2008 CES & ICCE

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CES Pre-Show Highlights (Jan 5) - Scroll Down to See Everything
  Sentry Group FireSafe and Data Storage ChestDid you remember to back up your files?  Did it turn out to be useless because you had a fire in the house or you had a flood?  Sentry Group has an answer - the FireSafe product holds 80 GB or 160 GB in a fireproof, water proof unit ($259/$339).  Or, if you wish, buy the larger Data Storage Chest and install your own hard drive, plus hold DVDs, etc. ($169)CES
SE2 Labs rear panelSE2 Labs showed their $25,000 ITC One - a product that has everything you need for your home theater, including X-Box (but not display and speakers).  It is aimed at CEDIA installers, not regular consumers.  Each unit is built to order.  The 2nd photo shows the rear panel.  One would normally stall this box in a rack in a closet that is out of site.Wow Wee RovioWow Wee company, which last year brought us the singing Elvis head, showed their Rovio   Think of this as your personal Mars Rover that you control and see images from on your PC.  IR beam in docking station shines on ceiling so Rovio can find it and recharge the batteries.  $299, available October 2008.
Megellan showed their Elite 5340 GPS unit.  It communicates via GPRS so that you can use Google Search to find things.  Small traffic light icon center-bottom shows where a traffic light camera is.  Megellan maintains a database of speed traps, etc.Megellan Elite 5340Watching that big game with friends and someone asks for another cold beer?  Don't worry, you don't need to get up from your couch.  Just grab the remote control for your RC Cooler from Interactive Toy Concepts and drive to your your friend.  Just $49.99, available Spring 2008.Interactive Toy Concepts RC Cooler
Moxi STBMoxi has been involved in providing high-end Set Top Box software for a number of years.  Now they are branching out to provide two types of STB products that will be available in retail stores.  The one shown works with cable and includes a CableCARD slot (one-way).  The small unit on top is an extender that receives content from the main STB so you can view it in the next room.  No price yet, available sometime in 2008.Logitech DiNovo MiniLogitech showed a few new remote controls.  One controlled music that would stream from your PC to your stereo (Squeezebox Duet, $399, February 2008).  The unit shown to the left is the DiNovo Mini.  It controls your Media Center PC.  The chiclet keyboard is more convenient than larger keyboards when you are sitting on the couch.  $149, March 2008.
e-Detail, a Korean company, showed a tablet PC with two displays.  As you can see in the photo, you can set it up so that the small display faces you while the larger display faces your client.  This way you can look at your client in the face and still see what the client sees.  About $1,200, March 2008.e-detail Face to FaceReal Networks was showing a "radio" from Haier that can play music from the Rhapsody service by connecting to it via WiFi.  One unit has a 30 GB drive in it to store the music when not connected.  You can also view video from AOL.  $299.Real Networks - Haier
CES Pre-Show Highlights (Jan 6)

The day before CES officially starts for the public is filled with press events held by most of the major CE companies.  A few trends popped out.  One is that TV mfrs are moving to the second tier issues.  Last year was all about 1080p and 120 Hz LCD.  The year before it was about 1080i.  But, this year it was about stylish designs and colors, Internet content direct to the TV, and really thin panels.  Almost all added an announcement about their "Green" policy.
This year also saw the continued proliferation of iPod docks in just about every shape and price point.  Apple has a huge presence in CES, even though they don't even have a booth and their competitors continue to push their own versions of media players.

 Toshiba HD-DVDToshiba planned a press event around HD DVD to show off new products like the slim player, shown left.  But, the big news just before CES started was the decision by Warner Bros to go exclusively with Blu-ray.  This left their marketing manager Jodi (right) with a "difficult day", in her words, as she continued to defend the HD-DVD format.Toshiba Marketing Mgr
Panasonic audienceIf you ever wondered what the CES press conferences looked like, take a look at the press audience for the Panasonic event.  Mind you, this was held on a Sunday morning.Panasonic 32 GB SDPanasonic's Kitajima shows off a 32 GB SD card that will be available in 2008.  The card will hold 5.5 hours of HDTV, which can be recorded on a compact camcorder.  The big news about the 150" TV was held back for tomorrow's keynote.
Sony showed their Rolly, a robotic MP3 player that spun around to the music it played.  Two "ears" on either end would flip open and closed as it moved around.  Expect to see this show up at some well healed Hollywood parties.Sony RollyIn Digital Cinema, the term "4K" means a resolution that has four times the pixels as "2K", and 2K is roughly the same as today's best HDTVs.  Sony showed a "4K" 82 inch LCD television prototype.  It is not available for sale.  You can actually appreciate the fine details.Sony 4K
Sharp 65 LCD Sharp 65 sideSharp made the smart decision years ago to focus just on LCD.  This year they showed a prototype of a 65" LCD TV that is just 35mm thick.  You almost have to see it to appreciate how thin it is. 

"Thin" was a common theme for many other venders, too.
AlienwareAlienware was showing off a monitor aimed at gamers.  This monitor's resolution is 900 x 2880.  Latency between when it gets the signal to when you see it is 0.02 ms - important if you don't want to get shot.

Several major TV mfrs. also talked about their special low latency "Game Modes" for their 2008 models.
LG showed a line of products that pick up broadcast DTV, even if you are in a moving car.  The products shown are all picking up a local Las Vegas station.  LG worked with Harris on the broadcast technology, which will be going live towards the end of 2008.  The system is called MPH.LG MPHA couple of Netflix executives were at the LG press event because the two companies are working together to deliver movies to your home via downloads.  Netflix had a go at this a couple of years ago, but dropped it when distribution rights issues got in the way.  No LG products were shown, but expect more news later.LG Netflix
Philips SwarovskiThe woman to the left is wearing an Active Crystals 1 GB USB drive designed by Swarovski for Philips.  This was just one product to signal that Philips is trying to go upscale on style and appeal to women.Philips AureaAnother example of the new Philips is their Aurea line of TVs.  Rounded corners and use of white and transparent elements are intended to appeal to women buyers, as well as men.  Philips dropped the Ambilight name, but the TV shown here works in a similar way.
Samsung's Dr. Park showed how their new camcorder could display what it recorded on a TV by sending the video wirelessly (802.11n).  There was a little technical difficulty, as demos sometimes go, but it eventually worked fine.SamsungSamsung also showed their A-VSB TVs, some of which were first shown last year.  This is another way to get broadcast DTV to a mobile TV set.  Wondering about MPH vs. A-VSB?  Things get decided mid-2008 after some testing. Samsung VSB TV
CES - Day One (Jan 7) - click photos to enlarge
 Panasonic 150 inch plasmaPanasonic saved the announcement of their 150 inch plasma TV for their keynote. They call it their "Life Screen". Shown here is Geoff standing in front of one such TV.  Geoff is 6'3" tall.  This set is not likely to see the inside of a consumer's home any time soon.  First, it is a 4K resolution set, so getting content is difficult.  Second, it is still a prototype. 
Panasonic UWB demoPanasonic's President, Mr. Sakamoto, delivered one of the better keynotes at CES.  Here he is shown cutting some "cables" to dramatize the new WirelessHD link they have between a Set Top Box and the TV.  The system works at 60 GHz, a frequency previously used to guide missiles to their final destination.Panasonic portable stb dvrPanasonic also introduced a Set Top Box / Digital Video Recorder that can be detached from its docking station.  Your kids can then view the programs you recorded while traveling in the car.  Panasonic called it "AnyPlay", and it was introduced with Comcast.  Brian Roberts will be sharing more in tomorrow's keynote.
Pioneer talked about their Kuro program - an internal effort to improve their products.  One result is a plasma TV that addresses "Idling Luminance".  By eliminating this issue they were able to bring black levels down dramatically.Pioneer blackIf you look closely at the image on the plasma TV to the right, you might think you are seeing double.  It is the worlds first 3D plasma TV from Samsung.  You still need active shutter glasses to make it work, and the only real content is games.  You may not know it, but all Samsung DLP rear projection TVs have been "3D Ready" for about a year.Samsung 3D Plasma
Nikko R2D2Nikko takes the prize for clever use of the Star Wars theme with this R2-D2 Digital AV Projector.  For under $3,000 you get an XGA DLP projector, with speakers, iPod dock, CD player and FM wireless output.  Even the head turns.
A smaller version is a maneuverable roving webcam.
Jaba Toys Air RockerEver want to play the "air guitar" and actually hear a guitar as you do it?  This little belt buckle and pick will do the trick.  Wave the pick in front of the belt buckle as if you were playing your guitar and music comes out that is inspired from the Guitar Hero game. 
Jada Toys will be selling their Air Rocker for about $29.99.
Luxom makes a unique light source.  It uses a bulb with Halogen and other gasses as the source, but the bulb is not plugged in.  Instead, a powerful microwave frequency beam is directed at the bulb causing it to glow very brightly.  It produces a full spectrum similar to the sun.  Panasonic is using this bulb in some projection TVs.  The photo on the bottom shows you how this bulb can give that guy a sun tan.LuximLuximKrups has been selling this Beer Tender in Europe for about four years now.  Starting about March you, too, can buy your very own beer tap from William Sonoma stores.  It chills the beer, shows you the temperature, and monitors the level.  $400. Krups beertender
WiMAXShown to the left are three WiMAX receivers.  WiMAX is not yet fully deployed, but both Clearwire and Sprint are working on it, with the help of Intel.  Think of it as WiFi, only with a 2 mile range and 4 Mbs bandwidth.  It will be priced at broadband-type rates.Samsung 4KYesterday the Sony 4K LCD TV was shown.  The one to the left is Samsung's.  Note that Sony is getting their LCD panels from Samsung.
CES - Day Two (Jan 8) - click photos to enlarge
HP is taking another stab at the Media Center Extender with a compact unit that will sell this Spring for $300.  The picture shows the two front panels open (normally they are closed).  The white unit on the right is an optional hard disk drive module that you can remove or swap. However, normally one would not use the HDD, but stream content from the PC to the TV.HP Media Smart ReceiverThis picture is a good summary of one of the trends at this year's CES.  Virtually every CE mfr. is trying to move towards a fashionable and stylish product design.  Getting some big fashion names involved is often part of their approach, whether or not you agree with their design.Samsung Giorgio Armani
 Just couldn't help notice the stark contrast between two booths - the HD DVD booth is on the left and the Blu-ray booth is on the right.  Does this suggest how the CES attendees felt after the Warner Bros. announcement to exclusively support Blu-ray four days earlier? 
The two photos were taken within 10 minutes of each other  at about 2:30 pm.  Read the full analysis - click here
Blu-ray booth
ChargepodWild ChargeAny road warrior can appreciate the problem of charging their array of portable gadgets at the end of the day in a hotel room with only one AC outlet located behind the furniture.  So, here are a couple of solutions, among several, to the problem.  The one on the left is Callpod's ChargePod.  A kit with adapters goes for $99.95.  The one on the right is the WildCarge.  Each device has a special adapter attached to it (see Razr phone at bottom).  When you want to charge it, just place it on the pad in any direction.  A low voltage is picked up and converted to the proper voltage by the adapter.
These two products put a new twist on the "Personal Video Recorder".  The Vievu on the left record about 4 hours of VGA video as you walk around, or perhaps ski down that mountain.  It sells for about $499.95.
The helmet on the right is for all you Tony Hawk types that want to record your skateboard experiences without having to hold onto a camcorder.  This Gath helmet comes from Oregon Scientific.
VievuOregon Scientific Gath
The BugThe Bug
Any guess what the photos to the left are showing?  Would it help to know that the product is called "The Bug"?  Is it a camera, PDA, MP3 player, Video player, computer?
If you have trouble guessing, it is because it can be all or none of the above and more.  It is a modular development kit for people that want to quickly prototype their next dream gadget.  The Bug starts with a linux computer module ($299), to which you add other modules as needed, such as camera or display ($40 - $120). 
CES - Day Three (Jan 9)
Lots of companies have portable navigation devices today.  DASH Navigation takes it one further.  Each unit communicates via GPRS or WiFi.  They can send speed information to the server in the sky and get speed information from other units.  Thus, you get traffic conditions on minor roads, not just freeways (see green dots on roads).  It does lots more with its communications, too.  $599, plus $10/mo service. Dash NavigationMicrosoft has been pushing their Auto PC for years now.  The first CES demo that Bill Gates gave was an embarrassing moment as the voice didn't work.  Now, just before Gates retires, Microsoft has convinced Ford to put their Sync (new name for their Auto PC) in about 18 models.  It took Microsoft several generations to get it right, but looks like they now have traction.Microsoft Auto
Diesel AudioMeantime, if you look at the mobile electronics section of CES you can still see the traditional array of huge speakers, etc., for cars that go boom.  Here we have Diesel Audio, with their NS1600 subwoofer amplifiers (front chrome boxes) that give 1,600 Watts of output each.  Truck TVJust couldn't resist taking a photo of this television for your truck showcased by Treo Engineering. Finally we see why these trucks need to be jacked up to high.     
LG was showing some concept products.  The phone shown here has a 3D display.  You can watch 3D movies, play 3D games, feel the phone vibrate if your character gets shot in the game, etc.  The two photos show the same image from two different angles - hard to see, but the images are for left and right eye. LG 3d phone  LG 3d phoneAnother cute concept product is LG's watch phone.  This is a working phone - something that they said they put together to show that they can do it.  Interestingly, they did not allow anyone to take a photo of it, but they did allow us to take one. LG watch phone
Panasonic SD CamWhile Panasonic has had SD card based camcorders in the past, this is the first time that they have a serious HD camcorder that compares with their regular line of camcorders.  This product will be out mid-2008 and cost under $800.Invisible ShieldDo you have an iPhone with a bunch of scratches on it?  For this device and others, Invisible Shield might be for you.  Each kit is precut for specific devices.  The shield is supposed to be derived from military technology.
CES - Day Four (Jan 10)
This young startup, Rattlebox, has a deep library of interesting short videos.  Now you can take advantage of this library and send a video postcard (free) to someone.RattleboxExcept for funny swan song videos, Bill Gates showed very little new stuff.  There was the so-called "Home Server" and the Surface.  Touch screen table lets you perform a number of tasks, including make reservations to a show at your Hotel/Casino.  We will see first use of this in 2008.Microsoft Surface
Laser ToothbrushLaser Toothbrush:
License to Kill

OK, this product takes the prize.  It comes from Microtech.  It is a laser toothbrush.  What does the laser do?  Kills bacteria as you brush.  Not yet available, but they may sell it for $20 when it is.
Video WatchFirst runner up comes from Shenzhen Holide.  It is called an MP4 Watch.  You can watch videos on your watch.  A 2 GB version may sell for something over $100. Unfortunately, the battery only lasts 7 hours, or 3 hours if you watch videos.
Here is cute product.  It is the Nexpeaker.  The Sales actually are the speaker, while the subwoofer is the boat.  Comes from FILS Film Speaker and it will sell for about $28.NexpeakerGreen is in.  This is a reading lamp that uses LEDs instead of fluorescent or incandescent bulbs.  9 Watts of power is equivalent to about 75 Watts incandescent light.  Expect to see more of this in the future.  e-Light makes this one and it may sell for under $100.e-Light
ICCE (International Conf. on Consumer Electronics)
Here you get a sense for what engineers are working on for the next five years and
where the tough problems are for products found on store shelves today.
Many more papers were delivered than are shown here.  Go to www.icce.org to learn more.
Lenovo Frances O'SullivanLenovo's Frances O'Sullivan explains in her keynote the advantages and challenges of a 24 hour international operation.  Keys to success: Communications, Common Culture/Language, Robust infrastructure.  Example: they had trouble agreeing on a "common company theme" until they realized that the Chinese managers defined "common" as "ordinary and dull".iVDRiVDR is Information Versatile Disk for Removable storage.  Sanyo explained how to make such a removable hard disk drive secure.  It uses a system called SAFIA - Security Architecture for Intelligent Attachment device.  Seagate announced at CES that they would be supporting this system.
Table the right shows how long various types of optical disk storage lasts under stress conditions.  It is measured in days, not years!  Brigham Young is now working on a new optical disk that will ultimately last a 1,000 years.  Legacy drives will read it, but a new writing mechanism will be needed.Nist archival optical storageKorea's ETRI (Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute) explained a new scheme that will convert an audio file using one form of DRM into a file that matches a different DRM.  Unlike Coral, it is lighter weight and doesn't need central real-time coordination.  Several big names are involved.ETRI Audio trans-DRM
CES cleanupWhile ICCE is held, crews are busy cleaning up after CES.  There was still much to do a day and a half after CES ended.LVCC futureIf you waited in a shuttle bus for foot traffic to get out of the way, the LVCC will address this with a new layout.  Construction starts this Spring, probably just about when NAB is held (sigh).
The Ibuka award, sponsored by Sony (Ibuka was a Sony founder) is given to an outstanding engineer in consumer electronics each year.  This year Ralph Baer, the inventor of many electronic games like the Simon (still in production) received the award.Ralph BaerHitachi showed how they made the optical pickup unit (OPU) small enough to be used for a camcorder.  You will soon be able to buy a Blu-ray camcorder that uses 8 cm disks.BD OPU
BD HD DVDHitachi is also working on a dual format drive that works for both Blu-ray and HD DVD.  See our analysis of this format war in our reports area.Philips 3DPhilips talked about putting 3D movies on Blu-ray disks.  See earlier photo on Samsung's 3D plasma.  3D is a big topic for digital cinema, too (see our report on Digital Cinema).
National University of Ireland showed research into automatic blink detection aiming to be fast enough to use in cameras.  What was spooky was the suggestion that if the camera had a photo of the person not blinking, that it could insert these eyes into photos where the subject blinked.BlinkFotoNation is working with Nikon on the use of PTP/IP to make it easier to move photos from the camera to the TV.  PTP is Picture Transfer Protocol and it relies on mating devices together the way your Bluetooth headset mates to your phone.PTP/IP for photo to tv
Sanyo short throw projectorSanyo has created a special short throw projector (LP=XL50).  It can be just 50 cm from an 80" screen.  You can think of all kinds of ways to mount the projector to a wall, under a table, etc.  Chart to left compares optics approaches.  Sanyo is 4th option.Grant ImaharaGrant Imahara of MythBuster fame talks about everything from his involvement in Star Wars, Junk Yard Wars, being 3CPO, building the 2nd gen Energizer Bunny and working for last year's Ibuka award winner, Tomlinson Holman.  See 2007 photos.