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International CES 2003 Wrap-Up

With growing concern of the economy in today?s news, one look at the show and you would have guessed we were in the best of times. With some of the largest and most extravagance booth Designtechnica has ever seen, it was made very clear that exhibitors have faith in the economy and their new products. Notable industry announcements include the support of HDTV from the cable television industry as well as recognition for the connected home and the role home networking plays in our lives and the products we love.

There were some very obvious show trends with some not so obvious products and ideas tucked away in the depths of the Hilton convention center. The clear trends in this years show include DVD recorders, LCD displays, Plasma televisions and home media centers via a ?connected home?. New recorders were introduced from the likes of Philips, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba. Panasonic is still standing behind their DVD RAM format and is claiming the most home market share in the recordable DVD market due to early adopters and a fast market introduction of their products. Our growing concerns of compatibility formats were put to rest once we saw new recorders supporting the +RW format.

LCD Displays have grown in size and design since last year. Some of the best designs we saw were from Sony. With a see through glass frame, the new Sony 40?+ displays were outstanding to look at. Unfortunately no information was given out at the show regarding these displays at the show. Philips introduced the world?s first 52? LCD television. During Comdex Samsung laid claim to the worlds largest LCD display measured at 45?, so this shows how fast the LCD television market is growing. Other LCD television makers at the show included Zenith, Sharp, Toshiba and Samsung.

In the home PVR market, Tivo had some very exciting news to share with everyone. They will be partnering up with DirecTV to introduce new HDTV capable DVR recorders with an integrated satellite and ATSC tuners. In other Tivo announcements, they will be teaming up with Toshiba to introduce a new DVD-RAM/HDD combination recorder.

Following along with Toshiba, we learned that they will be introducing a new VCR/DVD combination unit, proving that the mighty VHS format is far from dead. With the new SD-V290 and 390 models you can play back a DVD while recording onto the VCR simultaneously. Samsung introduced the world?s first 1080i/720p DVD player with DVI output for HDTV sets. The DVD-HD931 is also Samsungs first product to support DVD-Audio and the only DVD player to have a DVI output. The DVD-HD931 will be priced around $349 and will be available in June of 2003.

Both Panasonic introduced new DVD recordable camcorders. Panasonics new VDR-M30 can record video and images onto 8cm DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs, while the Sony models are capable of recording both video and images as well, although in the DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. Both brands are hovering around the $1000 MSRP price.

In the television front, we saw for the first time support for HDTV set top boxes for HDTV broadcast through the major cable companies. In a partnership with Comcast, Panasonic is laying claim to the first HDTV digital cable ready television with a built in ATSC tuner. Pioneer announced they would be introducing an integrated set later this year once they get their much anticipated FCC approval. Most new plasma televisions introduced this year will include built in NTSC tuners, which have been lacking for the most part in earlier models. Toshiba has announced nationwide availability of their Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCOS) technology. Featured in their new 57? projection TV the 57HLX82 supposedly offers the highest resolution of any rear projection television.

Images from the show:

First off, Panasonic had a huge presence at CES. Their booth went from one end of the Central Hall to the other end. One the cool little gadgets they had is their SD A/V 30. The SD A/V 30 brings 4-in-1 technology to a device that fits in the palm of your hand. 4-in-1 technology means that this little guy does digital voice recording, digital still camera, digital audio player, and last but not least a digital video recorder. Some features include: record video to MPEG4 (15 fps), playback of MP3 and AAC files, and photos up to 2 megapixels. It uses the SD memory card to store data, and supports the newly announced 1GB SD. Also pictured is their ToughBook CF-R1, which is an extremely small and thin laptop that looks very cool with its magnesium alloy case. It has a shock mounted hard drive, weights a mere 2.2 pounds, and can run for 5 hours per battery charge. Some features: 10/100 Nic, USB 2, PIII-M 866, 10.4″ XGA Display and a 20GB drive.

You say you like PDA’s and pocket PCs? Not only were there tons of PDA’s all over the place, but there were accessories for them as well. Here are two prime examples: A full keyboard and a gamepad that attach to your PDA.

Sony introduced at their press conference a robot they dubed “Astro Boy” but is referred technically as the SDR (Sony Dream Robot). They had him dance to the live singing of Mary Mary, a group that is signed to Sony’s record label. People at the press conference definately got a kick out of it, and it just looks damn cool. This robot isn’t your ordinary robot though; He has face recoginition, and voice recognition. He can learn and memorize new words, short term and long term memory, emotion expression through speech and body language, and walk on all types of terrain.

One of the most exciting technology coming out of Sony’s press conference, and again not too much detail on this, is their announcement of Organic Displays. We asked for more information at Sony’s booth, and they told us to check their news site, but as of this writing there is still no information up about them. These displays were announced as “Still in development” and no ETA. The smaller display was a matter of cm thick and looked to be a 17″ display. The larger was about an inch thick and was in the 30″ range.

More things Sony: Like most other major home electronics manufacturer, Sony announced their own PVR named Cocoon. Branded as an intelligent TV experience, its based on Linux, supports broadband, has a hard disc, updates itself and can be upgraded easily through the network. They also announced Roomlink, which is an 802.11b device that can stream video and audio from your PC or stereo through Sony’s Wega TVs.

Philips showed off their new iPronto, which allows users to remotely control not only their home entertainment center, but their whole house! Control the lights and drapes along with checking for the times of the movie you want to go see. Philips also won 19 CES innovation awards this year, more then any other manufacturer, with Best Of going to Philips 44-inch LCOS TV, Philips psa128 max (A portable mp3 player designed for sports), Philips MX5900SA (A home entertainment system sporting a 5 DVD/SACD player), and the Philips TSi6400 (the iPronto). They also showed of their DesXcape 150DM smart display which is detachable 15″ monitor that communicates to your PC using the built in 802.11b wireless networking. The DesXcape will be priced around $1400.

The Olympia CDP Cordless phone has a built in V90 56K modem and bluetooth. This phone won a Innovation award this year. Supports up to 8 handsets and 4 different conversations. With prices ranging from $149 up to $199, it’s definately a phone lover’s ultimate phone.

This Toshiba 57HLx82 is a 57″ LCOS Widescreen TV that has three 1080 Progressive LCOS chips and an ultra fine pitch of 0.1mm.

The Yamaha DVD-S2300 has some pretty cool features: DVD-Audio and SACD Playback, Progressive Scan with Faroudja DCDi Processing, All Channel high quality DSD-DAC for SACD, 192kHz/24-bit audio DAC, 54 MHz/12-bit video DAC, and DTS and Dolby Digital decoders. The receiver listed here is the Yamaha RX-Z1. It’s size alone is enough to make you feel like a bully, but its features pack a powerful punch as well: 8ch Discrete Amplifier, Digital ToP-ART design, 130W x 6 + 45W x 2, DTS 96/24, DTS-ES Discrete, Dobly Digital EX, Dolby Prologic 2, 192kHz/24 bit Burr Brown DAC for all channels, digitally regulated volume control for all channels, 42 quad -field Cinema DSP programs, RS-232C interface for custom installation and upgrades, cinema equalizer and a RAV-2000 touch panel remote.

Here is one of the setups of a home theater system by Yamaha. This is the EF (Elliptical Form) Series Speaker System, which sports PMD Core Woofers

There were home theater setups all over the place, and this Samsung one is no exception. Crowds of peolple gathered around while moves like The Fast and the Furious played, with the sound turned up all the way.

There were some very impressive audio systems, and some of the most impressive were these models by Proceed, Mark Levinson, and Lexicon

CES wassn’t just about cool little personal gadgets, TVs, home theater, and cameras. There were a ton of products to bring the internet and computing into your kitchen. A prime example is this Samsung refrigerator, which has built-in internet, a tablet pc (its removed, but would reside on the right door) and other nifty functions. Not only did they have a cool fridge, but they had an awesome display of pc’s that spiraled up to the ceiling.

Leadtek showed off its latest NVidia solutions, including a Geforce FX card and NForce2 motherboards. Did you know that they also make a PVR?

Other notable mentions: D-Link has its 802.11g products coming out this month. They should be available by the time you read this at Frye’s and online, with price points of $139 for the router, $79 for the card bus, and $89 for the PCI adapter (coming out in Feb.)

All in all it was a great show with lots of interesting products and tons of people.

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