Consumer Electronics Go Digital for 2002

This week's Cybershake takes a peek at consumer electronics for the new year, reviews the top search terms of last year, and notes the latest research in how people are using the Web.

Electronic Goodies for 2002

Consumer electronics makers and retailers will gather in Las Vegas this week for the annual CES trade show, a chance to display — and play with — hot new entertainment products and trends for the coming year. And what's in store for the digital gadget hound is sure to please.

According to Jim Barry of the Consumer Electronics Association, the organization that manages the annual CES gathering, the major trend among consumer electronics gear for this year will be the continuing transition to digital technology.

Consider the high-tech replacement for the lowly VCR. "What we're going to see this year — that we just touched on at the end of 2001 — are recordable DVD," says Barry. Although such units still cost hundreds of dollars more than VCRs, "The prices will get lower," he says.

Televisions will also get bigger, flatter and sharper, thanks to digital plasma display technologies. But such products won't be exactly inexpensive. "Now you can get a high definition plasma display for about $10,000," says Barry.

Devices will also become more compact, yet do more. Barry says that there will be handheld devices that are not just a phone, not just a pager, not just text message system, not just a digital music player, but really all of those in one — kind of like an electronic Swiss Army knife.

— Larry Jacobs, ABCNEWS

Searching for Britney and Bin Laden

What was really on America's mind in 2001? Based on the top keywords and search terms used at Internet search engine Lycos, the answers may surprise you.

Aaron Schatz with Terra Lycos says the No. 1 search term in 2001 was "dragonball." "It's a Japanese cartoon that's popular with teenagers, as well as with college students; and it has comic books and video games and action figures and all sorts of stuff associated with it," says Schatz.

Other entertainment related terms were hot, too. Pop singer Britney Spears made the list again, but dropped to second place. Napster, the digital music file-swapping site, has been off-line since last July. But its name still tops Lycos' charts as number three.

Naturally, the recent terrorist attacks propelled many new terms to the top, as well. Most-wanted terrorist "Osama bin Laden" was fifth on the Lycos list and "world trade center" was number eight.

Schatz also notes that in the week after Sept. 11, the most searched for term on the Internet was "Nostradamus." "That was [because of] the hoax that went around after the attacks saying that Nostradamus had predicted them back in the 16th century," says Schatz.

Lycos predicts the keywords to watch in 2002 will include "Star Wars Two" and "Spiderman" — both movies due out this year. And with the Winter Olympics set to begin in February at Salt Lake City, Schatz says two figure skaters, Michelle Kwan and Sarah Hughes, might make the 2002 list as well.

— Clarissa Douglas, ABCNEWS

Bridging the Cybergap

A new study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project says we're using our computers more than ever.

"The Internet population is looking more and more like the population of America," says Project Director Lee Rainie. "[The] use of Internet tools is becoming an everyday occurrence in lots more American lives."

Rainie also says more women than men pointed, clicked, and shopped until they dropped this holiday season.

"In the earliest days of the Internet, when the population was so much oriented toward young white men, they were doing most of the shopping," he says. "But now that so many women have gone online in the last couple years, they have gone online as shoppers and overtaken them."

And using the Internet to socialize is still a big draw for many. "People [are] using e-mail to make holiday plans, using the Web to get recipe ideas, craft ideas, to get spiritual information, things like that."

Rainie says the events of Sept. 11 didn't prompt more of us to use e-mail for holiday greetings, in place of cards, though.

— Daria Albinger, ABCNEWS

Cybershake is produced for ABCNEWS Radio by Andrea J. Smith.