I had the opportunity to attend the first Engadget Expand conference here in New York City this past weekend. Overall, I really enjoyed myself and thought that the price of admission was well worth it for the panel sessions alone. Here’s the breakdown, both good and bad, from the weekend.
- Good panel discussions. I found the panel discussions engaging and informative. My favorite discussion of the day was from LeVar Burton, host of Reading Rainbow and Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: TNG. The migration of Reading Rainbow from TV to tablet is a great idea in my opinion, and the fact that he is so passionate about using technology to improve education is something we need more of these days.
- Reggie Watts is a genius. He uses a mix of effects boards and synths in his one-man comedy/music shows. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he has one of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard live. It doesn’t hurt to be hilarious too.
- InsertCoin Competition. There were a lot of great submissions for this competition, ranging from high resolution scanning all the way to portable vegetable growing. My favorite project of InsertCoin was the GrowCube, an aeroponic plant growth system targeted towards urban settings. A close second for me was the high resolution scanner from the folks at BlinkScan. Their scanner/software combination produces excellent images as well as automatic background removal for non-uniform objects such as combs. Both of these projects have crowdfunding initiatives starting up soon, so that should give a good indicator of how well they will do in the marketplace. Check out Engadget for more information on all the Insert Coin entries.
- The Expo Floor. There were many good products out on the floor. The products covered a wide range of consumer electronics categories, including 4K displays (the price can’t drop soon enough on these), smart power outlets, and headphones. There is something fun about seeing a wide range of technology in one place, and meeting the designers for a few of the products is something that can be a rare event. I don’t always like the sales feel of some of the booths on expo floors, but you come to expect it at any of these events.
- Lenovo Yoga 10″ Tablet. I was lucky enough to win one of these tablets on day one of the event, and I did have some time to test out the device after the event. The kickstand on the device is designed very well, and is probably the highlight of the device. The screen, while only being 1280 x 800, looks pretty good in my opinion and is well suiting for showing off photos that I’ve backed up to Google+. Otherwise, the specs themselves are pretty mid-range, and I do not particularly like the skin that Lenovo added to the tablet. (I prefer stock Android.) Overall, I plan on setting up the tablet as a photo frame in our living room (the great kickstand makes this very easy) as well as for portable gaming. In particular, Ticket to Ride should work very well on this tablet. (Update: Ticket to ride did not work on the Lenovo tablet, perhaps due to a graphical issue. As soon as I tried to start a game, the board would just not appear and the app would hang.)
- Session Scheduling. The session schedule was more of a suggestion than a rule at some points during the event. I would have liked to see longer sessions built into the schedule for some of the more popular panels.