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CES: The gadgets of 2004

Intrepid gizmologist previews the Consumer Electronics Show

By Shoshana Berger
Business 2.0

Rob Van Bolkland of the Netherlands installs a video globe at the Phillips booth at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Rob Van Bolkland of the Netherlands installs a video globe at the Phillips booth at the Consumer Electronics Show.

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Consumer Electronics Show
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Las Vegas (Nevada)

Editor's note: Gizmos Weekly is produced by Business 2.0 and features gadget reviews and gift ideas

(Business 2.0) -- I know one thing: The 300 e-mails announcing product launches at the International Consumer Electronics Show are certainly rocking my inbox.

Thursday through Sunday, the world's largest consumer technology trade show will flash the brightest silicone-embedded strobe in Las Vegas. There'll be the usual fanfare of keynote speakers and talking heads -- from Michael Powell to Carly Fiorina -- rhapsodizing over tech innovations and media mergers.

But I'm more interested in doing my own sleuthing for the hot new trends of 2004.

Last year, flat-screen displays and wireless networking stole the show, which also featured some straight-to-landfill e-junk that made me fear for our planet.

Judging from the early press releases I've received, integrated home-entertainment networks, the digital car, wearable tech, home-network devices, DVD recorders, and portable DVD players are the categories to watch in the coming months. (Stand-alone DVD players continue to be the fastest-selling technology of all time, with factory-to-dealer sales of more than $3 billion in 2003.)

All the usual suspects -- Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba -- will be out in their PR regalia, touting both upgrades and full-scale launches. Here's a preview of some head-turning products and innovations I'll be sniffing out for future reviews:


Sound bite: Starship Enterprise-like wireless wrist remote that operates all the electronics in your smart home.

Real-world business app: Provides a sterile interface for medical professionals and staff.

Planon Systems Solutions's DocuPen Scanner

Sound bite: A sci-fi-inspired pen-size scanner that can capture an entire page of text and graphics in four seconds and can store as many as 100 pages in 2 megabytes of flash memory.

Real-world business app: Like a pocket-size photographic memory, the pen scanner lets road warriors capture everything from business cards to, ahem, classified documents that can't be copied.

Philips 30-Inch LCD FlatTV

Sound bite: Dutch company Philips is still the category killer when it comes to design, and this environmentally conscious TV breaks new ground.

Real-world business app: For companies trying to cut down on power consumption, the Philips LCD requires 40 percent less energy and weighs significantly less than comparable flat screens.

Sony Double-Layer DVD

Sound bite: Hot off the presses, the first of the double-layer DVD drives and discs will ship this quarter. Sony, historically a flagship in digital media storage, will be doing a first-look demo.

Real-world business app: With nearly twice the capacity of standard discs, or about 8.5GB each, double-layer DVDs will no doubt be instantly christened the non plus ultra of digital storage for entertainment-media types.

So, sports fans, keep your browsers tuned to this station for a play-by-play show wrap-up early next week.

For more technology news visit Business 2.0.

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