Gadget Show Abuzz With Mobile Devices

ByABC News
January 6, 2005, 11:28 AM

Jan. 7, 2005 &#151 -- In this week's "Cybershake," we take a look at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, taking place in Las Vegas and at a digital camera from Kodak with wireless Net connections.

From fancy flat-screen TV sets to home theater setups to camcorders to digital satellite services, consumers are flooded with choices in entertaining electronics. And judging from this year's Consumer Electronics Show, there's still plenty more to come -- and go.

More than 2,400 exhibitors and 120,000 attendees are gathering at the annual trade show to see what global electronics makers will be offering in the coming year.

As in previous years, a majority of the space in the Las Vegas Convention Center will be devoted to home electronics: high-definition TVs, DVD players and even computers designed to manage your growing collection of digital entertainment choices. But one of the big focuses at CES this year is on mobile entertainment.

"There's a lot of buzz about cell phones this year," says Jim Louderback, editor-in-chief of ExtremeTech, an Internet Web site and magazine produced by Ziff Davis Media. "There are a lot of really interesting cell phones."

Motorola, Samsung, and LG Electronics, all introduced new cell phones with color screens and better built-in digital cameras. Some models will even support EVDO, a standard to handle wireless digital data much more efficiently.

That's important because wireless operators will be offering more data services in the coming year. Verizon, for example, is expected to announce today at the show a slew of new wireless data options, including a TV-like service.

"The cell phone itself is becoming a platform," says Louderback.

Also of interest at the show, says Louderback, is the continuing struggle for next generation standards. This year, the fight is over so-called high-definition DVDs. On one side is the so-called Blu-Ray standard backed by the likes of Sony, Hitachi and Samsung. On the other is the "HD-DVD" standard developed by Japanese giants Toshiba and NEC.

Both DVD formats are designed to hold high-definition videos which require much more digital storage space than current DVD technology can provide. Both standards are "backwards compatible" and next generation DVD players built on either standard will play back regular DVDs. But, both standards are incompatible with each other.

"There is a battle going on ... Blu-ray versus HD-DVD and we don't know which standard is going to win," says Louderback.

-- Al Mancini, ABC News

Digital cameras have won the hearts and wallets of consumers now. For many casual shutterbugs, it's all about convenience since digital pictures don't require film.

But soon, a new digital camera from photo giant Eastman Kodak will take the convenience of digital photography a step further -- even for those without a computer.

At the CES this week, Kodak displayed its forthcoming EasyShare-One digital camera. The four-megapixel camera comes with several unique features, including a three-inch color screen that responds to a user's touch.

But most noticeable, says Kodak spokesman Mike MacDougall, is the camera's wireless capability.

"People told us they want to share those pictures in new and exciting ways, which we're giving them," says MacDougall. "What this camera does is give you the ability to share pictures wirelessly."

The camera comes with built-in software that can automatically connect with any Wi-Fi network, including public "hot spots" such as those provided at cafes and airports.

The camera uses the Wi-Fi hook-ups to connect to Kodak's EasyShare Gallery Web site, an online photo sharing service formerly known as Ofoto, where users can store pictures and e-mail them to any Internet address. For owners with Wi-Fi networks at home, the camera can wirelessly connect and share pictures with home computers and printers.

"Kodak's found that most consumers have about 800 to 2,000 pictures on their home PC," says MacDougall. "You can sit on your coach upload pictures to the PC without moving and at the same time have all your favorite pictures instantly synchronized back into your camera."

The EasyShare-One has 256 megabytes of built-in memory that can store as many as 1,500 digital images. A slot in the camera allows owners to add memory cards that can store thousands of additional digital images.