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.
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.
The first public day of the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show reached new heights with announcements from Echostar's Dish Network and DirecTV. These satellite-TV providers plan to turn the sky over the equator into the equivalent of a freeway in rush hour.
The forces competing to win the prize of the next-generation DVD - the disc that will carry high-definition movies and other HD content - squared off with competing press conferences on the first day of the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show. As in exhibition sports, they played real ball, but the score counted little toward the championship.
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.
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").
Electronics superstores are terrific. If you're out shopping for an HDTV, they're likely to have at least a couple dozen models to choose from, where a specialty store might have half as many. And, of course, a small store can't begin to compete with a superstore's prices.