CES Showstoppers Page 2

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showstoppers-Apr05-1.jpg Wires No More Not long ago, the idea of sending high-quality digital audio around your house without wires would have seemed a pipe dream. But the Philips Streamium WACS700 Wireless Music Center ($1,000, spring) does just that. Its sleek audio hub includes a drive for ripping your CDs to MP3 files stored on the 40-gigabyte (GB) hard drive, which can hold the equivalent of 750 music CDs. The hub uses a fast 802.11g Wi-Fi connection to stream music to up to five satellite stations ($300 each). Both the music station and the two-way remote control have an LCD for artist and track information from the built-in Gracenote CDDB database. The Music Follows Me feature allows your tunes to move with you seamlessly as you go from room to room, while Music Broadcast keeps the system in sync when you play the same song in every room. Connecting the WACS700 to a networked PC lets you back up the music system's hard drive and access tunes stored on the computer. - John Sciacca

showstoppers-Apr05-2.jpg Super-Smart Remotes The backbone of any good system is a great remote control. And manufacturers are rising to the challenge of the "connected home" by creating models able to take on more and more responsibilities. • Universal Electronics offers total control for your digital home with its new NevoSL (shown - $799). Running on Microsoft Windows CE, the stylish remote features a 3 1/2 -inch color screen that displays song titles and thumbnail images from devices on your network. The optional Nevo Link ($299, spring) acts as a bridge so you can use the NevoSL to control nearly any device in your house. • Philips is no stranger to the world of remotes, and it appears to have hit another home run with its RC9800i ($499). Using Wi-Fi and Universal Plug and Play technology, it can get information from networked devices, easily pulling in pictures or streaming music. The large color touchscreen is perfect for viewing a slideshow, and a built-in speaker actually lets you use the remote to play your MP3 files. The battery-charging cradle has a stereo minijack output so you can stream music files from the remote to your audio system. - J.S.

showstoppers-Apr05-3.jpg Next-Generation HDTVS There were a number of 1080p (progressive-scan) HDTVs at CES 2005 packing full 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution - enough to show every last droplet of detail in high-def programs. Plasma, LCD, LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon), DLP (Digital Light Processing) - just about the whole high-tech alphabet was part of the 1080p wave. • LG proudly displayed its 71-inch MW-71PY10 HDTV (shown), the largest plasma set available. It sells for $75,000 (ouch!). • Stepping down a mere inch in size, JVC 's 70-inch HD-70FH96 rear-projection TV (RPTV) uses a trio of 1080p-resolution D-ILA (Digital Direct Drive Image Light Amplifier) chips - a technology similar to LCoS - to generate big, bright images. The set is scheduled to hit stores this fall at a price to be determined. • DLP-based RPTVs were also in an expansive mode at CES. At 67 inches, Samsung's HLP6768 HDTV ($6,999) will be the biggest DLP set available when it arrives in June. • There were also LCD TVs in all sizes. Grabbing eyeballs in the Panasonic booth was the PT-61LCX85 ($5,000, September), a 1080p-resolution RPTV with the ability to record MPEG-4 video to SD memory cards. • Sharp's 65-inch Aquos set took the prize for the largest flat-panel LCD. No price or availability was announced, but its existence proves that flat-panel LCD can compete with plasma in the size wars. • Finally, Sony gave plasma buffs reason to pause with its Qualia 005 flat-panel LCD ($12,000, spring). This 46-inch HDTV's rich blacks and refined colors were stunning. - Al Griffin

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