Consumer Electronics Show Kicks Off in Las Vegas

Microsoft’s Bill Gates gave the keynote address on the theme of seamless computing. According to Gates, seamless computing will bring all devices together in one connected world. He went on to say that software and broadband technology are the building blocks needed to make seamless computing a reality. As an example, Gates described the ability of a variety of entertainment devices such as audio players, DVD players, and digital imaging technology interconnecting throughout the home via the MSN Media Center.

According to CES, Gates then introduced Windows Media Vision HD, a new technology that allows trade show photo booths and content available on your PC to be transmitted into high-definition. Gates then gave a demonstration of a new Portable Media Center that allows consumers to transfer their movies, music, photos, and other content from a PC to a portable device the size of a wallet.

What’s Hot?
Competition is heating up between makers of digital home entertainment networks and systems to manage and store huge libraries of digital music and movies. Among the heavyweights showing off their high tech magic were Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), Dell, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard. Among the hot new products was HomeGenie, a home networking system from Shell. HomeGenie controls lighting, appliances and thermostats remotely, using the consumer’s PDA, cell phone, or computer. The system even has a motion sensor attached to a Web cam that, when tripped, sends an e-mail or instant messages to homeowners.
Although it won’t be in the stores until fall, digital music aficionados will want to be the first on their block with a Gibson Wurlitzer Digital Jukebox. The Jukebox creates digital music libraries without having to rip and burn music files on their PC. It will also create a playlist from any CD using a touch-screen remote control. Plans are also in the works to create an online music subscription service. This cool looking machine can hold 1,000 CDs, and will sell for about $1,800.
Another hot product group at CES is the new breed of digital cameras. Priced competitively, many models will feature optical zooms, pre-set shooting modes, and 3 and 4-megapixel resolution. Among the new products are: Nikon’s Coolpix 2200 and 3200 (shipping in March to replace the 2100 and 3100). Both cameras are thinner and lighter than previous models, use SD memory instead of CompactFlash, two alkaline batteries, and feature a new, panorama mode. With 14.5MB of internal memory, new users can shoot up a storm. The new models also have a nifty blur detection setting—if you shooting a blurry picture, the camera will give you the option of deleting instead of saving it. The 2200 features 2-megapixel resolution and a 3x optical zoom lens, and will sell for a suggested retail price of $199.95. The 3-megapixel 3200 (with VGA capture and sound will go for $299.95. Casio’s new entry is the R51, which replaces the QV-R40. The new camera features 5-megapixel resolution, a 3x optical zoom, 2-inch TFT LCD screen and 10MB of internal memory. The R51 has an SD card expansion slot, one-minute movie mode (no sound), and a 21-best shot mode. Suggested retail is $399.
Kodak introduced two new models, the EasyShare LS743 (4-megapixels) and LS753 (4-megapixels). Both cameras weigh in at about the size of a cell phone, have a 3x optical zoom, and are compatible with the Kodak printer dock 6000. The LS743 (with 16MB of onboard memory) will be shipped in March, the LS753 (32MB of internal memory) in May. Kodak has yet to release pricing.

Be watching for a round-up of CES 2004.

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