SXSW Trade Show 2012
Introduction, Hardware Vendors
This year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Trade Show brought together many small and global companies with computer hardware and information technology backgrounds as well as creative industries that produce art, music, and movies. SXSW interactive badge holders and showcased artists got an inside look at the newest innovations in mobile social media platforms and applications, open source web content management systems, professional audio/video technologies, and other multimedia products.
Since I write for PC Perspective, I narrowed the focus of my trade show coverage to companies creating innovative computer hardware, PC and Mac peripherals, and other gadgets that may interest our readers. I also scoured the rest of the trade show for the best booth babes handing out swag and watching other fun, promotional events to get expo visitors to engage with companies to find out more about their products.
See our video coverage of the SXSW Trade Show!
My first stop in the very minimal PC hardware section of the trade show was Dell who had their entire line of ultrabooks and notebooks as well as a couple Alienware gaming notebooks to give show visitors a taste of how these platforms handle general PC tasks like web browsing and word processing as well as high-definition gaming.
The star of the show for Dell is their latest XPS 13 Ultrabook that is constructed from aluminum and carbon fiber and includes Corning's Gorilla glass over the 13.3" WLED display. Consumers can upgrade the solid state drive up to 256 GBs as well as configure it to use an Intel i5-2467M running at 1.6 GHz or an i7-2637M running at 1.7GHz. Every configuration option includes 4GBs of DDR3-1333 memory and the entire system weighs in at almost three pounds. Entry-level pricing for the XPS 13 Ultrabooks starts at $999 and goes up to $1,499 when consumers add an i7 processor, 256 GB SSD, 4G mobile hotspot functionality, and their expanded protection plan.
Dell also showcased a couple of their all-in-one computers like the Inspiron One 2320. This particular model starts at $899 and includes an Intel Core i5-2400S running at 2.5GHz, 6GBs of DDR3-1333 memory, 1TB SATA 3GB/s hard drive, and an NVIDIA GT 525M graphics card. This 23" LED, multi-touch display running at 1920x1080 resolution and has a 1 MP HD web cam that supports 1280x720 video.
Alienware, who was purchased by Dell in March 2006, had several of their M14X gaming laptops on display during the trade show. These notebooks start at a hefty $1,099 on Dell's website, but this model was bundled with an entry-level Intel Core i5-2430M processor running at 2.4GHz, 4GBs of DDR3-1333, and an NVIDIA GT 555M. The 14" WLED display can be upgraded from 1366x768 to 1600x900 and consumers can move from a 1TB, 5,400 RPM SATA hard drive to a 256GB solid state drive if they have the extra cash to drop on it. This gaming system also comes standard with a 2 MP HD web cam, dual digital microphones, and an8-cell lithium ion battery.
Seagate Technology Booth
Seagate Technology was also on hand to showcase their line of GoFlex mobile storage solutions. In fact, they were not very humble in showing off their International CES Innovations award they won for their 500GB GoFlex Satellite Wireless Storage Drive. This 500GB, SATA 3GB/s hard drive wirelessly connects to home and office networks via 802.11 B, G, or N up to 150 feet. It also have about five hours of battery life and Seagate claims it can stream up to three high-definition (720p) movies to three different devices at the same time without any lag. The device can also be connected to a PC or Mac via USB 3.0 and costs $199 at most retailers.
Seagate also had a unique set of GoFlex Free Agent 1TB SATA external storage drives running in RAID 0 and connected together using a pair of GoFlex Thunderbolt adapters. The external hard drives alone are available in USB 2.0 or 3.0 configurations and up to 4TB in storage space for backing up primary hard drives. They also come with automatic backup software that is encrypted for increased data security. The 1TB versions cost $129.99, and the 4TB/USB 3.0 version can be purchased for $249.99.
The GoFlex Thunderbolt adapter gives enthusiasts up to 10GB/s in transfer speeds, which is 20 times faster than USB 2.0. This setup using Thunderbolt technology in RAID 0 pictured above boosted write speeds to around 340 MB/s and read speeds to around 354 MB/s (in Black Magic Design's Disk Speed Test on an iMac). The Thunderbolt hard drive adapter (without Thunderbolt cable) is available on Seagate's website for $99.