It may sound glamourous to you, having the opportunity to come to CES, see all the latest new CE toys, and write about it for you. Yes, it can be fun and the best part for me is interacting with friends and colleagues I don't get to see year round. Days start early and usually end very late. However, this year I did't need an alarm clock to get me up in the morning, no matter how tired I might have been the night before. We are staying at the Hyatt Place, a wonderfully remodeled hotel, a bit off the beaten path, which is quiet and tranquil compared to the large themed hotels with casinos. But there is always a catch. It is right in front of McCarren airport and each and every plane flies directly over us. Fortunately, McCarren has a curfew from midnight to 6am. So there is a small window of opportunity for uninterrupted sleep but you can set your clock by that first flight of the morning.
Last year, Wadia Digital introduced the 170 ITransport, a high-resolution audiophile iPod dock for playback on high-end A/V systems. A new companion piece is the 151 Digital Amp, which creates a miniature 2-channel system for listening to not only your iPod but other stereo sources as well. The 151 has 2 coax and one optical input, along with a USB port (for flash drives). The high-end DACs (which is what WADIA is well known for) coupled with the build-in 50 watt amp, creates a compelling high-end system that doesn't cost a lot (by audiophile standards) or take up much space. The iTransport sells for $379. The price for the 151 Digital Amp was not disclosed but would definitely be under $1K.
I'm sure it's happened to you. You're at a party and you want to show everyone the latest viral video on YouTube and everyone is huddling around your iPhone but still not everyone can see it at once so you have to show it like four times. Not anymore, 3M's MPro 100 pocket projector saves the day. While it comes with composite and VGA inputs, you can get adapters to use it with various devices. The size maxes out at about 50-inches but that's pretty good for portable, plus it only sells for a mere $359.
Press Day once was a couple of major press events the afternoon before CES officially opened. A few years later it is wall to wall activity from 8am to 11pm. This year, after all the major announcements from the big companies ended, a show within a show began at the Mirage–called the Digital Experience, Decked out in a 50's theme with girls in ponytails, dressed in candy stripped dresses and sailing around on roller skates, manufacturer's displayed some of their key technologies, that were primarily about sharing the digital experience, i.e. networking and file sharing. By the way, the car grill at this bar is a real ice sculpture. A great place to stop for a cool drink before venturing into the Show Within A Show.
One of the interesting oddities about CES, is the the Adult Video industry shares the Sands Convention Center with us for their annual awards show. So we come across some unusual posters from time to time, in addition to some of the industries top celebrities. However, I don't think I even want to know what this is.
Its been awhile since I had heard from Moxi, whose DVR didn't get nearly as much recognition as TiVo. Making a stronger, more earnest effort to make a name for themeselves in that category, Moxi introduced a HD DVR here at CES. They made it clear this is a high quality solution for digital cable subscribers. Satellite users need not apply, The unit is far more than a straightforward DVR, as it serves as the hub for all your media with a 500GB hard drive. If that's not enough it can be upgraded to maximum of 2TB. Of course, it can also share content from your home (wired) network and interface with an iTunes library. It also provides access to web-based services such as Flickr for photo sharing and Finetune, a music streaming service. Instead of charging a monthly fee for their service, you pay a one time fee of $799 for the basic model. If I rememeber correctly, that was TiVo's original business model and they realized they made more money charging a monthly fee. So we'll see how succcessful this is for Moxi.
Tivo is in beta on an entirely new menu. You can do all the things you could do before but there are several additional features such as streaming content from Netflix and Amazon or search through the vast YouTube library. You can even order pizza from your local Domino's. The new beta version of the graphic user interface is available as a simple firmware upgrade to consumers with TiVo Series 3, Tivo HD, and HD XL components.
IOGEAR’s Wireless USB Audio / Video Kit creates a wire-free solution for streaming audio and video content to an in-room TV up to 30 feet away. The product consists of three adapters: audio for speaker connectivity, VGA for a TV or monitor and Wireless USB for the hosting PC. It provides HD streaming at resolutions up to 720p and supports stereo sound. It is compatible with
Windows XP 32-bit (Service Pack 2) or Vista (32-/64-bit) operating systems and will be available in March 2009 at an MSRP of $349.95.
As always, Sony has a major presence here at CES. A representative told me that this years exhibit is the largest in the history of CES, and they started working on the display before Christmas. The space is almost double from last year, because the game show Jeopardy has set up their set as part of the Sony booth to shoot a week's worth of show's for its 25th Anniversary.
High Resolution Technologies (HRT) shiowed the simolist solution I've encountered fr getting music from your computer into your soundroom. The small device, that fits in the palm of your hand has a USB input and analog audio outputs. Come ot of the putputs directly in your preamp or receiver. There are two models, one is $89.95 and the slightly larger one is $250. The main difference is the more expensive device uses a higher-end DAC with better signal-to-noise, lower noise floor and improved frequency response. It does mean integrating your computer into your hifi, but for those purists who are skeptical of WiFi and what it might be doing to the signal, it doesn't get more direct than this.