Monday, January 7, 2008

CES 2008: A Whole Lotta Stuff

After the press conferences on Press Day have ended, we typically head over to a "pre-show" exhibit that pretty much serves as a mini-CES. In a massive hotel ballroom, hundreds of exhibitors set up shop for journalists to come by and get a glimpse of what they'll be launching the next day in their larger booths on the actual show floor.

This year, it appears there were a lot more participants on both the exhibitor and attendee side. What I thought might be a quiet, much more sub-dued environment turned out to be a smaller version of the loud and crowded show floor. Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile event.

In terms of product, there was tons, from a slew of portable GPS navigation devices, to digital photo frames (yep, they're still hot), and other nifty gadgets and gizmos. One of my favourites: a digital photo frame from Smartparts that has a 4 x 6 printer attached to its back. Just select the desired image, press the "print" button on the included remote and the blue button on the back of the frame, and out comes your photo in less than two-minutes time. (Stay tuned to for a video demonstration of this product).

Another fave (also soon to be available via video demonstration) is Belkin's RockStar (shown above), which is likely to be very popular among the teenage crowd. The star-shaped hub has six standard 3.5 mm jacks (one of which is hard-wired for connecting MP3 players) and/or headphones, and sharing the music experience with friends. A second wire is included for connecting another MP3 player, while additional cords are available for purchase. Once connected, kids can share tunes with one another, listen to each other's tunes, or even mix tunes together. It's just US$19.99, which makes it even more attractive for parents!

The mini-show was open for a three-hour period, but that wasn't nearly enough time to chat with even 50% of the companies there. However, many told me they were showing off just a few, select products there, but have kept the main launches for today, the first official day of the show. Of course, how else are they going to get you to come to their booth, right? Needless to say, I will indeed be visiting a few people again to see what more they have to offer.

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