Whew, CES turned out to be more exciting than I had thought. When we flew in on Sunday evening, traffic was light, there was no chaos anywhere, no lines to get a CES badgeholder and no lines at the hotel. It just seemed anti-big-consumer-show. But come Mon, the show floor opens and people start pouring in, pushing and shoving to find their way through. Here is a rundown.
1. Stats: 140,000 people are expected to attend 2007 CES. 20,000 products are being announced (read again, 20,000 products). The exhibit space is larger than ever, some 1.7 million square foot. In my memory, for the first time, there are three venues that stretch from the Sands to the Convention Center. According to Scoble, it took him 20 minutes to just go across from one end to the other in one of the venues.
2. What's the theme? So far, whatever I have visited (and I have covered 1/3rd of the event), it's all about convergence! Integrated devices, convergence of content on your device of choice whether they are coming off a cable, satellite dish, over-the-air, stored content from your computers into the living room or from the Internet to your living room.
Here are a few products that caught my attention. I have organized them into interesting categories. I will update them whenever I get breathing time. Remember some of these are still concept products and might not make to the retail floors for up to a year but you will get an idea. Let me start with display products:

  • HP announced a smartcenter line of products (think media center but next gen). One plasma HDTV I saw had wireless integrated into the bezel. All flavors, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n. So now you could watch your regular TV while pulling content off of your PCs and from the Internet without worrying about external boxes and all the connection switching they require.
  • Netgear announced an interetsing media server product that would hook up to your television in the living room, pulling any and all content from your PCs and from the Internet. Now, this is nothing new, many such products have been in the market for last two years. Different about this product was its ability to stream content from the Internet to your TV (think youtube and itunes). I haven't seen anyone else do this yet.
  • 1080p display devices is all the rage here at CES. Paansonic, Pioneer, LG and Samsung all displayed a number of products supporting 1080p. New marketing term for this is "FullHD" :-).
  • Samsung and LG had some interesting DLP sets that used LED instead of a lamp. Marketing claims (and there is some truth to this) are very high contrast ratio (up to 100,000:1) so you can enjoy your television in all kinds of lighting conditions, instant on/off and the best beenfit of not having to replace the lamp anymore. You will see a number of other technical mumbo jumbo in the marketing literature that I won't bother you with :-).
  • LG demonstrated a concept 3D HDTV. You don't need any goggles but you see 3D images flying right in front of your naked eyes. Your head start spinning after a few minutes and there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome. But this was cool.
  • Big-screen LCD TVs was another rage. LG showed off a 100" LCD HDTV, Samsung a 102" LCD HDTV and Sharp a 108" LCD HDTV. Black levels and response time are still a problem with these sets but manufacturers are pushing the limits on the size.

Now to a disaster in the display section. I was very impressed with all the innovation that LG showed off until I hit a snag on their 100" LCD HDTV (which they boldly claimed as the world's first 100" LCD HDTV). It was two screens stitched together. In a noisy, fast moving image environment, it is easy to miss. But a close attenton shows a vertical line right in the center. Here is a picture I took from my point-and-shoot canon SD600 that clearly exacerbates this problem.
LG 100
I will be back with more news through the week. Stay tuned!

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