Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Technology

State of the art

What's on tap at the Consumer Electronics Show

January 5, 2007

A new year often prompts reflections on things to come and opportunities to start anew. That's what tens of thousands of technology industry observers and professionals from around the world face as they pack Las Vegas from Jan. 8 to Jan. 11 for a look at the state-of-the-art in consumer electronics.

Deano Aliotta (left) and John Day install a sign at the entrance of Las Vegas Convention Center for the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

An estimated 150,000 people will weave their way through exhibition halls packed with some 2,700 vendors showing off their wares at the annual Consumer Electronics Show for a chance to get a glimpse of the future and map out where the industry is headed.

The videocassette recorder, compact disc player, high-definition TV, and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox are among some of the notable technology products that have had their debut at the CES and this 40th anniversary instalment is expected to similarly feature some firsts.

DVD format war

LG Electronics Inc. has already generated some industry buzz with the announcement on Jan. 4 that it will unveil a DVD player capable of playing back high-definition discs in the rival Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats.

The BlueRay Disc booth is set up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The show takes place in Las Vegas from Jan. 8 to Jan. 11. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. has attacked the DVD duel from the opposite direction. The company will introduce a Total Hi-Def (THD) disc that is capable of storing both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formatted video on a single DVD.

The company hopes other studios will use the technology to offer content in both formats — rather than aligning with either the Blu-ray or HD-DVD camps as they are now — with the aim of eliminating consumer uncertainty.

If either or both approaches win consumer approval after their expected launch in the United States in 2007, they could usher in an era in which both standards can thrive as demand for high-definition video rises along with sales of television sets designed to display the enhanced images.

High-definition TV

Flat panel high-definition TVs are expected to be prominent at CES, especially as smaller companies that make liquid crystal display sets ride the wave of popularity that the devices are enjoying.

Workers install a flat-panel television at the Samsung booth for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 3. About 150,000 attendees are expected at this year's CES. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

LCD TVs took the top spot for consumer electronics spending in the United States for the first time in 2006, raking in $925 million US, according to market research firm NPD Group. Digital cameras, the former No. 1 product, accounted for $825 million in sales after leading for the previous two years.

Notably absent from the show will be televisions featuring Toshiba Corp.'s latest high-definition television technology, which they say offers better picture quality than LCD or plasma. The company began working on surface conduction electron emitter display (SED) TVs with Canon Inc. in 1999, missed a 2005 launch and did so again in 2007.

The heart of the problem appears to be linked to a lawsuit in which a unit of Nano-Proprietary Inc. of Austin, Texas, licensed technology to Canon.

Connecting everything

Companies such as Microsoft, Sony Corp. and smaller players are among those focusing on converging entertainment and communications in the home and beyond.

Microsoft will showcase a version of its Windows Vista operating system that can integrate TV, photos, audio, video and its Xbox 360 game console with a personal computer as the hub. Yahoo Inc. appears to agree with the strategy after it expanded its Go set of software and services that mimic Microsoft's and connect to cellphones.

Sling Media Inc. will be showing their latest line of "place-shifting" Slingbox hardware that lets owners stream home video and audio signals to computers, personal digital assistants or even cellphones — to anywhere in the world where there is a broadband internet connection.

A worker adds magnetic banners to the facade of the Las Vegas Convention Center for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 3. With 2,700 exhibitors, it's the largest technology trade show in the world. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Sony has a similar product with its LocationFree TV, and the devices have spawned a new category that includes upstart rivals such as Monsoon Multimedia Inc.'s Hava, which bills itself as "Slingbox on steroids."

Music and media on the go remains a popular theme this year, with most personal entertainment device makers now including video playback as a feature as they chip away at the market dominated by Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod.

The gorilla of the sector won't be at CES but will instead be featured at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco on Jan. 8-9.

A slew of iPod accessory makers will be at CES, however, offering everything from rapid chargers to wireless headsets and remote controls.

For example, Belkin International Inc. will display its already available fabric remote control for the iPod that sports buffs can strap on during a run or on the outside of a snowboarding jacket and wirelessly control the iPod tucked safely in a pocket.

Cellphones and more

Bluetooth-connected gadgets will also figure into many accessories for the home and mobile phones as companies like Logitech Inc. use the wireless standard in devices such as its media remote control and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications marks its fifth anniversary with a wristwatch control for cellphones.

Mobile phone makers will all be offering beefed up multimedia features on slimmed down phones as the devices blur together digital music players, cameras, messaging devices and even TV.

There may be some overlap with wireless Voice over Internet Protocol phones that use Wi-Fi internet connections as their communications conduit.

Netgear Inc. and Belkin already offer stand-alone Wi-Fi mobile phones for Skype — VoIP software that lets people talk over the internet — that frees users of needing a computer to make their calls and similar devices will likely appear at CES.

Taking it a step further, WorldGate Services Inc. is to launch a mobile version of its Jetsons-like Ojo VoIP video phone at the show.

Speakers include Gates, Dell, Zander

Keynote speeches include industry titans such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell, Motorola Inc. chairman Ed Zander as well as show business heads like Walt Disney Corp. CEO Robert Iger and CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves.

Gates is expected to tout Windows Vista in light of the scheduled launch of three consumer versions on Jan. 30 and may offer a new glimpse of Halo 3, the highly anticipated third instalment in the popular science fiction action video game series.

Dell is slated to discuss trends in consumer electronics and showcase new products but details are scarce. His company, best known for its computers, sells a broad range of consumer electronics that spans everything from Dell-branded flat screen televisions to the Slingbox to personal audio players.

Motorola's Zander will discuss growth opportunities in the wireless industry and is likely to highlight the company's forthcoming Rizr cellphone based on the runaway hit Razr but sporting a slide-open design.

Disney's Iger and Moonves of CBS are both expected to talk about ways in which traditional media companies can adapt and capitalize on the changing way in which people consume their media.

Jackie Chan, Cal Ripken, Ludacris among celebrities

Since no hype-worthy media event is complete without celebrities, CES has a de rigueur lineup of attention-getters in case the real stars of the show — the gadgets — fail to create the sought-after buzz.

A long list of actors, athletes, musicians and models are among those slated to attend, including appearances and autograph sessions by action star Jackie Chan and Tom Arnold, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr., NFL hall of famer Jim Kelly and IRL racer Danica Patrick; performances by musicians Ludacris, 3 Doors Down, the Black Crowes' Chris and Rich Robinson, and Cheap Trick; signings with Maxim magazine models Joanna and Marta Krupa and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders; and comedians Tom Green and Jim Breuer.

And just to remind people about the biggest stars at the show, CES even counts Honda Inc.'s ASIMO walking robot as a celebrity appearance that is not to be missed.

What emerges as the highlight of the show remains to be seen but no one can dispute that like the technology it features, the size and scope of the show has evolved since its first event in New York City in June 1967 that saw 110 exhibitors in a 150,000 square-foot hall and 17,500 attendees.

It's come a long way — but the pace of technology suggests there remains a long way to go before CES comes to the end of its road.

Go to the Top

Menu

Main page

Technology

Green machines
Disk drive: Companies struggle with surge in demand for storage
Open season: Will court decision spur Linux adoption?
Analogue TV
Video games: Holiday season
Video games: Going pro
Guitar Hero
Parents' guide to cheap software
Working online
Laptop computers for students
Technology offers charities new ways to attract donations
The invisible middleman of the game industry
Data mining
Two against one
The days of the single-core desktop chip are numbered
Home offices
Cyber crime: Identity crisis in cyberspace
Yellow Pages - paper or web?
Robotics features
iPhone FAQ
Business follows youth to new online world
A question of authority
Our increasing reliance on Wikipedia changes the pursuit of knowledge
Photo printers
Rare earths
Widgets and gadgets
Surround Sound
Microsoft's Shadowrun game
Dell's move to embrace retail
The Facebook generation: Changing the meaning of privacy
Digital cameras
Are cellphones and the internet rewiring our brains?
Intel's new chips
Apple faces security threat with iPhone
Industrial revolution
Web developers set to stake claim on computer desktop with new tools
Digital photography
Traditional film is still in the picture
HD Video
Affordable new cameras take high-definition mainstream
GPS: Where are we?
Quantum computing
What it is, how it works and the promise it holds
Playing the digital-video game
Microsoft's forthcoming Xbox 360 Elite console points to entertainment push
Online crime
Botnets: The end of the web as we know it?
Is Canada losing fight against online thieves?
Malware evolution
Money now the driving force behind internet threats: experts
Adopting Ubuntu
Linux switch can be painless, free
Sci-fi projections
Systems create images on glass, in thin air
Power play
Young people shaping cellphone landscape
Digital cameras
Cellphone number portability
Barriers to change
Desktop to internet
Future of online software unclear: experts
Complaining about complaints systems
Canadian schools
Multimedia meets multi-literacy age
Console showdown
Comparing Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 networks
Social connections
Online networking: What's your niche?
Virtual family dinners
Crackdown
Xbox 360 console game
Vista and digital rights
Child safety
Perils and progress in fight against online child abuse
Biometric ID
Moving to a Mac
Supply & demand
Why Canada misses out on big gadget launches
Windows Vista
Computers designed for digital lifestyle
Windows Vista
What's in the new consumer versions
Cutting the cord
Powering up without wires
GPS and privacy
Digital deluge
RFID
Consumer Electronics Show
Working online
Web Boom 2.0 (Part II)
GPS surveillance
Hits and misses: Best and worst consumer technologies of 2006
Mars Rovers
Voice over IP
Web Boom 2.0
Technology gift pitfalls to avoid
Classroom Ethics
Rise of the cybercheat
Private Eyes
Are videophones turning us into Big Brother?
Windows Vista
Cyber Security
Video games: Canadian connections to the console war
Satellite radio
Portable media
Video games
Plasma and LCD
Video screens get bigger, better, cheaper
Video games:
New hardware heats up console battle
High-tech kitchens
Microsoft-Novell deal
Lumalive textiles
Music to go
Alternate reality
Women and gadgets
High-tech realtors
The itv promise
Student laptops
Family ties
End of Windows 98
Bumptop
Browser wars
Exploding laptop
The pirate bay
Stupid mac tricks
Keeping the net neutral
PS3 and WII at E3
Sex on the net
Calendars, online and on paper
Google, ipod and more
Viral video
Unlocking the USB key
Free your ipod
In search of
Xbox
Sony and the rootkit
Internet summit
Electronic surveillance
[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Canada »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Politics »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Health »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Technology & Science »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Money »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Consumer Life »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive] 302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »