CES Showstoppers Page 3

showstoppers-Apr05-4.jpg Pod People If you're awakening from a three-year coma, you might be puzzled by the profusion of little white pod-things with their spiffy white earbuds. They're Apple iPods, and these hard-disk and flash-memory music players are way hotter than Cabbage Patch Dolls ever were. So it's not surprising that the aisles at CES were glutted with cool iPod paraphernalia. • One of the most venerable names in hi-fi has gone hip with the Klipsch iFi (shown - $399, spring), a minisystem with two Reference Series RSX-3 satellite speakers, a powered subwoofer, a remote control, and an iPod docking station. Take a good look, because the iFi is the future of home audio. • The Sonance iPort ($598) is an in-wall cradle for an iPod that can send audio and images (if you have an iPod photo) to your home theater system. (There's also a rack-mountable version.) Why didn't we think of that? • Altec Lansing's iM3 inMotion playback system ($100) also caught our eyes and ears. Simply connect your iPod (or other MP3 player) to this little beauty and its amplifiers and speakers do the rest (it runs on either battery or AC power). • Can an iPod "accessory" cost ten times more than an iPod? SpeakerCraft's naviPod and MZC-66 multiroom controller ($2,450) lets you jack your iPod into your home system, access its playlists, and control it from up to six rooms. • Even Kensington (the mouse people) now has iPod accessories, like an FM transmitter/charger ($60) and cool iPod cases ($20) made of a stretchy silicone material. - Ken C. Pohlmann

showstoppers-Apr05-5.jpgAiming at Apple With iPod's share of the market for hard-drive music portables hovering around an eye-popping 90%, CES found competitors old and new taking aim at Apple. Creative Technology (known for its Nomad Jukebox and Zen brands) and RCA (for its Lyra series) - two companies associated with MP3 players well before the iPod arrived - as well as Toshiba all showed players designed to enlarge their share of what has become an almost all-Apple pie. • The Creative and RCA players have small-capacity hard drives (like those in the iPod mini) with color screens for showing photographs (like the iPod photo). Creative's Zen Micro Photo ($299 for 5 gigabytes, or GB, $349 for 6 GB) features a 1 1/2 -inch OLED (organic-LED) screen and will be available this spring. The 6-GB model holds up to 7,500 JPEG images or 3,000 songs. RCA's 5-GB RD2765 Lyra Micro Jukebox ($269) will be available this spring. • And Toshiba, which supplied the drive in Apple's original iPod, is now appealing directly to music lovers with its 40-GB gigabeat F40 music player/photo viewer (shown - $449, spring). - Michael Antonoff

showstoppers-Apr05-6.jpg Surround Sound Cam Leave it to Sony to be the first company to figure out a way to get a multichannel audio soundtrack onto a recordable DVD. Its DCR-DVD403 DVD camcorder ($1,000 spring) has a microphone for picking up and recording 5.1-channel Dolby Digital audio. Not even Sony's HDR-FX1 high-definition camcorder ($3,700), which also debuted at CES, can do this. Why is it a useful feature? Aside from opportunities like amusement-park rides, just think about a birthday party with multitudes of screaming kids. Recording such acoustic mayhem in surround helps you sort out sounds spread around the room (the famous "cocktail party effect"), with startlingly clear and lifelike results. - David Ranada