Some bits and pieces from today's press conferences and tonight's excellent Digital Experience press event (I should point out that Strategy Analytics clients will get fuller details on this and other CES developments in due course).
LG got the day off to a roaring start by introducing the world's first single-drive Blu-Ray Disc/HD-DVD player. The demonstration even worked first time. But it's not a device that's likely to please the HD-DVD backers or encourage content owners to launch titles on HD-DVD as it doesn't support the HD-DVD interactive platform, iHD.
Pioneer and Panasonic gave us the usual "why plasma is best" indoctrination sessions. At least Panasonic has some products to show: Pioneer spent half an hour telling us how wonderful their completely redesigned plasma technology was but couldn't show us the product. Talk about anti-climax! We'll hopefully see the thing in action if we can struggle through the crowds on the show floor tomorrow.
Toshiba focused on HD-DVD and 1080p. A lacklustre presentation generally, demonstrating once again that if you call something absolutely amazing one year it raises the question why next year's product should be any better. HD-DVD first generation was good. Now there's a new generation. The percentage incremental improvement between the two is probably so small as to be incalculable.
We spent some time looking at Nokia's latest handheld devices. The N76 is a new slimline phone with all the Nseries features except the most important one in my view: WiFi. So I'm still waiting for the perfect phone, but it's tantalisingly close. They're introducing an upgrade to the 770 Internet tablet as well, the N800, which includes loudspeakers, a built-in stand and a webcam. I approve of the focus on sound: my 770 serves as a portable Internet radio but it barely does the job without headphones. The 800 looks like being a significant improvement.
At Digital Experience, a number of companies were showing Bluetooth stereo headphones, including iLuv (www.i-luv.com
), which claimed the only noise-cancelling model on the market. I'm a big fan of noise cancelling and have been through several major brands (Sony, Philips, JVC) in the search for the best solution. Bose will be pleased to hear I ended up plumping for their latest model, the Series 3, at considerable expense but worthwhile to the regular plane using music lover. If only they could get rid of the wires.... latest versions of Bluetooth are holding more promise for high quality stereo audio.
Logitech is a company I have admired for some time. Best known for computer mice, they in fact offer a wide range of digital consumer electronics peripherals and control devices. They have recently acquired Slim Devices' internet radio device business, so I will look for evidence that Logitech's financial muscle can drive would should be a rapidly growing market for the millions of wireless home network users around the world.
Finally AOL demonstrated their latest AOL Video offering. We gave them a hard time over claims of DVD or even HD video quality, which they clearly are not offering. But the range of content available is impressive and users willing to spend up to $19.99 on a VHS-quality downloaded movie have plenty of choice. Very little content is paid for today, and that's the challenge for AOL and its content partners. There is some way to go before these models approach the mainstream.