Here we go again!  It’s hard to believe, but hot on the heels of the just-past holiday season we’re here at CES time again.  CES is the largest consumer electronics show in the US and it’s always a fantastic experience.

At this year’s show, larger than many in the recent past, here are some of the goodies I know you’ll enjoy knowing about:

Thin is in!  After all, it’s after the holidays when many of us think about THAT.

SRS Labs

Have a look at these new THIN speakers from SRS Labs.  You know SRS, don’t you?  They are among the leading audio technology companies making sound, well, sound better.  From their first SRS sound processor introduced in 1989 when the company was part of Hughes Aircraft, I have been a fan of their technology.  As a matter of fact, I still have their original processor, the AK-100!

Today, you’ll find their unique sound processing technology in a variety of products.  Learn more about it HERE.

SRS Labs is showing their new line of proprietary flat panel (read:  THIN) speakers.  However, they do not include any of their legendary sound processing.  The new speakers DO include their own design and incredible sound.  They are NOT ribbon speakers.  They do NOT need to be placed away from the wall.  In fact, about six inches away from the wall is just about perfect. They do away with the customary sweet spot inherent in many speaker designs. As SRS says in their advertising, they are all about “captivating your senses without invading your space.”  How do they do that?

The base of these three-inch thin speakers is quite small. They occupy vertical space without overtaking the floor.  I really like them, having had the opportunity to sample a pair of the Klayman Signature speakers.  I was told they have been favorably compared to speakers selling for as much as $3,000 a pair.  The SRS Klayman Signature speakers sell for a retail of just $599 each.

HP

The new iPAQ Pocket PC h1910 is the THINNEST and lightest Pocket PC on the market and enables users to carry the essentials (such as calendars and address books), music and more in their pocket.

The iPAQ Pocket PC h1910 features a spectacular transflective liquid crystal display, which offers the rich color saturation and high contrast of a backlit TFT display and gives users the ability to view the screen even in bright sunlight. The iPAQ Pocket PC h1910 also comes with a removable slim battery (900 mAh), synchronization cable, and a secure digital (SD) expansion slot for the easy transfer and storage of music, photos, etc. It also includes 64 MB of RAM and is powered by Microsoft® Windows® for Pocket PC 2002 and the 200 MHz Intel® X-Scale PXA250 applications processor.

Great looking display, removable slim battery, powerful, expandable.  Simple.  $299. An iPAQ cradle can be purchased for $49.00 for easy synchronization and charging. See MORE.

Harnessing technology for the masses . . .

PHILIPS

In the next wave of DVD recorders, I found a trio of new consumer products from Philips.  Leading the way with an expected March availability is the $699 DVDR75 which features progressive scan for razor sharp pictures and top quality sound.  Including VCRPlus® for easy timer programming and up to six hours of video recording per side, the DVDR75 provides consumers a more affordable DVD Recording option.  It really IS looking like an end is in sight for the VCR!

Stepping up to the $799 DVDR80 and expected in April, consumers will find a disc manager which allows instant viewing of all recorded discs.  Combined with eight hours of recording time and the index picture screen and favorite scene selection, it’s just click and go.  The DVDR80 utilizes a motion-compensated noise filter to reduce noise in recordings from analog broadcasts and other sources such as old videotapes. The DVDR80 also features Progressive Scan with a sophisticated Motion Adaptive System (DCDi™ by Faroudja) that corrects visual artifacts and optimizes the video image, resulting in razor-sharp picture performance.

Something to look forward to in the fall, the $1,299 Philips LX9000R is said to be the first home theater system to offer consumers a full home theater solution featuring DVD Recording. Combining DVD Recording with a high-end audio package, the LX9000R is an all-in-one solution.

The new system features a high performance DVD+RW Recorder capable of six hours of recording per disc from a wide range of video sources, including the integrated TV tuner.  The i.LINK Digital Video connection allows users to connect their camcorders to make perfect copies from their camcorder tapes to a DVD+RW or DVD+R.

The LX9000R features “twin subs” which have the subwoofer integrated into the speaker stands to provide a powerful yet a discrete sound solution. The LX9000R has a minimalist aluminum front finish featuring a disc tray concealed behind the moving display. To ensure optimal sound clarity, the LX9000R features Philips’ Clear Voice™ technology that clearly recreates dialogue so it can be heard above the exciting action sounds in dramatic movie scenes. Additionally, the system includes a Cinema Center Speaker, allowing users to be enveloped in a realistic sound experience, produced by the unique configuration of five multi-directional speaker drivers.

Find more information about what’s new from Philips HERE.

So, it’s lower cost, improved performance and ease of use.  Sounds familiar.  What, oh what will I see from Pioneer and Panasonic, among the others!

New power for PC gamers . . .

NVIDIA

The latest and greatest in graphics and video processing for the PC is the NVIDIA GeForce FX, which will make 3D applications scream.  PC gaming is going to be bigger than ever in 2003, and NVIDIA is leading the charge with this new processor which will be able to be purchased soon from graphics card suppliers and installed inside today’s high-performance PCs.  It is an important advancement because it brings to game developers realism never before available so they can make better games for a more satisfying experience for consumers. Pricing is expected to be in the $300 – $400 range and deliver by partners is expected as soon as February.  It’s all about the games, and now, they will be better than ever!  More information is HERE.

With automotive safety and general convenience in mind . . .

Hands-free mobile phone use is fast becoming a necessity, both philosophically and legally in an increasing number of states.  One of the products (among many more that will be shown at CES) that caught Mr. Gadget’s watchful eye is from UNWIRED TECHNOLOGY.  An interesting design in both the UC-500 ($99) and the new UC-600 ($119), they are mounted on the car’s headrest.  This hands-free design features a boom microphone and separate built-in amplified speaker so there is no headset at all (and that many users find uncomfortable).  There is also built-in noise cancellation circuitry to filter out background sounds.  More UNWIRED news and information is HERE.

Another hands-free mobile phone product I have singled out is the new $150 high-tech, high-style headset called theBoom from a company called UmeVoice.  UmeVoice uses their proprietary design field-tested and a hit on none other than the floor of the New York Stock Exchange where it successfully filters out the cacophony of intense background noise.  Traders can ill afford to make a mistake on a big buy or sell order.  Now, consumers can get theBoom.  It’s all in the design – there is NO electronic noise suppression or cancellation technology – and yet theBoom enables whisper-quiet conversations regardless of background noise.

I’ll also want to take a look at what Jabra and Plantronics have to offer in this product space.

What else?  In no particular order . . .

Of course, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Hitachi, Pioneer, Thomson/RCA, Toshiba, Zenith, Sharp, Kenwood, and all the usual players, some of which are not “officially” at the show but will have off-site presence.  If interested, check their Websites for show announcements.

Ibiquity will be showing their next generation, 21st century radio solution.  It’s the future of radio!  No more static, better sound, it’s digital broadcast AM and FM, with other benefits, too. http://www.ibiquity.com/

IVL Technologies: On-Key Karaoke Player that can change and correct for really bad singing in REAL TIME.  A new model just for little kids, too. http://www.ivl.com

The new RoadWired products appear worthy of a look. http://www.roadwired.com/

Oregon Scientific, providers of some great electronic goodies ‘n gadgets will be there with what’s new.  I like their line of ExactSet clock products and many others. http://www.oregonscientific.com/

What will be new from camera makers including Kodak, Canon, Olympus, Epson, HP and others?

I wonder what new printing and scanning products I’ll find from Canon, Epson, HP, Lexmark, Brother, and others.

Samsung will show products in many consumer categories.  Video and audio, office products, personal technology, kitchen and household products and much more.  This is a company to watch for the fact that they are working hard to be world leaders in every area possible.

I will want to see what is new from Dolby and competitor DTS.

I won’t want to miss the news from favorite TiVo.  You really SHOULD have TiVo at home ASAP.  You’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Ditto, I want to be in on any news from another favorite, DirecTv. Since the merger with rival Dish Network has been called off, this should be an interesting year for them.  I would not trade my DirecTv for anything else.  Cable stinks and I dislike their industry for the misleading anti-satellite ads they run.

I’ll want to see what is new from the company whose Harmony Remote I found last year to be THE best remote to take the place of all other remotes.  Really.  Visit them at www.HarmonyRemote.com.

Adobe told me they will show something for the digital camera user, the “most fun must-have for the digital camera user…Even the most intimidated one.”  It’s their $50 Photoshop Album which they say is the product for PC users that gives what we Mac users have had and love so much in Apple’s iPhoto product, only they promise it is even more powerful!

I am sure there will be news from broadband connectivity suppliers such as D-Link, Linksys, and others, showing next-generation wireless home networking technologies, including the anticipated 802.11g products.  Higher speed, longer distance, compatible with the original 802.11b.

We all know Avery Dennison for its labels, but at CES, they will show their new photo paper for inkjet printers, taking on Kodak, Epson and HP.  I will be testing it soon, comparing it to my favorite (and recommended) inkjet paper from Konica.  Available in popular sizes, each sheet of this new Avery paper will actually be a full 8 1/2 x 11, but with either three 4 x 6, two 5 x 7 or nine wallet size spaces.  Each printed photo can be snapped out of the whole sheet with clean edges so consumers get more value and the photos look as if printed individually or at least professionally cut.  Said to be easy to accomplish, each package of Avery Digital Photo Paper will include a free copy of Microsoft Picture It! software with Avery photo paper templates built right in.  That’s different.  I like the idea.  I have seen samples and it works!

Sprint is promising announcements, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the area of mobile phones.  I’ll also want to check into Nokia.

I want to get by the Royal Consumer Products booth to check out a new (and affordable) shredder that destroys CD-ROMs and credit cards! Notice I wrote destroys and not “shreds.”  Still, this would be a valuable added feature in this era of guarding against identity theft and general smart practices.

I want to check out MobileWise and SplashPower, two of the companies showing a wire-free way to charge our portable electronic devices just by placing them on a special pad.  No more power adapters!!

I love the idea of home control, so it was natural that I would have found interest in the following announcement:  “ArialPhone Corp., a provider of wireless communications devices and voice-enabling software applications, today introduced a new version of its popular wearable communications device that allows consumers to control various home entertainment and home automation functions with simple voice commands.  Now available, the new ArialPhone features a wireless Earset offering advanced voice control capabilities and support for the X10 standard for home automation.”

Have you always wanted an illuminated keyboard?  It’s at the show.  The $100 EluminX looks pretty interesting.  It’s from Auravision.

More fun gadgets will be at the Excalibur Electronics booth.

Wireless TV demonstrations are promised by Magis Networks.  I’ll have a look!

Add to these an even larger number of lesser-known companies and it is easy to see why it is virtually impossible to see it all, despite my best efforts year after year.  But this fact does not stop me from trying to see as much as possible, walking the floor, aisle by aisle.

You may check in yourself for breaking news from the show HERE.

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