The first introductory events of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off quietly this weekend, giving the world a glimpse at the coolest, shiniest new gadgets out there. The show doesn't actually start until Tuesday, but the sneak previews are a great chance for companies to get out in front of the inevitably oversaturated tech news cycle that the week brings.
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One cool-looking gadget that caught our eye comes from Lenovo, the makers of the very boring-looking ThinkPads. It's called the IdeaCenter Horizon Table PC and is eye-catching mostly because it looks like something out of an Onion article about zany gadgets at CES, except it's absolutely real and you can totally buy one. What is it? Well, for lack of a better analogy, it's like one enormous iPad that you can carry around your house, play boardgames on and use as a table. Just be careful not to spill your drinks.
To be exact, the Horizon's 27-inch touchscreen is the equivalent of eight iPads jammed together. Its guts are comparably scaled up and include everything you might expect from the latest desktop PCs. It runs Windows 8 as well as a new operating system developed by Lenovo called Aura. It's also portable thanks to a built-in battery, though it only lasts two hours. "Portable" might be a bit of stretch, too, since it weighs 17 pounds. Nevertheless, you can prop it up on your desk and write emails to your grandma then pick the thing up and take it to the living room where you can lay it flat and play a fun game of Chutes and Ladders with the kids. Lenovo also made a bunch of accessories like joysticks and air hockey paddles for even more fun for the whole family. There are also some prototypes on display that integrate the machine into pieces of furniture like a coffee table so that the computer really is a part of the home.
We've been anticipating the dawn of the tabletop PC since 2008, when Microsoft unveiled a 30-inch machine called the Surface -- not to be confused with the recently released Surface tablet. Like the Horizon, it featured an interface straight out of Minority Report and made us wonder just what we could do with a giant horizontal screen. But since each Microsoft Surface machine cost tens of thousands of dollars, not many people were able to take them home and experiment. Features aside, the Horizon stands out for its relatively reasonable price starting at $1,699, the price of about three iPads.
All that said, it remains to be seen just how useful these things will actually be. Kind of like the very cool but also basically ridiculous mirror computer we saw last year.