2008 CES: More Tech Than You Can Handle

Las Vegas this week becomes the tech capital of the world as the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show and an estimated 140,000 conventioneers take over Sin City.

This giant tech confab features an estimated 27,000 gadgets that range from a cell-phone-sized projector from Microvision and sleek OLED displays from Samsung, to dueling wireless technologies (WirelessHD and Wireless USB) that aim to eliminate all those wires behind your HDTV.

Pre-show events start tomorrow. The show floor opens Monday.

What's new this year? For one this year's CES is billed as the greenest ever with vendors touting power-saving hard-disk drives to other gadget firms showing off green-designed gear built with a reduced amount of nasty toxins like lead.

Also new will be a strong showing of in-car gadgets that go beyond GPS navigation systems. CES representatives say this year's show will have 250,000 square feet of in-car gadgets.

It will also be the last time Microsoft's Bill Gates delivers his annual CES keynote addresses. But don't get to teary-eyed. There will be plenty of cool technologies on display to distract anyone from worrying about what Gates' post-CES plans are.

This year's CES will cover nearly 1.85 million square feet of exhibition space that spans across the huge Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as the Sands Expo and Convention Center, as well as the Las Vegas Hilton and Venetian hotels.

There's going to be lots to see at CES. For one, we are interested in  Pinnacle Systems' Pinnacle Transfer Video gizmo and whether it lives up to its promise of allowing you to record analog video onto your iPod sans the need for a PC. Pinnacle announced its video capture device early and will be showing it for the first time at CES.

Another pre-announced CES gadget we're interested in seeing in Vegas is Sling Media's SlingPlayer Mobile software for the BlackBerry. The software is supposed to allow you to watch live TV streamed from any Slingbox model to a 3G wireless or Wi-Fi enabled BlackBerry smartphone.

Motorola also pre-announced one of its CES gadgets as well. It will show its Motorola DH01 portable television that allows you to watch broadcast TV on a 4.3-inch screen and also functions as a digital video recorder. Eat your heart out TiVo.  

CES will feature laptops with more pizzazz and entertainment features. Bill Gates at his Sunday night keynote kicking off CES will reportedly be holding a PC "fashion show" with celebrity judge Nigel Barker of "America's Next Top Model" to see which notebook maker has the snazziest design.

Expect to see a slew of other notebooks featured at CES outfitted with high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) ports. These ports help turn notebooks into quasi-home theater components allowing you to connect say a notebook's Blu-ray disc drive to a HDTV.

On the other end of the notebook spectrum, look for ultraportables and UMPCs (ultra-mobile PCs) to have a significant presence CES as well. Vendors will show off tiny new notebooks that are faster and cheaper, and able to eke out better battery life.



Keep Cell Phone Expectations Low

Where are the wireless handsets at CES? Phone vendors don't go wild at CES--many hold off for the giant 3GSM exposition a month later in Barcelona, Spain. But Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Nokia will all have booths at CES, and probably a few new handsets as well.

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