Las Vegas trade show gives a glimpse of the future of tech
LAS VEGAS – From a digital frying pan to a digital camera wrist watch, the gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show promise a future with more beeps, computer chirps and portable convenience than ever before.
The manufacturers and dealers at the annual trade show here are banking that consumers will continue to gobble up electronic products.
Sales of consumer electronics devices such as DVD players, camcorders, MP3 players, and other mobile devices hit a record $90.1 billion last year in the United States, the Consumer Electronics Association said.
Sales are up 10 percent from 1999, and are expected to reach $95.6 billion in 2001.
Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said consumer electronics are the online store’s fastest-growing segment. Huge sales in devices such as the Palm IIIXE handheld digital assistant helped make electronics the company’s second-highest revenue generator in 2000, he said.
It won’t be long before electronics surpass books as the company’s biggest draw, he predicted.
“They’re perishable items,” Bezos said. “The shelf life is short, and people have to keep getting the latest product.”
Vendors spread out a plethora of new consumer products — some useful, some amusing — over more than 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space at the trade show.
Here’s a sampling of wares American consumers can expect this year:
—Ultra fancy wristwear: Samsung’s Watch Phone tells time, saves voice memos and is a mobile cell phone that can be dialed by voice command. A new Casio wrist watch is touted as the first wearable digital camera and holds up to 100 images.
—Super Audio CD (SACD) players: Pioneer’s Elite Services DV-AX10 is a combination ultrahigh quality CD and DVD player, Philips is also entering the market with its SACD-1000.
—In-dash MP3 music players for cars: Rio says its car stereo can store enough digital music files that someone could drive from Los Angeles to New York City more than 10 times without listening to the same song twice. Visteon says its MP3 car radio can store up to 10 hours of music.
—A growing crop of Web appliances: devices designed either to fit under a kitchen counter or be toted around the home provide wireless Internet access away from a clunky desktop computer. One fancy offering will be Sony’s Airboard, a touch-screen tablet allowing users wireless access to the Web and e-mail while they watch TV from almost anywhere inside their homes.
—Satellite car radios: More than 18 models of car radios will feature AM and FM radio as well as up to 100 radio channels via satellite, according to XM Satellite Radio.
—SmartMedia’s DDL Player: a combined receiver for Internet radio stations and a CD player for home stereo systems.
—Nokia’s Media Terminal: a “home infotainment” set-top box that receives digital TV and video-on-demand, plays MP3 files or connects to a digital camera, and offers Internet access.
—Harman Kardon’s DMC100 Digital Media Center: a product with high-speed Web abilities for streaming video and audio, a built-in DVD/CD player and a 30-gigabyte hard drive that can store up to 10,000 songs in the compressed MP3 format.
—The Truster: a small, portable lie detector that uses voice recognition technology to sense when a person is telling a lie.
—A digital French skillet by Digital Cookware, Inc. The display on the pan handle beeps to alert the cook when the pan’s target temperature has been reached. A digital recipe book is included.
—SmartBox by Brivo: a washing-machine sized container that acts like a 24-hour doorman to receive packages. Delivery persons punch in a product-specific code to open the digitally locked box, which automatically e-mails or pages the owner about the arrival.
—An electronic towel dispenser from Bens Electric Appliance of China that shoots out moist towels, either hot or room temperature.