Minggu, 30 Desember 2007

Will CES 2008 Live Up to the iPhone? (PC World)

Microsoft chair Bill Gates has a tough job ahead of him when he kicks off the keynote speeches at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2008 in Las Vegas next week.

Hell be hard-pressed to make sure CES outshines the Macworld Conference & Expo. Last year Steve Jobs stole the technology-world spotlight at Macworld when he announced the iPhone.Thenewsovershadowed everything at CES, and the device has been as big a hit as everyone thought it would be. Hes on tap to speak again at Macworld this year, and rumors say Apple could reveal anything from its own ultramobile PC to an online movie rental service.

What will Gates announce? Last year rumors of the iPhone--and poor scheduling, with the two shows running at nearly the same time--prompted some people to skip part of CES to hear Jobss speech at Macworld. At least this year the scheduling is better, with Macworld starting just after CES ends. But what Microsoft rumors are floating around? Vista Service Pack 1? Internet Explorer 8? The Xbox 360 might get motion-sensing game controllers so it can compete with Nintendos Wii? Yawn.

Details on the rumored next-generation Windows OS, code-named 7, might be interesting; but since Vista is still new for most people, its hard to guess what a new Windows OS might look like. The most exciting Microsoft rumors today are corporate, not product-oriented--namely, that the software giant might buy Yahoo or Bloomberg.

CES officially runs January 7 through 10 in Las Vegas, but Gates keynote is on Sunday, January 6. The show is one of the largest technology expositions in the world, with companies displaying thousands of gadgets to an estimated 150,000 attendees. The Macworld expo is from January 14through 18 in San Francisco.

New Products On Display

A few disconcerting signs that CES might not be so hot this year have appeared. One is the fact that show promoters are pushing out lists of sports stars, actors, and other celebrities who will be on hand at the show, including Yoko Ono, race car driver Danica Patrick, actor Michael Douglas, world champion Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, and singer Mary J. Blige.

Certainly, so many new and improved gadgets appear at CES every year that companies have to find ways to stand out. More than 2700 companies will be jostling to show off their wares at CES in venues that take up several huge buildings, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Expo and Convention Center, and most of the meeting rooms in The Venetian and other resort hotels.

But does CES need celebrity power to take the place of hot gadgets? So far, only a few trends and product announcements are known to be on the horizon for the show.

Mobility is a major theme this year due to strong sales of laptop PCs, which buyers are starting to favor over desktops. The notebook computer market is growing 30 percent a year,in contrast tosingle-digit growth for desktops.

Motorola is expected to show off new handsets and other products at CES, while Yahoo is said to be previewing new mobile technologies, which may possibly counter Googles Android. Some companies may evenintroduce Gphones made with the Google software. Rumors say that Taiwans HTC has handsets that it has designed for Googles software, and is currently tweaking and perfecting the devices.

Companies are also expected toexhibit satellite technology for mobile TV, as well as HDMI (High Definition Multiple Interface) technology to let users connect high-definition camcorders and cameras to their HDTV for video and picture display.

Show attendees will also see laptop computers with huge hard drives of500GB to 1TB, as well as a number of new ultramobile PCs and smart phones.

Samsung is expected to unveil a 31-inch to 40-inch OLED TV (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode television set) that uses less than half the electricity of a comparable-size LCD TV and is only 4.3 millimeters thick--far easier to mount on a wall than LCDs, which are five to ten times larger.

This year, green is gold at CES. Companies are clamoring to become known as environmental allies with less-toxic or more-power-efficient PC gear. Expected products range from a PC made from corn by Fujitsu to a laptop PC from Asustek that uses bamboo for its casing. The Fujitsu PC uses plastics made from biodegradable products, including castor beans and, its U.S. publicist says, corn. Does that really make the casing biodegradable? In the end, the company will have to prove that the casing does break down, and how long the process takes. If it cant, thenperhaps Fujitsu will be a good corporate citizen and offer a free-recycling program to buyers.

Other companies are expected to show off energy-efficient components (includingmicroprocessors, memory chips, and batteries) andfull systems (including servers, PCs, laptops, and more).

Automotive electronics will be more prominent at this years CES, andthe selection will extend beyondGPS devices (of which there will be many). Rick Wagoner, chair and CEO of General Motors, will give a keynote speech at CES, purportedly about new technology for cars.

Electronics have found their way into more parts of cars, including orchestrating how hybrid cars use their different power sources (such as gas and electricity). Other car technologies include software, such as Sync,that will let youtell your car to turn on the radio or answer the phone, so you can keep your hands on the wheel.

At CES wellfind plenty of new things to check out. But well have to seewhether the show can beat out the Macworld expo for this years technology spotlight.

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