Showstoppers is Busy – Blame the Beer!

The first event that we got to at MWC was the Showstoppers event that took place in Central Barcelona. There were plenty of journalists, but not that many exhibitors. Amazing the reaction you can get by serving free food and drinks in the middle of a Sunday afternoon!

Showstoppers busyShowstoppers was busy with journalists. Image:Meko

VESA was attending the MWC Showstoppers event for the first time. The company was showing the Dell 8K monitor that was previewed at CES and was driving the monitor using a single cable and using DisplayPort 1.4 and the HBR3 protocol. At the moment, this is just at 30Hz, although once all the components are fully developed, and we’re close, it will run at 60Hz using the single cable. We also heard from VESA at the event that Qualcomm is supporting the DisplayPort Alt-Mode for USB Type C in its 835 chipset and had made support quite simple. We confirmed this with Qualcomm later in the show and found that only Sony had a new phone based on that chip at the show, although Samsung is widely expected to be planning to use the chip in the S8. Sony staff at the show were not able to comment on whether the mode is supported in its new phone.

VESA believes that the Nintendo Switch may be using the alt mode in the Switch, as the Type-C connector is used to attach the Switch to its charging base. Once docked, the Switch connects to a TV using HDMI. In theory, the system could use MHL or even the recently announced HDMI alt mode (although that would mean that it had designed it in before the interface was announced), but it seems more likely that the video is DisplayPort that is converted to HDMI in the dock.

Also on the booth, an Avegant Glyph headset was shown being run from a smartphone with DisplayPort, using a DP to HDMI converter.

Dell 8K DisplayDell’s 8K Display was being driven by DisplayPort 1.4 with a single cable. Image:Meko

HP Skype for business keysHP’s Skype for Business keys – Image:MekoHP was at the event with the Elitebook X360 that it launched at CES recently. Also being shown was the Elite Pro X2. As it happened, the Pro X2 was officially launched during the show and is seen by many as a competitor to the Microsoft Surface convertible notebook product line. The Pro X2, however, has been more clearly designed for corporate use and, more importantly, corporate support. While the Microsoft Surface cannot be maintained by a corporate IT department, the Pro X2 has been engineered to allow batteries and drives to be replaced by IT staff. The device also has a smart card reader option – said to be a significant requirement for US government purchases. Another unusual feature is a set of special keys for hardware access to Skype for Business.

HP Elite Pro X2HP’s Elite Pro X2 is designed to be more maintainable than the Microsoft Surface. Image:Meko

The 12″ display is said to have WUXGA+ resolution, which we take to mean 1920 x 1280 and based on UWVA technology with touch and using an eDP interface and Gorilla Glass 4. Processors up to Core i7 processors and 8GB of memory are supported and the graphics come from Intel’s HD Graphics 615. Mass storage is up to 512GB of SSD. There are radio options for 3G or 4G as well as GPS and NFC. The Wacom pen is standard, but can be omitted from orders. Connectivity is via USB Type-C.

Options include a ‘travel hub’ that has HDMI and VGA ports as well as dual USBs. Pricing is from $979, but can vary a lot depending on the options.

HP was showing its Type-C ‘universal’ docking station. Staff told us that although it was very happy with its previous universal docking station, which was based on DisplayLink technology, that product needs compact flash to store drivers. Corporate IT departments dislike devices that have flash memory at its end points, especially if they install drivers. The Type-C dock doesn’t need any drivers as it gets its graphics data via the DisplayPort Alt mode.

HP Type C HubHP’s Type-C Hub uses DisplayPort for graphics instead of DisplayLink. Image:Meko

The company also had its ‘shell’ product, the notebook form factor device designed to be used to convert a phone to a computer. We commented that while we liked the unit, we thought that the pricing was too high. From the reaction, I’d guess that we weren’t the first to make that point, but we were told that HP is very serious about this kind of device, so watch for more developments. At the moment, there is still work to do to make the experience as seamless and productive as it could be. Watch this space!

Vuzix, which is developing augmented reality hardware, was showing several products including the M300 glasses which are now shipping. Also being shown were the M3000 glasses that were shown at CES. These are intended for corporate use and are expected to start shipping at the end of Q2 for around $2,000. The image quality is very good in these glasses, which use waveguide technology.

Vuzix M3000 WaveguideThe light patch on the lens shows where the image is on the Vuzix M3000. Image:Meko

The Blade 3000 is a set of glasses designed for consumers and with styling that is intended to be sold as a complete system (it has Android 5.0 integrated) (Augmented Reality is the ‘Step-Sister’ at CES). As with other devices of this class, battery life is of the order of two hours. The pricing, when the glasses ship towards the end of the year, will be around $1,000 initially, although the company told us that it plans to push the pricing down to around $500, eventually.

Telesoftas is a Lithuanian app developer that we reported on recently (TeleSoftas to Develop a VR Application to Treat Phobias) and was at ShowStoppers to demonstrate its meeting/collaboration software for use with virtual reality headsets. Users can be represented by avatars and the system can import 3D objects as well as showing data such as Excel charts in 3D. Objects can be manipulated and shared in the virtual space. The system supports 3D audio to give spatial cues to help with conferencing.

Telesoftas VR SpaceTelesoftas is developing a VR Space for meetings and collaboration. Image:Meko