• CES 2006 report

Hey folks Valkor here. Let me welcome everyone to the new TOV. TOV is always evolving and now you get to see the next incarnation of what two years in the biz will do. Will this stick? Probably not but right now we LOVE it compared to how it once looked. I’m not saying the old site sucked, but this new site is kickin our ass. So with a new site we bring forth a little something special in the form of CES 2006. TOV converged on Las Vegas once again to see what the electronic industry has to offer and we always bring back gold. Was it the BEST show? Sadly no, but it was still pretty damn good and I wasn’t expecting too much in terms of mind blowing, but what I did see was definitely a feast for the eyes and ears, plus some of the big guns pulled out there best and came up smellin like a rose. I had the chance to stop by many booths and what you will read here now are the booths that I actually stopped by and stayed for awhile. There were others that I didn’t mention; they will get separate reports all by their lonesomes. I also must note that I could have seen more, but I had only two days and I had to get in as much as possible. So without further pause, let’s get on with the show.

Creative (Impressive)

There’s no questioning my love for Creative. I own the Zen Micro, the Val-cave’s main computer’s sound system is powered by the Audigy and now they have this new soundcard called the X-FI. Mind you I thought Creative couldn’t get any better than Audigy and then they pull this out their hat and blow me away again! The key word is immersion! The new X-FI (Which stands for Xtreme Fidelity) really brings out the sounds in your music, movies, and games. They were demonstrating the card with a pair f noise canceling head phones and I cannot believe that Creative could bring out such sounds in headphones. I’m not sure if it matters what headphones you use with the card, however look for a thorough Val-cave testing when I receive it, which should be soon. Want more? How about this, the X-FI will remaster all your downloaded music and movies, so if you think they sound great now, wait till you hear them in X-FI form. So far I am impressed with the card and I will get one for sure, so stay tuned. Oh ya before I forget, the X-FI comes in an assortment of flavors such as the X-FI Fatality, X-FI Platinum, and the X-FI Xtreme Music. Also from Creative is the Zen Vision… one of the WORSE media players out on the market. OK that’s a bit harsh because there is only one aspect to this 30 gig wonder that really kills it and that’s the lackluster screen. If you tilt the screen even a tad bit to the left or right, you lose screen quality, forcing you to watch it face forward, not even at an angle. My PSP gives you 180 degrees before there is a loss of quality and I have seen other players that can do the same. Also the videos they were showing off weren’t the most impressive. Music sounds great, pictures look great, video… well needs work. However to win themselves back in my graces comes the Zen Vision M, which goes up directly against the Ipod Video. If I had to choose between the Ipod video and the Zen M, I would definitely choose the Zen, which has a much better picture quality tan it’s big brother? Is it possible? Yes, yes it is. Not only is the quality better, but it gives you more of a viewing angle than the bigger Zen before image degradation occur. Sound quality is also great, but then it’s Creative. How can they do sound wrong right?

Truly (Could be better)

This was actually the first booth I came across as I stepped onto the showroom floor. I have never heard of the company before so I thought I would go over and see what they had to offer. What they were showing was a media player called the Pic ‘N Roll. Three different versions actually. The first two I tried out was the MP313X and the MP310+. They’re both pretty much the same (1 gig built in, multiple sound support, FM radio, voice recorder), except the Mp313X can use SD/MMC cards for additional storage. Right away the devices I’m scrolling the menus, music, and games with ease. (Yep these little guys have games in em, nothing special but good time killers.) However the sound quality was a bit on the bleh side. I’ve seen smaller generic media players with way better sounds than this. “Truly” you need to go back to the drawing boards with this one. It’s great because you can start playing with these devices without reading any instructions, but it sucks when the sound quality “Truly” sucks. Truly also has an HD900 model which does video and rather nicely, however the sound issue plagues this one too. So not a bad start out the box, but don’t expect to finish even place until we fix the sound ish.

SanDisk (can’t lose)

Who out there doesn’t know about SanDisk products, show of hands? Anyone who uses any type of portable media should know the name all to well. They’ve been giving us chips that store our images, music, and movies. When they first started hitting the market, I was impressed and I didn’t care about how much space one chip had on it because I was still getting over the fact that I had a 4 gig hard drive in my PC. Now scandisk is coming out with two types of 4 gig High Content cards and mini cards. If there was ever a reason to get rid of that film camera and invest in a digital one, NOW is the time. Can you imagine a digital camera that had that much space for pictures and video? If digicams came with decent battery life we would all be in digital picture heaven. For now we will lug around our charges, but we’ll be happy with the fact that our storage is still going strong for more. Now I wanna touch on this micro series. These chips are literally small enough to fit on the tip of your finger. I’m not kidding, so I cannot imagine how it can store 4 gigs of memory on it. It’s something that I cannot comprehend and yet there it is. Or will be coming out soon anyway. And just so you know they don’t plan on stopping there. The scandisk people are working on a 32 gig version of the card. 32 GIGS!! That’s amazing! Simply amazing! Keep up the great work you folks at Sandisk, you’re doing one hell of a job.

Celluon (Awesome!!)

What if you can have a keyboard or mouse and use it at anytime or place without having to unload one from your bag and deal with plugging it in and having a surface to hold it all just so you can do your work? Well Celluon has the answer to that question in the form of Laser Key. The Laser key that can be used with any PC, PDA, smartphones or tablet PCs (so long as they all have bluetooth technology), projects an image of a QWERTY pad keyboard onto any hard surface and calculates what buttons your pressing by the placement of your fingers and the reflection off your fingernails. Now I thought something like this cannot be possible and yet here is the technology right before. Its way cool to be able to simply press against a projected image and see your words you type on the screen, however it wasn’t 100% responsive. I was especially having trouble with the spacebar, but I was told that it was because of the table they were using. Ok I’ll give them that much, the table was kind of bendy. However the rep told me that on any hard surface t would work great. We shall see ya? Oh one other thing, how much do you think one would pay for something like this? My guess would have been 500 easy. So imagine my surprise when the rep said 200 bucks! I’m like holy shit that’s cheap for something like this. Its not yet released in the states; only the UK and Europe, however TOV will be keeping our eyes open for this one.

Medis (Heart from the Start)

Sorry no pic available yet, but they still deserve mention.

Medis was showing off their entry into the power pack playing field. Everyone once in awhile gets caught with their mp3, PSP, cellphone, or laptop on low battery. Medis’s Power Pack solves that issue by giving you small, not too obtrusive power pack that you can connect to your portable device to give it a charge so you can use your device when you need it most. From what I was told by the rep, it’s just a big alkaline battery and once you’ve used up the power, you toss it away. It’s environmentally safe! On a conference call, while sitting in the airport, but you’re down to your last bar and your charger is in the bag… that you already checked? Top it up with the power pack! Playing your PSP and made it to the last level and about to face the final boss, but that little light starts to blink and you are without your power cord? Give it a boost with the Power Pack. Depending on the device you use with the Power Pack TOV will have hands on this device upon it’s release to get the real scoop.

Wowee Toys (Crazy stuff)

This has got to be one of the wackiest booths that I had the pleasure of visiting. You’ve seen the RoboRaptor, the Robosapien, Robopets, and the Alive Chimpanzee, then there isn’t really much to see. However they were fun to just stop by and play with all these neat interactive robots. And since I am a big lizard fan, I had to stop and toy with the Robo Raptor. Roboraptor, just as its namesake is a robotic Dinosaur. It walks, it growls, it swings it tails and if you make a sound it moves in that direction. It has touch sensors in it’s mouth, on it’s head and on it’s tail so if you touch those parts they will move. So now I know some of you may ask the question: What’s the RoboRaptor good for? Well if you had small nieces and nephews as I do, well think of all the evil fun you can have mentally warping those kids minds as the Raptor stalks them wherever they go because it follows their bloodcurdling screams… muahahahahaha. Aaaahhhhh Wowee Toys.

KINGWIN(Cases are Aces)

Since I’m still in the process of upgrading the Val-cave’s PCs, the look of the case definitely plays a major part. And it’s not just the look that’s important but how much can the case store to suit my needs. Enter KINGWIN and their wide variety of metal cases. The one that stood out the most was the SK-523 Series, especially the black with the red LED light. The SK-523 is a gamer cases that has the storage capacity to fit all your needs from cards to coling devices. It has 5 5.25” slots and 2 3.5” slots and 3 slots that are hidden, USB 2.0, mic and speaker outs at the front of the case. The side has a clear chassis so you can see inside at all your inner workings. KINGWIN also make Rack enclosures (kf25 series), Home Media Centers (Supernova SN-213ht), Power boxes, mobile racks, external enclosures, and liquid cooling systems. So if you’re in the market of building that new computer from scratch then make KINGWIN your number source for all your PC products.

Hannspree (I wants the Bat TV)

Now here’s an idea: Take some major labels like NBA, MLB, NFL, other popular cartoon characters and so on and wrap their form around an LCD TV, then you’ll have the basis for what Hannspree is all about. I gotta say I like the idea of having a television with popular labels on em. Makes it kewl for the youngins to have say their favorite sport on their monitor. However the one TV that caught my eye was the Batman TV. Krush gave me a heads up on it and since I am a fan of all things Batman, I sought out this elusive TV and I love it! All one piece, you have Batman in a heroic pose wrapped around an LCD TV. I was told by the rep that this was a limited edition and they sold on 30 of these units. Since it was limited this bad boy went for as much as 30,000 big ones. However the company was looking to make it cheaper, which would mean they would have to make it in pieces. Not very cost effective, but damnit I want one!!!

Digitrex (New Kid on the Block)

I met with the Digitrex people when I stopped over at Innovations at the Sands. They had a fun unit which contained an LCD, DVD, and Dolby speakers, running T3. Great if you have a small office and you wanna sit back and enjoy a flick. Visually, the LCD looked great. Audio wise, sound was great as explosions, gunfire, and vehicles shook the showroom floor. Ok maybe not the entire show floor, just in the immediate area of the booth. Keep your eyes open for this company as they have a slew of products such as TV’s, Digicam, and LCD’s.

Belkin (They’ve got yer wifi)

Nothing too much to say about Belkin, just keep up the great job. I love their wifi card and use one with my laptop. Hell as I writing this article I am connected using my Belkin. They have a host of wifi products; one I am looking forward to owning is a Pre-N card. The card I have is wireless G and N is coming soon. I hope really soon.

Cyberhome (Not much)

I stopped by Cyberhome’s booth last year and they seemed to have a bit more stuff than they did this year. Last year was all about the mini DVD players, amongst other DVD players. This year all they really had on display was a flip down LCD monitor for the kitchen (Space saver?) and a way past cool DVD player with divx capabilities, plus HDMI for all your HD needs. But that's pretty much it. Maybe '07, we'll see more?

Panasonic (Love their HD)

It would seem that most all major players like Samsung, Sony, LG, and such had a, so called, “World’s Largest” whatever TV, Panasonic being no exception to this rule. They had the World’s Largest, Full HD Plasma. And it did look mad impressive. I think LCD and DLP’s are better, but I am not one to judge. All I want is to see one of these babies play a serious movie. Blue Ray players also mad a showing at the booth as well as a host of other products. Personally I just liked the TV screen wall. (pic below).

Sony (Saving the Best For Last?)

Last year I made it my number one priority to visit the Sony booth. Ok last year they didn’t have a booth, they had their own area. This year however I spotted them right away on the main floor, with an impressive booth. On hand they were showing off much of what they showed last year, including Blue Ray Demos. However this year we finally got a serious PSP representation as you can now play some demos. Also there were a slew of DVD and LCD televisions. But what caught everyone’s attention was the PS3 demo, which featured some actual in game footage. The show stopper was the Metal Gear Solid 4 demo. I was one of many who waited through the cycle of vids just to see the next installment of Snake and I was not disappointed. If going by these demo vids is any indication of the power of PS3 then this spring (or whenever the PS3 will be released) will be most interesting. Personally I am holding off on getting an Xbox 360 in favor of the PS3, again that is just my preference. However I also believe that the PS3 will be the deciding factor in the HD-DVD/ Blue Ray War, because much like Playstation paved the way for CD gaming (I know others did it before, but Playstation did it successfully), Playstation 3 will pave the way for Hi-Def gaming. Although it still remains to be seen just who will come out ahead, I am placing my bets now on Sony.

Overall, my friends, this year was a very good year and I apologize that I didn’t get to mention many of the booths that I did get a chance to stop by and visit. But the one thing that made this show so eventful was the fact that everything was more spread out. Having Innovations at the Sands, who ever thought of that deserves a bonus. Why? Because we can keep focus of the current players and then travel to a new section to see some kewl technology. Plus, and this is a huge plus, the main show floor wasn’t too crowded that you had to squeeze by so many people. Last year was mad cramped, and didn’t lessen until the last day. Getting around was also much easier than last year, because everyone was more coordinated. Not that last year was rough but it was good to see the drivers of the shuttle talk with people and giving them proper information on where to go and where they need to be. Finally to all the booth reps, specifically from Samsung, Iwave, Dolby, Philips, LG, Freeplay, Vector, Hannspree, and Belkin, GREAT job you guys for being most patient, answering my questions, and giving me all the details I needed. This is what truly made this show a great one and I can’t wait to do it again in ’07.