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CES: Home Is Where the Gadgets Are

The Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas is never short on entertainment. This year, it’s all about the living room.
January 5, 2006

The Consumer Electronic Expo is up and running – and product releases are pouring out of Las Vegas. The only oddity: everything seems to cost $400 this year. Technology Review will have a much more extensive look at the show this Friday. Until then, here’s a quick look at what I’ve found interesting.

What we do know so far is that home networking and seamless media environments (and, yes, I know that Apple does this better than Microsoft) are dominating the news.

Palm is teaming up with Microsoft on its new Treo device, the 700w, in hopes of putting a dent in the Blackberry market. The device will run on the Verizon network and be marketed to corporate clients. (Ed. note: For those of us who love our decidedly buggy Treos, the thought of them having a Microsoft environment makes me shudder. I haven’t been impressed with MS mobile devices.)

Speaking of Microsoft, chairman Bill Gates unveiled the new Vista operating system yesterday. For those of you who think I’m a Microsoft apologist (or, actually, simply anti-Apple), you should check out our review of the Vista OS next week. And, in a stunning turn of events (this is sarcasm, but it doesn’t translate well on the Web), Gates declared that software – not design – was the future of computing.

“The software is where the magic is. If you’re going to have all this power be simple enough, appealing enough and cool enough, it’s going to be because the software is right,” Gates said in an interview with Reuters in advance of his address at the largest U.S. electronics show of the year.

And while we’re on Microsoft – Gates said he viewed IBM as the company’s chief competition, not Google.

The next-generation DVDs are going to hit the market in full force soon – just about the time I’ve updated my VHS collection to digital. The two camps:

One faction, known as HD DVD, championed by Toshiba Corp (6502.T), holds the view that consumers will buy high-definition DVDs and players, but only at the right price…On the other side, Blu-ray will debut at about four times the cost of its competition.

On Friday, our own Simson Garfinkel will have a take on a new VoIP phone coming to market; but here’s a quick overview of the latest Netgear product.

Just in time for the legions of Howard Stern listeners who are heading over to satellite radio (and apparently leaving David Lee Roth to talk to…nobody), there are a few new satellite radio/MP3 players on the market. It’s not quite in time for Stern: XM has the first player to market, with Stern’s Sirius coming this summer.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

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We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

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The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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