile who didn't attend will have read at least one news report of the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show by now. There are easily a dozen CES coverage articles in just English alone, never mind all the other languages that abound on the web. Many that broke it up into daily reports. Many by teams of professional tech journalists with years of experience.

So what can three enthusiast volunteer reporters for SPCR tell you about CES that has not already been done in a bigger and better way? They can bring you the show from a Silent PC Review perspective, a distinctly different perspective not shared by any other publication or web information site in the world.

SPCR's news team of Russ Kinder, Edward Ng and Charles Gilliatt spent several days in the controlled chaos that is the CES show in Vegas, slogging through miles of convention center aisles and ogling everything in sight to bring you an SPCR-centric report on CES 2005. No serious attempt at order was made, nor was there any point trying to assess noise, as the ambient level in the conventional halls probably exceeded 65 dBA on average. Nor is this anything remotely close to a comprehensive look at all the products. Consider it an idiosyncratic, selective web log — blog — from CES through SPCR eyes.

Mike Chin

INRODUCTION: CES 2005

Russ Kinder: You wouldn't think that a convention hall jammed full of industry wonks -- half of them talking into their cellphones, the other half trying to converse with each other in half a dozen different languages over the amplified marketing pitches coming from a hundred different booths at once -- would be the place to see the in-roads that quiet computing has made. But you'd be wrong. Having attended previous CES's, I was amazed by the percentage of the computer hardware exhibitors who now include the concept of "quietness" into their marketing. Although it'd be nice to think that our little corner of the internet at SPCR had something to do with that, in reality we have just been at the leading edge of a curve thats been slowing growing under the radar, and is only now becoming widely acknowledged. The real driving force behind most of the new attention to noise is the push of the PC out of the office and into the living room. Literally everyone had a multi-media-home-theater-web-appliance-widget to display, and they all wanted people to know how "un-PC-like" they were, which usually translates as "quiet". Yes, CES was a grand party, a convenient excuse to go to Vegas, a chance to see today what everyone else will see in 6 months.... but it was also an affirmation that at least part of the mission that SPCR set itself upon is being achieved.

Charles Gilliatt: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the CES... Picture 1.5 million square feet of electronics, venders that know their product inside and out, venders that allow you to examine any product you want from any angle... and let's not forget the fabulous babes showing off their companies' goodies. To top it all off you are in Las Vegas, sin city, gambling to all hours with free drinks. Wandering the convention floor for 3 days plays havoc with your feet but the pain is worth it, for around every corner there is a gem, a new gadget or company you have never heard of with the best product you have seen yet, like Transmeta's OQO. What can be better? It's a nerd's dream weekend.

Edward Ng: This was my first time going to a convention of such a scale. I learned a ton of stuff and saw a heaping pile of interesting things, but feel that I could have seen more, still, and missed a couple things I was hoping to see. Among the best experiences were Antec's private engagement, the Transmeta OQO, and the rest of the Transmeta presentation in general, and then my own visit to Alexis Park to hear, for myself, how Vandersteen's speakers actually sound as well as the glorious performance of TAD Home's Model One loudspeakers. It's a shame I spent way too much time looking unsuccessfully for Silverstone's booth, and somehow managed to forget about seeing Paul McGowan and PS Audio's new Gain Cell products. I'll be more organized next time around, carry less weight, and bring a second pair of comfortable footwear. One thing's for sure — I'm definitely doing this again!

HIGHLIGHTS

» High-performance bling-oriented MGE barged into the quiet computing and HTPC market with a series of new low-acoustics products.

Russ: MGE was one of the surprises of the show. For a company that is usually known for garishly decked out gamer cases they had some really interesting stuff to show. If I were a gambling man, I'd bet that their HTPC cases are sourced from Arisetec (formerly Kanam, the makers of the early Ahanix Dvine cases). Not a show-stopper, but I would be very interested in us doing a review of one of them.

Ed: The preproduction case above shows the external styling of MGE's upcoming MCC 101 HTPC chassis. A demo video showed the side covers to be damped with acoustic barrier foam. A pair of big, passive radiators with heatpipes float above the components once installed, to deal with heat from installed components. This is their Proline HTPC Chassis design, and will also be available in a tower model called the GC 101.

Charles: Definitly some potential with this case. The video showed alot of new and interesting ideas that I have not seen in an off the shelf HTPC. It will be interesting to see what actually goes into the production model.

Ed: The impressive looking Magnum is MGE's take on the passive PSU, actually more of a hybrid, much like Antec's upcoming Phantom 500. Like Thermaltake's passive PSUs, the Magnum relies on an external array of heatpipe copper fins to bolster the cooling. An 80x15mm fan kicks in for additional cooling under heavier thermal loads. An LCD display on the production model will display power load, actual voltage on the 12, 5 and 3.3V rails and operating temperature. Cables are modular and the enclosure is an aluminum assembly that resembles the construction of Lian-Li's V series cases.

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