Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2005 Article Day 1

Julie’s comments are in Black, Judie’s are
in Blue and italicized

When most people are still trying to recover from holiday season festivities,
the first week of January is the time to take a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to
check out the Mecca for all gadgeteer’s:  the
Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This show
which began in 1967, is the show in which many new products were first debuted.
Products such as the VCR, CD, DVD and Plasma TV.

This is the show where retailers and other industry
insiders get their first look at the newest offerings by established consumer
electronics companies. It is also a place where smaller manufacturers can bring
prototype products to gauge interest or look for financial backing. Everybody is
there to see what the "next big thing" will be, to make their best deals and to
place their orders

This year the show played host to attendees from more than 110 countries who
could visit over 2,500 exhibits encompassing over 1.4 million square feet of
floor space. Can you say humongous?

Every year Julie and I leave for Vegas expecting CES
to be a large show, and we never leave disappointed. However, we were to soon
find out that it is possible for a show to be too big…


I really hate travel days, they just feel like an enormous time suck. This
trip was worse than most as I had to get up at about 3am in order to get out the
door by 4:30am for a 7am flight. The 1hr drive to the airport was not fun as it
was pouring cats and dogs.

I was fortunate that my flight wasn’t leaving until
11, but that meant I wouldn’t be in Las Vegas until almost four – Julie was
supposed to be in Vegas much earlier.

The actual flight took off on time, but 1hr before we were to land in Las
Vegas, the captain came on and said we had to land in Denver, Colorado due to visibility
problems in LV. So we land and it’s snowing like crazy in Denver. I think it
snowed an inch in the hour or so that we sitting there on the plane. After they
de-iced us, we were back in the air and finally landed in LV 3hrs late. I had
been all worried that I was going to be bored waiting for Judie because my
flight was supposed to get into LV at 8am. As it turned out, I didn’t get to the
hotel until after 1pm. Judie arrived around 5pm.

I would have been to the hotel much earlier,
but for the cab queue from hell! I kid you not, the line was snaked
around the sidewalk so many times that it was mind-boggling. Add to that the
fact that it was cold outside, and by the time I finally got into the cab – over
an hour after my flight had landed – I was a 5’10" popsicle! Little did I know
that that cab queue was a taste of much of our CES stay would be like – waiting
in line and shivering.

Our first CES event of the trip was the Digital Experience show at the
Bellagio hotel. We had missed this show last
, so we were both looking forward to attending it this time around.
These smaller shows outside of the main convention center are special events
that are typically just for the press/media people. In a way, they are actually
a lot more fun than the main show because they are not as crowded.

These shows are also much more directly targeted to
specific interests. When we signed up for CES we have to specify a list of items
that we were interested in. Since consumer electronics covers everything from
car stereos and speakers to microwave ovens that scan a food items bar code to
know its cook-time to the racks that hold the servers that host a website, it
helps that these shows narrow things down a bit.

The theme for Digital Experience was "Alien
Invasion," so we had to walk through a thematic arch with booth bunnies dressed
as aliens who were handing out Mardi Gras beads that included the spaceship
theme. Julie and I did not get any of the beads, nor did we carry a
blow-up alien doll, nor did we pick up a stuffed bean bag alien. But we did get
tons of other swag… ;0)

What Judie is not telling you is that the first words out of her mouth when
she saw the beads were "I want some of those!".

Woooo – Mardi Gras beads! ;0)

Actually, I wouldn’t have minded a green alien blow up doll for myself ;o)

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Once in the hall, there were tables set up all over
on which various vendors were showing their wares. One of the first tables we
came to was Toshiba’s. Amazingly enough, on display was a tiny 4GB hard drive.
The PR told us that as early as this year, PDAs might be sporting these drives,
but she would not give up any specifics! Well, we already know about the
and its built- in 4GB hard drive, but what I want to know is when
we will be seeing this type of built-in memory in our Palms and Pocket PCs?

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My guess is that we’ll finally see these little drives in our PDAs when
battery life gets way better.

We also got to see the new

iPAQ h2000 series
, which features a built-in flip-lid, ala the
HP Jornada 548,
circa 2000.

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It also features the biometric fingerprint scanner. I wonder if this one
works any better than the one on the old
5400 series iPAQs?
The size of the h2000 is nice, but I think I’ll stick with my
hx4700 for
the time being. Me too!

Targus had a
table featuring their new signature line of laptop bags, focused on the female

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Although bags like these are something I’d never personally be interested in,
I am thrilled that techno-savvy females can now garner accessories and even
devices that appeal to their sense of style.

Sanyo had a colorful table with their new
video-phone, the MM7400, on display. Hey – what do you know? I have Sprint
service in my town…but in all honesty I  prefer to take my digital videos
with my camera, not my phone. More on that, later!

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Imation’s table had their new scratch-proof CDs on
display, but what really caught Julie’s and my interest was their
Lifemix line of
cards. These are cards that are made specifically to hold a CD of burned images,
music, files, or whatever the sender desires. The cards are themed for occasions
like Holidays, Birthdays, New Baby, Anniversaries, Weddings, etc. I thought this
was a great idea.

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It is a very cool idea for the crafty person in your family. I know people
that have a tradition of creating CD photo albums and calendars for their
relatives, this product would make those gifts even more special.

We soon came to a table where a group of people were
handing out $2 bills and these red boxes. Even though Julie and I are quite used
to swag by now, it is not every day when someone hands us cash to stop and look
at their booth. It turns out that Shopzilla
is a new service in the vein of

. Inside the red box was a desk clock and a calculator – hey
that’s a little bit better swag than the typical pen or clip!

Right! Their goodies definitely were a caliber above most of the vendors

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I was pleasantly surprised to come across the

Epson Photo Fine P2000
, as this is a product I would really like to review.

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All of these media players (and trust me, we saw bazillions of them…) are
cool, but truthfully, they don’t get my heart racing as I already have a device
that can play video, music, view pictures and do a heckuvalot more. It’s called
the HP hx4700 iPAQ.

Well, I am looking at the fact that this particular
device would be a 40GB receptacle for media files while on the road. It supports
Compact Flash and SD memory cards
as well as MS/SM/MMC/XD if you use a CF adaptor.

At the series of Microsoft tables, we finally saw a
Motorola MPx in
person. The phone is really pretty cool – but of course it does me a fat lot of
good in San Angelo, the home of "no GSM service." :0P

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I had seen the MPx at the last Mobius event in December. It’s ok I suppose.
But, the keyboard is too funky for my liking.

The next Vendor was Sonos. They have an
interesting product that distributes music throughout your house by way of
toaster sized boxes called ZonePlayers. They don’t use WiFi, but instead they
use a wireless mesh network to stream music. The whole setup is pretty spendy

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When we came to the Sony tables, I half expected to
see a display of Sony digital Walkmen like my
But instead we got to see the newest
Aibos, the third

ERS-7M2/W and ERS-7M2/B
. These guys are way more lifelike and
fun than the
Julie and I reviewed back in 2001. My how time flies…

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We also saw the new

Sony V Series TV-PC
. This PC has a 200 or 250GB hard drive, perfect to hold
all of the TV shows that can be record directly to it, because this PC is also a
17" or 20" flat screen television. Me likey!

Me too! Gorgeous display! The thing is that it is not running Windows XP
Media Center. The Sony media interface actually looks more interesting than

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The Fossil booth’s PR guy was wearing something that
Julie and I had never thought we would see in real life – the

Fossil Palm PDA watch
that was supposed to come out over two years ago. The
PR guy assured us that they were really available now and that they had been
worth the wait. I just checked the web site, and sure enough – they are, for
$249. While I could see wearing one when I was totally geeking out, this PDA
watch is quite large and I doubt I would want to wear it every day. With that
said, I was actually quite impressed with the impromptu demo he gave us. There
is also a less expensive Abacus version available, but I don’t think it looks as
good…surprise, surprise. ;0)

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The watch runs Palm OS V4.x. It has a touch screen and yes, you can install
applications just like you would a ‘real’ Palm OS PDAs. I actually might be
dweebie enough to wear one of those!

In what would turn out to be a reoccurring theme, we
saw our first consumer electronic that was displayed in a wet environment. The

Pentax Optio WP
. I’ll tell you before Julie busts me on it that I called it a "Pentio"
several times that night. For some reason I decided that name was easier than
saying Pentax Optio.

Judie has her own language. She’s a linguist savant. ;o)

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The next booth caught Judie’s eye first.

Only because I am always on the lookout for cool
iPod accessories for Julie to review. :0)

She nudged me and pointed to a table
filled with all kinds of nifty iPod paraphernalia.
Digital Lifestyle Outfiters A.K.A. DLO
had a cool display with products such as iPod FM transmitters, cases and even an
iPod/iPod Mini 20 watts per channel boombox called the iBoom.

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How would you like to watch TV on your mobile phone?
Nah, me neither. But if you change your mind then you should look at
carried on the Sprint PCS network.

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Although the concept was interesting, when we walked away from the booth, we
both turned to each other and said "too choppy"… This will be a cool service
when transfer speeds increase significantly.

Look, a little Rio MP3 player. Judie and I are now jaded with players as my
fave is still the iPod, and she loves her NetWalkman. Truthfully, I took a look
at her NetWalkman, and it’s really a beauty! Tinier then what I had imagined. I
would actually be tempted to jump to it.

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Look, a table full of
! YUM!

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And then we came upon the iRiver booth
with their media players and audio players. I think I prefer the iPod’s touch
wheel to their touch channel thingy…

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Archos was there showing their products.
This was the first time that Judie had a chance to see their little Gmini 400
(background left image).

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This looked like a pretty cool all in one
Sirius portable unit. The suction cup
attaches to your vehicle’s windshield and the everything is self contained and
will transmit to your FM radio. The player can be removed and brought inside for

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This wouldn’t be the first time we were to see satellite radio devices during
this trip. I wish I had one of each! What I liked about this particular model
was that it had a up/down lever instead of a dial to scroll through stations.

I guess laptop bags for women are turning into a big
market, but nothing I saw was really scratching my itch. This one is remarkable
only because it managed to rip off the style of a toile and leather Hermes
Birkin. I wouldn’t carry it, though.

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Again, not my style ;o)

The device below is for those who want to enjoy SMS without
having to type their messages on a mobile phone’s keyboard.

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Somehow failed to get info on that product so we don’t even remember the
name. Sorry…I guess you can tell we weren’t super
impressed. ;0)

After we were done with the booths in the Digital
Experience Show, Julie and I decided we were hungry! No, we did not eat any of
the food that was offered in the show because we have found that it is about
impossible to shake hands and speak to people when you are holding much more
than a glass of diet coke in one hand and a brochure in the other. After walking
around and looking at the menus on some of the Bellagio’s restaurants, we
decided to give one a try. But then we were told that without a reservation it
wasn’t happening, at least not that busy night. We ducked into the Caffe
Bellagio, where I enjoyed a Thai Chicken wrap and Julie had the Asian Chicken

I was hoping that the salad would be similar to AppleBee’s Oriental Chicken
Salad, but no such luck. The chicken was cold :o( Oh well, we would have better
food later…

After the days events, we were bushed, so we soon
returned to the room

Continue on to part Part 2.

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