Consumer Electronics Show

cesMany years ago I used to regularly attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Held in Las Vegas every January and again in Chicago in June, it was the place for the trade to experience the products manufacturer’s hoped consumers would covet.

Now with only one show in Las Vegas in January, it’s much different. Especially now that Comdex is no longer. So coming out here for CES this year has caused me to remember the shows I attended in the past — but more so how dramatically CES has changed (as well as Las Vegas itself).

While the blog Engadget is doing a great job showcasing the innovation being displayed at CES — and I’ve only seen 25% of the floor thus far — my first days observations are these:

  • The width of plasma TV’s are causing vendors of furniture (mostly non-mainstream vendors) to innovative with wall units with new, wide openings for these TV’s, furniture pieces where the flat panel TV’s rise up out of the piece, and even casual chairs for watching movies
  • The iPod and accessories for it are everywhere. One company had an in-wall, iPod docking station with an in-wall controller for playing the audio on your iPod in your home. Another (Monster) showed several iPod accessories including the iCruze which replaces a CD changer allowing the iPod to be used within any car already equipped with a CD changer
  • A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) company (BroadVoice) has, in my mind, hit the sweet spot of really cheap and really fully featured internet telephony. For example, they’re offering unlimited in the U.S. for $9.95; unlimited world for $19.95 (ahh…most of the world); and unlimited world plus for $24.95 (basically everywhere). They also have a host of other features.
  • Bluetooth, USB and other protocols/standards had numerous innovative products utilizing them
  • One of THE most interesting startup companies (with a nice presence too) was Control4. These guys are using open standards and protocols (based on Linux and TCP/IP) offering a series of products and a platform on which to build products and services for automating the home. Why was this so interesting? Others like X10 and SmartHome’s Insteon are either old protocols or proprietary ones. Open standards and protocols = good. Proprietary = bad (unless you’re the troll living under the bridge collecting tolls (i.e., license fees) from all the passersby).

There’s a lot more but not much that was jaw dropping. If it hadn’t been for today’s rain, I doubt my colleague and I would’ve ducked in to the innovation area and stumbled upon some pretty fun stuff like these really tiny USB thumb drives called iDisks. (…and they are *really* tiny).

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About Steve Borsch

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