CES 2006: Picks and Pans

RAID For All: Maxtor's OneTouch III Turbo Edition backup drive lets users configure the two drives inside the uber-designed case as RAID 0 or RAID 1. The software helps users understand the tradeoff between RAID 0 (fast data transfer with no data redundancy) and RAID 1 (slower data transfer but data redundancy). The 600GB model costs $550 and the 1-terabyte model costs $900 and should be available soon. --Narasu Rebbapragada

Calculator Nostalgia: HP announced a slew of new computers, cameras, and other products--but it also celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 12-C calculator, a popular old-timer which, amazingly, is still on the market. How many electronics products of any kind from 1981 are still ringing up sales? --Harry McCracken

You Can Never Be Too Small:Camerbright's little light attaches to your cell phone so you can take pictures in the dark. --Steve Bass

Two, Two, Two Screens in One: Of all the technology demos at the show, the one that most impressed me was Sharp's two-way LCD. A screen that shows one image when viewed from one direction and another when viewed from the opposite side seems like a great way to save on digital signage. --Yardena Arar

Video Scrapbooks Made Easy: Now you can share your videos like you do your photos. The Snapfish Home Movie Service lets you upload videos like you do photos at snapfish.com. You put an unlimited number of videos alongside your photos in the same album for $2.99 a month. No software downloads or plug-ins are required. --Eric Butterfield

The Skype's the Limit: It's fascinating to track all the ways that VoIP is pushing further into everyday use. One of those ways is through the host of USB phones showcased at CES that hook into Skype. British company VoIPVoice just announced a $60 Cyberphone-W phone, coming soon, with a better speaker and microphone than normal analog phones to preserve the wideband sound that Skype uses. --Erik Larkin

Where, Oh Where Have the Consumer Electronics Gone?: Sure, over at the Sands Expo, you could still find some of the offbeat electronic consumer gadgets that typically debuted at CES. But this year's show felt as if those products made way for something else . . . --Melissa J. Perenson

The Year of Convergence: Comdex may be in (seemingly permanent) hiatus, which explains why this is the year traditional PC-oriented vendors flocked to Vegas. Whether you were looking at the gargantuan Microsoft or Intel booths, or the array of vendors in the South Hall of the convention center . . . or even checking out the displays at traditional CE companies, you couldn't help but note the overlap. --Melissa J. Perenson

The Year of Skype: At last year's CES, iPod accessories were ubiquitous. This year, the breakout accessory category is Skype (and, by extension, VoIP). Skype-specific handsets, adapters, software, and other gadgetry were in abundance at the show. --Melissa J. Perenson

Google Does Vegas: For several years, the world of personal technology has been blurry enough that CES might more accurately be called The Consumer Electronics and PC Show. This year, it was really The Consumer Electronics, PC, and Web Show--and the company with the most buzz on the show floor seemed to be Google, which announced a video store and a free software bundle called the Google Pack. (I skipped the Google keynote at which these were announced, alas--several people told me that Robin Williams' appearance there was a highlight of the whole week.) --Harry McCracken

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