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Convergence of tech plays big role at CES 2008


Delivering digital content in new ways will be a key theme at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as a record crowd expected to top 150,000 packs the convention center and surrounding sites.

And they’ll be seeing the newest and largest flat-panel TVs, slick new smart phones and portable media players with massive hard drives. New products expected to debut at the show include:

Anew smart phone from Dell. The computer giant is rumored to be working on a phone that can play music, videos and browse the Web better than the iPhone.

Laser TV. The latest variant of DLP TV uses three colored lasers to deliver richer colors. Mitsubishi is rumored to be rolling out a demo.

Aset-top box called ActiveVideo from ICTV that delivers Web-based content to TVs. Executives say it “looks like television, but has the directness and response of the Web.”

Yet another “world’s largest LCD TV,” topping the monstrous 108-inch model unveiled last year by Sharp. No word yet on who will take top honors this year.

The NPD Group vp of industry analysis Stephen Baker said this year’s show is going to build on trends touched on in 2007. “I think CES is going to look a lot like last year,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot of emphasis on flat-panel TVs and the intersection of content and hardware.”

Providing content for old and new platforms will be the issue for Sony Pictures Television and NBC Universal. Sony will promote and exhibit its entertainment content along with new products from Sony Electronics on the show floor and feature live performances from stars like Jerry Seinfeld. And NBC Universal is serving as the first ever “official broadcast partner” for CES, with live broadcasts of product debuts and special events on the show floor.

Delivering programs in a new way was a part of CES in 2007, when Verizon Wireless unveiled its VCast Mobile TV service that provides shows from networks like Fox and CBS to dedicated channels on Verizon phones. But this year, Sony, Universal and other entertainment giants will take a broader approach, emphasizing the availability of mobile content and the concept of in-home “convergence” of TVs, computers and the Internet.

“A lot of the activity will be about getting people to think about finding content in new places and moving it around their homes,” said Baker.

Also new to the show is the “Sandbox Summit.” The exhibition at the Sands Expo Center is showcasing the latest high-tech toys and gadgets designed to entertain and educate children.

New technology for cars is another hot area. More than 200 exhibitors, led by General Motors and BMW, are on the show floor touting items like GPS navigation systems and mini-theaters for cars. And GM ceo Rick Wagoner will be the first ceo of an auto manufacturer to deliver a keynote speech at the show.

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