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Tech Trends from CES 2008

Too much, too fast! This year's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw some 20,000 new products introduced from the more then 2,700 exhibiting companies.


It's a wonderful, but confusing, world at the electronics store -- for consumers as well as manufacturers. What is the industry to do? -- There's so much new technology to leverage, so many possible features to add, and so much potential in integrating multiple devices. But you can't ask customers what they want, because the new devices have not been invented yet. So instead we see a profusion of different combinations of features, form factors, and price points thrown into the market to see what sticks.

Some trends and issues for the new year include:

- Connected home: Purchased content is becoming less encumbered, with DRM-free MP3 downloads and managed transfers within the connected home. But do you want TV on your PC, and/or PC features on your TV -- with RSS feeds in pop-up windows? And who will control the box that bridges the two worlds, the cable company or Apple TV?

- Digital TV: Flat-screen TVs are hot with consumers, and have finally reached "Full HD" resolution. But there's still major improvements coming in size, design, picture quality, and connectivity -- as well as the new OLED displays. Or is the future actually in mobile TV on smaller screens?

- Mobile media: Portable media players add video and connectivity, while mobile phones add media and Internet playback, both overlapping further with features including Internet radio, streaming video, and Web access. And both do GPS, while GPS navigators add media and hands-free phone. Now you can watch TV while reading the live map, and talking on the phone.

- Cameras: The picture phone is becoming the dominant imaging device. But still cameras shoot better photos plus reasonable video, and video camcorders shoot HD video and great stills. We'll all be recording and recorded, especially as today's memory-based HD camcorders shrink to the size of a soda can.

- Portable storage: Storage outstrips Moore's Law, with continued re-doubling of capacity and shrinking size, with solid-state drives (SSD) starting to make sense for laptops. Yet sneakernet still lives, both for sharing, and for moving content within the home.

- Wireless: There's Wi-Fi and WiMAX to the home and neighborhood, wireless mobile Internet to the PC, wireless HD video to the TV, wireless USB to devices, and even wireless power for recharging. Or you can just network over the existing power line. Or a simple approach like Bluetooth can continue to develop to really enable computers, players, phones, and headsets to share phone calls, stereo music, and controls through the air.

I've updated my CES 2008 Summary article with links to a variety of wrap-up articles and commentary, including top 10 lists, best-of awards, and more video essays and photo updates from the event.


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This entry posted on January 25, 2008.

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