CES: The year vapourware gets some substance?

By Chad Sapieha, Special to CBCNews.ca

Last night's keynote speech by Bill Gates may have been underwhelming, but that doesn't mean there's a lack of interesting services and gear grabbing attention at the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

One of the most-gossiped about things amongst my fellow attendees as we went over Sunday’s many press conference announcements and shared pre-show rumours was Panasonic’s expected unveiling on Monday of a massive 150-inch plasma television (which would add the equivalent real estate of nearly five 50-inch plasma panels to the company’s current industry-leading 103-inch behemoth).

Most show-goers also seemed to share the consensus that CES will set the tone for 2008 to be a year of increasing connectivity. Companies will offer new and better ways for consumers to connect their devices, whether it’s wirelessly streaming multimedia content from PCs, home theatre components, and camcorders to televisions, or using mobile devices as miniature directories capable of connecting to satellites and the internet to do things like find a nearby movie theatre, see what’s playing, and buy a ticket - all in a matter of seconds.

Many of these ideas are not new, but they're things that are not exactly common at the moment. In fact, perhaps that will be the theme of this year’s show: You’ve seen all this before, but you’ll actually be able to use it in the next 12 months.

I suppose I’ll find out throughout the day Monday, when I visit Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Belkin and several other big-name booths to see what they have in store in 2008. I'll be blogging about it, so stay tuned.

(Chad Sapieha is a Toronto-based freelance writer)