Sitting here in Framingham, Massachusetts, I'm 4500km miles away from CES 2012 in Las Vegas, but even from this vantage point I can see that one of the biggest themes of this year's event is simply: Thin is in.
SHOWTIME: Best of CES 2012
One vendor after another from the start of the show has trumpeted how svelte its latest technologies are:
*Huawei claimed the world's most slender smartphone, the 0.26-inch thick Ascend P1 S (pictured). The Android 4.0 device boasts a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 8MP camera, 1GB RAM and a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen. The phone is headed to Europe in March and should be available in the United States by summer, probably for around $400.
*Corning is demonstrating Gorilla Glass 2, which the company claims is 20% leaner but just as sturdy as its earlier version used for screens on tablets, smartphones and other devices. The company's marketing chief says the thinness will only add up to about 0.004 inch in most smartphones, but will prove clearer and better for touch applications. Mass production starts in the first half of this year.
*Samsung and Verizon pulled out the qualifiers in announcing the market's thinnest 4G LTE tablet, the 0.31-inch-thick Galaxy Tab 7.7. The Android 3.2 device has a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 1280-by-800-pixel resolution screen, 16GB of internal storage, weighs about 12 ounces and will be available in the coming weeks. Pricing hasn't been revealed.
*Toshiba says its Excite X10 tablet is just 0.3 inches thin, making it the world's skinniest 10-inch tablet. A 16GB model will cost about $530, and will be available this quarter.
*HP, Lenovo and others unveiled thin and light laptops dubbed Ultrabooks. Acer called its A5 laptop the world's thinnest. The 0.59-inch-thick device is powered by Intel's new "Ivy Bridge" Core processor. The newfangled computer also includes support for USB 3.0 and Intel's Thunderbolt I/O technology.
*Samsung Electronics said its 0.9-inch-thick 3D Blu-ray Disc player is the world's thinnest DVD player. The BD-C7500 can even be wall-mounted.
While manufacturers only have so much room with which to work, the trend toward thinness should continue as new components, such as nano-SIM cards, and the use of super thin materials such as graphene make their way into devices.
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