CES 2008 Picks and Pans

We spent the whole year waiting for the world's greatest gadgetfest, and in the blink of an eye, it's already over. Though a lot of shiny toys were on display, one category stood out: There were more new HDTVs than people in Las Vegas this week. (And our favorite was only a concept model! Doh!) But we liked some other stuff, too, including high-fashion notebooks, cell phones that silence with a wave of your hand, and even a set of diving goggles with their own built-in camera. Here's more of what the PCW CES team loved and hated at this year's show.

Notebook en Fabrique: Even with bulky and hardened "ruggedized" laptops, you need to be careful. But I'm hoping Fujitsu's concept Fabric PC becomes a reality sometime soon. Fujitsu says the fabric-notebook concept uses a form of e-paper for the display, allowing designers to give the portable a soft, pliable outer shell. So not only does its fabric design makes it ultralight and rugged, but it can also double as a pillow. --Tom Spring

KURO Is the New Black: Pioneer unveiled a prototype of its newest infinite-contrast-ratio technology, which allows the company to produce some very impressive blacks on an HDTV. In a dark room, the image seemed to float in space as the black bezel on the TV merged seamlessly with the image on the screen. Unfortunately, we won't see this technology until at least 2009. I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. --Greg Adler

Talk to the Hand: Gesture control, which the Nintendo Wii has made famous, is undoubtedly going to become an important part of consumer electronics in the next few years. I especially liked JVC's prototype "snap and gesture" system for controlling a television, in which your hand is literally the remote control. This technology has a way to go, but the advantages are obvious--so long as you aren't forced to reprogram your hand. --Ramon G. McLeod

Forget the Clapper: Sony Ericsson's Z555 cell phone not only looks sharp, but it also has a motion sensor that will mute the handset when you make a gesture. A phone you can shut up that easily is definitely a keeper. --Yardena Arar

Super Spurs:Toshiba's booth featured demos of an upcoming Qosmio entertainment laptop featuring the SpursEngine, a media processor that's a simplified cousin of the potent Cell processor inside the Sony PlayStation 3. The chip lets the Qosmio perform such tricks as upscaling standard-definition video into pseudo high-def; creating animated avatars with real people's faces mapped onto them in real time; and allowing users to control a movie player by gesturing with their hand. --Harry McCracken

A New Way to Display: Curved displays from Alienware and NEC, flexible displays from LG-Philips, and a multitouch display also from LG-Philips are examples of interesting directions for monitors. It's about time. --Melissa J. Perenson

But What If It Rains? The Iqua Sun (BHS-603) claims to be the first solar-powered Bluetooth headset, capable of supporting up to 12 hours of talk time and retailing for $100. --Yardena Arar

Is It Live...?Sony's demo of the PlayStation 3 serving as a BD-Live, Internet-connected player was a welcome sight for two reasons. One, we got to see BD-Live in action--finally. Two, the demo ran on a PS3 with a modified, future firmware, which means PS3s everywhere will someday turn into BD-Live players. --Melissa J. Perenson

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