Despite rain and even a rare snowfall, attendees came by the thousands to the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show held Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas, NV. CES is one of the premier trade shows for finding the latest and greatest in home technology gadgets from TVs and DVDs to smart watches and car audio. Over 114,000 attendees from 115 countries made their way to the Nevada desert for this year’s show.
CES is more than just a trade show â€“ it’s a platform from which thousands of vendors and manufacturers launch their products for the new year, and they do plenty to get your attention. For example, Olympus hosted 80’s rockers Cheap Trick on a stage on their booth for a 30-minute concert (and yes, they can still rock). Over in the Innovations Pavilion, You could challenge world champion gamer Johnathan â€œFatal1ty” Wendel in a head-to-head competition for a chance to win $5,000. Or see a live performance by Weird Al Yankovic at the XM Satellite Radio Live Stage. You could even get yourself a picture featuring you sitting on a chopper built by Orange County Choppers. All of these events, as well as giveaways, poster signings and other attractions are designed to get attendees to exhibitors’ booths, and they do a good job.
But we were there to find the new stuff, the products and technologies that were innovative, exciting, or just plain cool. And there were plenty. We’ve listed some of our favorites below, but this by no means is a complete list. You’ll see many of these items hitting the streets in the coming weeks and months.
Taking Video On The Road â€“ We’ve seen in-car video displays before, and many auto manufacturers now offer entertainment packages as an option in their SUVs and minivans. But a new trend takes in-car video to the next level. Manufacturers such as Winegard and KVH are now offering easy ways to add satellite TV to your vehicle. In the past, this required a rather large dome to be mounted on the roof of your vehicle. Good luck on getting that in your garage. But new antennas from these manufacturers are less than 6″ deep, and mount to existing roof racks. And a new kit from KVH, the TracVision A5, includes the antenna, DirecTV receiver and 12V power supply, you provide the displays. If you already have DirecTV service, the monthly cost is only $4.99 for the additional receiver. Retail price for the system is $2295. www.kvh.com
XM2Go â€“ Speaking of satellite reception, XM Satellite Radio was helping push new portable satellite receivers manufactured by Pioneer, Delphi and Tao. These new gadgets are small and feature complete XM reception capability in a handheld unit. They feature the ability to record up to 5 hours of programming, so you can listen even when you’re out of satellite range, a rechargeable battery, and a built-in wireless FM transmitter so you can use it in the car or at home with ease. Prices are in the $400-$500 range. www.xmradio.com
Tame Those Cables â€“ Some products are complicated, others are simple. The Cableyoyo fits into the latter category. This easy to use, ultra-thin cable management device consists of a small, square cord holder. Just insert one end of the cable into the Cableyoyo’s slot, and wind up your cable. Integrated clips hold the cable. The nice thing about these is that they are easily stackable, and come with a specially designed hub that lets you attach the Cableyoyo to the back of a PC or monitor, and easily remove it for repair of equipment or to move your gear. Retail price is $4.95 each. www.cableyoyo.com
Movies On Your Head â€“ The Eyetop DVD is a wearable DVD player and display system, that features a display system built into light blue glasses that look like sunglasses. This differs from other â€œvideo glasses” systems ion that the display is on one side only, theoretically allowing you to walk while watching a movie. More realistically, you could sit in your airplane seat and watch a movie, while still staying aware of what’s going on around you. The system comes with the glasses, DVD player, and a carrying case for the whole system. Retail price: $599, www.eyetop.net
Gaming On Your Head â€“ Along similar lines, eMagin Corporation plans to release a new set of gaming goggles that takes gaming to a new level. The goggles are designed to work with software that has 3D capability, giving you a view of the game that adds depth to every move. In addition, the goggles feature head-tracking technology that allow you to look up, down, left or right, just by turning your head. The goggles use OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays, and are powered from a standard USB port. They also feature hi-fidelity ear buds and a noise canceling microphone built-in, for the full gaming experience. The Z800 3D visor is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2005. Price to be announced. www.3dvisor.com
For The True Tech Junkie â€“ How about an in-dash PC? Icon Enterprises, a manufacturer of DVD players and displays for the custom auto market plans to release an in-dash PC with 7″ screen, AM/FM radio, and motorized monitor. The system will feature a 1.2GHz processor, 256MB of RAM, 40GB HDD, DVD-ROM, USB and more. It comes with a mini-keyboard and a wireless pointing device, and even features GPS capability with pre-loaded software. But don’t crack out your wallet just yet â€“ the system is scheduled to ship in April 2005 with a retail price of $5999.99. www.icon-tv.net
Not Windows Media Center â€“ In a bid to rival Microsoft’s Windows Media Center, Interact-TV debuted the TeraTelly Home Entertainment Server. Featuring 1.2 Terabytes of storage, this device can hold up to 250 full-length DVDs, and still have room for thousands of CDs and digital photos. The TeraTelly connects directly to your TV, and comes with a wireless trackball remote that lets you control the system from the comfort of your couch. This Linux-based system not only lets you watch DVDs on your TV, but you can share the media with other networked Telly devices, media adapters and PCs, and can be managed via any web browser. Price for this power? $1999. www.interact-tv.com
The Mood Ring For The Internet â€“ Ambient Devices has created a set of gadgets that lets you monitor items such as the weather, stocks, or other subjects of interest in a new and novel way. You log onto the Ambient Devices website and set-up the item you want to monitor, like your favorite stock. Then, just plug in the Orb, and it receives wireless signals about your stock, turning shades of green if the stock is up, and red if the stock is down. All this is done without a connection to your computer. The signals are sent by a network of FM transmitters, and updated periodically. If you want something a little more analog, take the same idea but display the changes using analog needles instead of colored light, like watching a VU meter on stereo equipment. With the Executive Dashboard, you can monitor up to 3 items simultaneously. The meters indicate changes and the scales for each meter can be easily interchanged to see multiple items. The device is smart enough to know which scale you have inserted, and displays the appropriate information for each scale. Available at he MoMA Store and Brookstone, these items are $149 each. www.ambientdevices.com
Keeping An Eye On Things â€“ We’ve seen videophones before, but frankly, they’ve left something to be desired. Some had good quality audio, but choppy video. Others had better video, at the expense of audio quality. But the Ojo (Spanish for â€œeye”) from Motorola may be hitting on all cylinders. Designed to work over a high-speed Internet connection, this videophone features a frame rate of 30fps (the same as a TV), without sacrificing video quality. It uses MPEG-4 coding to deliver clear images while keeping audio synchronized, and a nicely sized 7″ color screen that works as both a display for your call as well as providing an onscreen menu for control purposes. Don’t want to make a video call? Use the integrated handset to make VoIP calls (Voice over IP) or standard phone calls. Retail for this cool gadget? $799. www.motorola.com/ojo
HDHD: High Definition Hard Drive â€“ Toshiba’s new Symbio High Definition Hard Drive Recorder takes recording video to a whole new level. You’ll find TiVo like functions along with high definition recording features. So when you order that hi-def football game, you’ll be able to record it and play it back in hi-def as well. In addition, it uses an IEEE1394 port to communicate with Toshiba TVs with integrated HD, giving you seamless onscreen control. Retail: 499.99, www.tacp.toshiba.com
How Big Ya Want It? â€“ OK, things might be getting a little out of hand. In the race to show the biggest plasma display, Samsung has developed a 102″ diagonal PDP. In case you’re not as quick with math, that’s 8 Â½ feet corner to corner. The prototype shown is immense, but don’t run out to buy one just yet. It will likely not be available until sometime next year. Meahwhile, you’ll be able to buy their 80″ plasma that debuted last year sometime around this summer. Price tag should be in the $35,000-$40,000 range. Of course, you might need to completely rebuild your wall to hold itâ€¦www.samsung.com
Taking Control â€“ Control4 has tossed its hat into the ring in the race to be â€œthe next big thing” when it come to home automation. This group, founded by the guys who brought us PHAST and the STSN line of networking products for the hospitality industry have taken their experience and are stepping into home automation with their new product line. These products, including light switches and dimmers, home theater controllers, touchscreen controls and much more, use standard IP-based communications, making them easy to integrate into the standard home network. Featuring both wired and wireless versions of their products, Control4’s product line stands to be one of the leaders in the next wave of home automation products. Pricing still to be announced. www.control4.com
Info To Go â€“ Pioneer’s New AVIC-D1 System has just about anything you’d need in a nav system for your car, including an interface to XM Radio’s XM Traffic System. This allows the system to display traffic information right on the nav screen in real time, and even suggest alternate routes to get around the traffic. A DVD-Rom is used for the nav system, while a separate CD player lets you listen to music from your favorite discs. It’s also compatible with Pioneer’s iPod adapter for full control of the iPod. There’s even a vehicle dynamics package that allows you to monitor, onscreen, items like acceleration, lateral G-force, angular velocity and more. Price tag for this summer release product is still to be announced. www.pioneerelectronics.com
Taking Control, Part 2 â€“ Smarthome’s soon to be released Insteon product line is now in beta testing, and it is stepping up to be another option for affordable home automation technology. Designed as a hybrid of wireless and powerline communications technology, these products are geared to give homeowners and easy way to add home automation without breaking the bank. The first products to be released include plug-in lamp and appliance modules, RF transceiver, dimmer switches, and wall-mounted keypads, with prices starting at $19.99. Look for a release in the 2nd quarter of 2005. www.smarthome.com and www.insteon.net.
Cut The Cords â€“ The Sonos Digital Music System features a wireless, full-color LCD screen on its handheld controller that gives you full access to your entire music collection from anywhere in the home. The system is comprised of two pieces, the controller mentioned above, and the ZonePlayer, a sleek networked audio player that delivers 50W per channel. Each controller can access multiple ZonePlayers, allowing you full control of audio throughout the home. Add controllers and ZonerPlayers as needed to complete a custom system for your home. A base system of 1 controller and 2 ZonePlayers is $1199, while additional controllers are $399 and additional ZonePlayers are $499. www.sonos.com
Play James Bond At The Beach â€“ If you’ve ever watched a â€œ007″ flick and thought it would be fun to scoot around underwater with those devices that pull you around, then this item is for you! The Sea-Doo Seascooter from Daka Designs makes that wish a reality. These beauties will scoot you along through your choice of dive locations, and can run up to 2 hours for plenty of fun. And at 2-3 MPH of travel speed, you’ll be scooting along effortlessly. www.daka-designs.com
Shake It Up Baby â€“ Also from Daka Designs is the Shake Light Series of flashlights. With these, you need not worry about spent batteries. Just a quick 30-second shake of the flashlight will give you enough power to light the LED flashlight for up to 5 minutes. Higher-end versions also feature a built-in AC plug, so you charge it in between uses, and still have the option of the shake feature if you need it. www.daka-designs.com