High-tech gizmos, funny mascots and lots of promo girls – this is what Chiang Mai’s Software and Multimedia expo was about, The event was held last weekend, and I went there with my camera ready.
I wasn’t disappointed; there was plenty to see and try. The latest gadets in mobiles, laptops, stereo systems, flight simulators, video equipment, movies and games were on display, accompanied by an assortment of cute promo girls posing in the strangest of dresses. And what’s more, I met and talked with the producer of Tom Yum Goong! That story deserves a blog in itself – let me tell you about the show first.
The big players of course had to be there: Microsoft and Sony showcased their products in amazing, pavilion-sized displays, complete with plasma TVs and surround speakers.
HP teamed up with Chi Chang, a local IT company, and had a sizable booth right near the main entrance. It was unique in a sense that it conveyed the feeling of a living room, while everyone else went for the standard hi-tech look.
A number of international phone companies were also present; their booths lined the left side of the entryway. The rest of the exhibition consisted of smaller local companies, some of which had really interesting products to show. One even had a lanna-style display!
Onto the Goodies
The main attractions, of course, were the gadets themselves. The hardware was okay, the usual assortment of PDAs, phones etc. I especially liked Sony’s latest HiFi, the AZ series. It looks really cool and sleek with the silver/black panels and crimson touch-sensitive buttons.
You can connect laptops, PCs and thumbdrives directly via USB slots on the front and rear. The vertical, PS2-like diskdrive recognizes just about all known laser disk media; DVD/VCD/CD/CD-R/DVD-R/+R/-RW/+RW/+RDL, to just name a few formats. Sony also developed a new sound system called Digial Cinema Sound, a virtual multi-dimensional sound system. I suppose it was about time, since Bose introduced its version years ago. I couldn’t test this one out, because there was no proper soundroom and the expo was too noisy, so I can’t compare it to Bose’s technology. However, if it lives up to the hype, it could mean good news: that hi-end sound technology finally came down to everyday consumer level. The system also comes with features considered standard at this level: Dolby ProLogic II, composite/component video out, etc.
Other things to see at Sony’s pavilion were digital cameras, camcorders and the Vaio laptops. They were interesting too, I just can’t review everything. Check our photoalbum for full-sized pics on those.
So.. what did Microsoft feature this time? Can you guess? Turn to the next page to find out! Also inside is a feeble government initiative, as well as a new interesting program locally made by Chiang Mai folks!
So what did Bill Gates & Co feature this time? A new edition of Windows? Some corny MSN add-on? No, neither. They featured – comic books. No, I’m not kidding! The bald mascot guy you saw on the previous page is “Pangpound”, the new action-hero of Microsoft. Check out the pic here, which is the cover page of the comic book. Apparently, they figured that to reach the Thai audience, they gotta go to the most popular format. Even adults here read comic books, so there you go. This little guy is supposed to teach Thai folks how to protect their computers using only the best software, which happens to be made exclusively by Microsoft, of course… 🙂 I can’t complain though; their promo girls were really friendly! The four of them posed with me for a shot. 😀
But back to some real tech news: AutoDesk, maker of AutoCAD and a host of other advanced PC design tools, had a booth there, featuring a really cool digital movie-editing program. You can’t run it on a standard PC though, it needs lots of special equipment. But you can drool, like the rest of us mortals. 🙂
Another interesting feature was a flight simulator. The funny thing is, it was not supposed to be the featured product of that booth! The main point was supposed to be a GPS system that everyday users could install to their cars and have it tracked. To show how it works, it was implemented in Microsoft’s popular Flight Simulator. However, the Farang guy in charge didn’t talk much about the practical uses of the product; he was too busy playing! Lol. After looking at the pic, who can blame him though?
The rising oil prices must have driven the Thai government to take desperate measures. Like Microsoft, they too invented their own set of action heroes. These heroes and heroines are the champions of energy saving. “Sohol”, “Diesy”, “Ener“, “Enie” and their alternative friends “Solar”, “Rotor”, “Aqua” and “Trashy” are all out to save our precious Planet Earth. I dunno.. I just call’em Gas Dudes.
Last but not least, there is a Chiang Mai team producing an animated movie titled Chiang Mai Rascals. Did you see the funny-looking dog mascot with the two girls on the very first pic? Bad Dog is one of the animated characters in the movie, and my favorite mascot on the expo.
I’d go on and on, but Thailand needs to save on energy, and Gas Dude would be angry to see such a waste… so I cut it short here, and let him say bye:
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