CES — In My Own Room!

What a difference a year makes. I walked into the same hotel and a room that seemed identical to the one I stayed during the last CES. Then, I began noticing differences: a wall-mounted widescreen TV, a clock radio with an iPod dock, and a sign on the now tube-free bureau proclaiming wireless high-speed Internet access. Had I died and gone to heaven on the Vegas Strip?

I discovered that the Philips FlatTV receives 12 high-def channels from Cox Cable. (It was a plasma, ironic considering that Philips is now narrowing its focus to LCDs.) Taking into account that hotels in this town typically limit guests’ in-room viewing choices to crappy channels in order to get them into the casino, finding as many high-def channels here as I get at home is remarkable.

If that wasn’t enough, the black and silver iHome radio opposite the TV sported slots for an Apple nano or a shuffle, and there was a line in. Instructions for guests were printed atop the radio. To use your iPod, you turned a knob so you could fit your music player into the slot, then back so the radio would grab the player in a vertical hug. I attached my iPod Touch to the “nano” slot. But when I pressed the iPod button on the radio, silence prevailed. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the radio was unplugged — the time on the face was made possible by battery backup. Once plugged in, I filled the room with my favorite tunes unencumbered by earbuds. At CES iHome will be joined by dozens of manufacturers introducing tabletop radios or boomboxes that can dock to an iPod. It’s a feature as important today as playing a CD once was.

Of course, no matter how many channels the hotel could provide or how many tunes I could ever hope to load into my Touch, the number of selections would always pale by comparison to the millions of entertainment choices available anytime on the Internet. My notebook easily found the hotel’s connection. I opened the browser and agreed to the terms: “A charge of $12.99 for 24 hours will be billed to your room.” Hey, it was the same price as one pay-per-view movie.

As a tech head, I’m happy to report that my hotel surprised me with its triple play. Now, if I only can get the bathroom door to stay ajar without being forced to place a trash can and a towel in its path.
Michael Antonoff

UPDATE: Spoke to soon. On Monday evening, the hotel lost internet service for a couple of hours. The extreme broadband-demands of the guests blew out the system.