It’s the Super Bowl of Gadgets — every January, thousands of manufacturers converge on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest trade show. The show officially begins January 8, but “Today” tech editor Corey Greenberg has a sneak preview of the hottest gadgets for 2004:
I understand there was a big announcement yesterday that will make music lovers and MP3 downloaders very happy in 2004.
Just hours ago Apple unveiled its next generation iPod portable music player at MacWorld in San Francisco, and it’s already sent shockwaves through the gadget world. It’s called the iPod Mini, and it’s a smaller, lighter, more colorful portable music player. The new 4GB iPod Mini has the world’s smallest hard drive, as well as a smaller price than the iPod at $249. Ever since the original iPod launched several years ago, people have been asking for a smaller, less expensive version of the most popular portable music player on the market, and not only has it arrived, but in a rainbow of optional colors as well. www.apple.com
What are some of the big trends we’re seeing at CES this year?
2004 is definitely the year of the flat TV. All kinds of new flat panel TVs are going to launch at CES, and the big news this CES is all the cool high-tech tricks they can do. In terms of size, a new world’s record has just been broken — tomorrow, LG Electronics will launch the world’s biggest plasma TV yet, a mammoth 76-inch model that’s five inches bigger than their previous record-breaker of just a few months ago. No price has been set yet on this high-tech behemoth, but while most of us can only dream of a 42-inch plasma TV, the new LG monster plasma shows that TV manufacturers have set their sights on bigger screen sizes than we’ve ever seen on consumer televisions, now that the sets are so thin they won’t dominate a living room the way conventional big screens do. http://us.lge.com/
Mirror, mirror, on the wall—is that really a television?
This fancy wooden picture frame may look like a decorative mirror, but with the push of a button it turns into a high-tech flat-panel LCD TV. Philips’s Mirror TV uses a unique polarized mirror technology, which transfers close to 100 percent of the TV screen’s light right through the reflective mirror’s surface. Designed to install flush with the wall, it’s designed to go anywhere in the house, and what better way to catch the Today Show and brush your teeth at the same time without foaming all over the living room carpet? www.philips.com
Is that an Epson TV? I thought they only made computer printers.
Epson will announce tomorrow on the first day of CES that it’s officially entering the consumer electronics market as a maker of high-end TVs. Their first model is called the Living Station, and it’s unlike any TV ever seen before. Not only does it boast a gorgeous, high-definition 47-inch or 57-inch LCD rear-projection screen, but the Epson big-screen has a slot on the front panel for your digital camera’s media card, so you can take a bunch of pictures, take the card out of the camera, stick it in the Epson’s slot, and view all your digital photos in beautiful high-resolution format. And as if that’s not enough, if you want to print any of the photos — well, seeing as how Epson knows a thing or two about state-of-the-art photo printing — the new Epson TV has a built-in 4x6 photo printer built right into the front panel! You just choose a photo on the screen, click the TV remote, and in less than 60 seconds you have a 4x6 print — and if that’s not enough, you can also print screen shots of whatever you’re watching on the Epson TV!
Epson clearly wants to make a bold statement with its first foray into home entertainment electronics — this is one of the most impressive and forward-thinking products I’ve ever seen at CES. $3,499 for the 47-inch, $3,999 for the 57-inch: www.epson.com
That Sony TV looks like a pocket calculator!
Sony calls their latest high-tech gadget “Location Free TV”. It’s a wafer-thin, lightweight, portable 5-inch LCD TV, and features wireless audio and video signal connection to your home’s satellite receiver, DVD player, Tivo, etc. But the really amazing thing about Location Free TV is that this gadget can access any open WiFi network anywhere in the world and play local programming from your local city — in other words, I’m here in Las Vegas, but I could be watching local New York newscasts and sports on this Sony portable TV as long as I’m linked to a wireless WiFi network. www.sony.com
What’s inside that car?
Pioneer will announce tomorrow their latest GPS navigation system for installation in any car, any brand. The kicker this year is that not only does the Pioneer system talk to you and tell you turn-by-turn directions, not only can you talk to it and tell it where you want to go, but the new Pioneer is the first GPS navigation system that learns your own personal voice inflections and gets better at understanding what you say every time you use it. Current voice-command GPS systems either work with your speech patterns or they don’t — and they usually don’t. The Pioneer is the first adaptive voice-command GPS on the market, and points the way toward more advanced voice-command gadgetry in cars of the near future. $2,200 www.pioneerelectronics.com
Corey Greenberg is the tech editor for “Today.” You can learn more about him by visiting his Web site at: