CES: All quiet on the HP front

By Chad Sapieha, Special to CBCNews.ca

LAS VEGAS - Thanks to several exciting HP product launches last fall — including the monster HP Blackbird 002 gaming desktop and HP Home Media Server — there doesn't appear to be much in the way of heretofore unseen technologies on display at their 2008 CES booth. But during a pre-show booth tour this morning the most interesting thing that caught my eye was the MediaSmart Receiver, a box that that can be connected to any television in the home to transform it into a connected multimedia machine. It lets you draw music, photos, and video stored from PCs around the home.

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Since it employs the same software found in HP's own MediaSmart LCD sets, the receiver's default mode basically turns third-party televisions into machines akin to HP TVs. However, the MediaSmart Receiver can also be used as a Windows Media Center Extender for consumers who prefer Microsoft's home theatre application. It's slated to hit stores later this year.

HP also dedicated a large section of its CES pavilion to its Voodoo-branded gaming machines. And while the aforementioned Blackbirds were the focus in this area, the showstopper was a plexiglass case that contained a 24-karat-gold encased Voodoo Omen desktop.

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I inquired as to the cost of the golden Voodoo Omen, and was told — perhaps not surprisingly — that it was, for all intents and purposes, priceless.

(Chad Sapieha is a Toronto-based freelance writer)