It could be described as a sprawling Olympic village for techno-geeks. Or an after-Christmas present for electronics lovers - manufacturers, buyers, analysts, and news media. For most people, though, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas - which attracts more than 2,400 exhibitors and 120,000 visitors from 110 countries - offers a peek at the not-so-distant future of electronics. A chance to gawk and talk about the latest in gadgets and gizmos from digital cameras to satellite radios and automobile navigation systems.
So, what might you expect to see in a store near you?
When everyone packs up for home this Sunday, video in all its many shapes, formats, and sizes may make the biggest impression. The year 2005 could mark the real liberation of video from a modest screen in the corner of the family room to moving pictures that truly move - anywhere, everywhere, whenever - in cars, on laptops and portable DVD players, on mobile phones and other hand-held devices. One vendor at CES is even showing special eyeglasses that display video into one eye while the other keeps aware of the viewer's surroundings, a kind of video iPod.
The maker of TiVo, the digital video recorder, has announced a new "TiVo to Go" system just in time for the Vegas extravaganza. This product lets television programs be transferred from a TV to laptops and hand-held devices for portable viewing. It's all about flexibility and mobility, as wireless technologies begin to allow video (and other data) to move easily and conveniently between devices.
A new computing platform called Sonoma, powered by Intel, promises to turn a laptop computer into a mobile media center, including high-definition audio.
Battles of titans, of course, will be waged. Microsoft and others from the world of computers are confronting Sony and others from the world of entertainment to see who will capture a consumer market that values not only faster and cooler, but also simple and reliable. Consumers who can't be bothered to set their VCR timer don't want to have to become their own technical support department every time they use a gadget.