By far one of the biggest challenges for most people installing a home theater system is wiring the speakers - especially the surrounds because they're typically placed quite a ways from the rest. Wireless connections are an obvious solution, and at this year's CES, several manufacturers offered systems taking advantage of 2.4-GHz wireless technology to feed the surrounds.
Audio gear - designed for high-fidelity reproduction of recorded music - once ruled the Consumer Electronics Show, but now audio is for the most part only a handmaiden to video. However, for those who place sound first, some impressive components begged a hearing.
If the current trend continues, companies will offer music implants at next year's CES. This year merely tiny had to suffice. Ever-smaller flash-memory chips enable some amazing compressed-music playback devices that make the hard-disk-based Apple iPod Mini look elephantine.
Maybe the economy is really taking off. Or maybe it's simply that the cancellation of the big fall compute show, COMDEX, has sent all the computer types scurrying off to CES, but this year the show seems incredibly crowded. The isles were blocked, the press room didn't have a seat to spare (in contrast to the press room at CEDIA, where you could play catch most afternoons without bothering anyone), and the traffic and parking made LA—at least on a slow day—look like Barstow.
Hordes of reporters - including S&V's Rich Warren (tan coat to left of center) - await announcements from electronics giant Thomson (RCA) the morning of CES's media-only first day.The American Chopper guys help Toshiba close their press conference
Along with a deluge of bigger, flatter HDTVs of various technological stripes, a hot TV news item at CES 2005 was the arrival of digital cable-ready TVs with slots for a CableCARD. This credit-card-size device was designed to eliminate set-top cable decoders - those ugly black boxes that have squatted, like parasites, on or below our TVs for the past two decades.
A format war over a high-definition disc format now unfortunately appears inevitable. The all-but-formal declaration came at the Blu-ray press event on the first day of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (also see Rich Warren's article, "Next-Generation DVD").