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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
Thursday, 1/6/2005 Tech-Edge E-zine

First reports from CES 2005 Las Vegas
January 6th 2005 by Chuck Brown, Assoc Editor

The economy is very healthy and you can clearly see that in the often extravagant booths if the 2,400 exhibitors. Samsung has the largest booth there at 25,000 sq. ft. of the 1.5 million sq.ft. of available exhibit space. The competition for your buying power is quite evident as the companies try to out do each other in technologies from Flat Panel Plasma Displays to Cell Phones and Computers with accessories to Personal Digital Music Players.

As usual for this biggest of technology extravaganzas, gigantic televisions displays catches your eye everywhere. But that part of the war for your living room’s technology isn’t all of it. Most every company there wants a piece of your living room and the rest of you home too,

The obvious guys like SBC Communications, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications are expected to make major announcements on their strategies to deliver all the digital content you might ever want. All these giants are cozy with the best of the consumer computer fraternity too.

"Everyone wants to get into the living room, whether it's Microsoft or the telcos," said Ted Schadler, an industry analyst with Forrester Research.

Part of that mad dash for home and SOHO digital connectivity is the networking industry with all sorts of net technology goodies. More digital music or video sharing and players for your home network, while network storage devices are everywhere, finally evolving from the big costly NAS devices only seen in corporate networks.

One the biggest Hard Disk Drive manufactures, Maxtor was first to announce a new one-pice Home/SOHO network drive in 200GB and 300GB sizes based on their very nice OneTouch II external HDD series. It also sports Broadcom’s new Network Attached Storage On-A-Chip (NASoC) Solution. Maxtor told us that we’d be one of the first to review it. Look for that in early March.

Speaking of HDD’s, Hitachi (once the IBM hard drive division), announced a staggering 500GB hard drive for desktops. Hitachi, the number 2 manufacturer of HDD’s is also hinting about a break through in the stamp-sized Microdrives too, but the details are lacking. As you might of heard, Hitachi is also busy suing companies in China and the US for patent infringements on the Microdrive technology. Hitachi also said it plans to offer a smaller version of its 1-inch Microdrive that takes up one-fifth less space, consumes less power, and can hold eight to 10 billion bytes of data. This new drive is nicknamed "Mikey."

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Other goodies at the show include:

  • Sling Media Inc. displayed the SlingBox Personal Broadcaster, a device that lets users watch regular TV on any Internet-connected gadget, including laptops, handheld devices and video-enabled mobile phones.
  • Motorola Inc., is showing cell phones which will soon let people play songs they buy through Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes Music Store
  • Microsoft Corp. is touting new media extender devices that can pipe to various rooms in your house the photos, TV shows and music from HP's new Digital Entertainment Center and other Windows-based media servers sitting in the living room. (We hope this last longer than Microsoft’s short venture into home networking before quickly abandoning it)
  • Samsung is planning to release a 80-inch plasma TV in May but did not name a price. It bills the display as the world's largest plasma TV, though Samsung has actually demonstrated a prototype 102-inch set.
  • Samsung also has a new “long-life” MP3 music player, in price ranging from $120 up to $200 for a 1-gigabyte model. It supports systems to copy-protect music and includes popular MP3 player add-ons like an FM radio tuner and voice recording capabilities. It will be available this January and likely be linked to Napster.
  • Olympus unveiled three new digital cameras into the hottest tech item market this last Christmas. They include the 4 megapixel D-425 with 4x Zoom and PictBridge for first time buyers; the C-5500 Sport Zoom (5X) with 5.1-megapixel CCD, 2-inch LCD and high-end optics for the mid-range buyer; and the C-7070 Wide Zoom with a 7.1-megapixel CCD, wide-angle lens, magnesium body, 27 to 110mm, f2.8 ˆ f.8.0 lens, 4x optical zoom and a new 1.8-inch Semi-Transmissive swivel LCD for difficult picture taking angles.
  • Need to keep that expensive 3.2Ghz notebook safe when traveling? Targus has a new HP Evolution Ultra Portable Leather Notebook Case (Model # HP800) with the “Dome Protection System” (patent pending). There will apparently be a whole new line of cases using this new travel protective technology.

That’s a wrap for today, our feet are already killing us and our reporting staff has more to see over the next couple days. We’ll be back on Friday with more coverage.

Cheers,
CB


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