Under the slogan "One Digital World" the teeming halls of the Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center are this week hosting the most impressive array of gadgets and gizmos in the world. These are some of the new devices that are attracting the most attention:
Phones: The size of digital devices continues to shrink at the same time as their power grows at an exponential rate. This means that devices the size of cell phones can now do more than fully fledged PC's did a few years ago. Last year the novelty phones doubled as video cameras. This year, Sony and Samsung have cell phone/cameras that display 1.33 megapixels. More importantly they also serve as message centers, newscasters, word processors, MP3 players, and even DVD players. The implication is clear: Pretty soon almost anything that you can do on a PC, TV, camera or music player, you will be able to do on your phone.
Digital televisions: Slim, stylish and with spectacular pictures, digital televisions are blasting images from every available wall space. More like computer monitors than traditional analog TVs these devices use digital data to provide pictures that are brighter and sharper than anything seen in the past. Sales in the sector boomed 41 percent in the past year, even though prices are still high, ranging from US$4,000 and up. If money is no object Samsung has a US$70,000 set that is the largest in production at 80 inches.
Sony also made waves with its "location free wireless TV," a small device with a 12-inch touch screen that connects to a wireless home network and allows Internet access, e-mail and TV viewing without any cables.
Digital music players: The Apple iPod remains the pick of the bunch and thanks to a groundbreaking deal with technology giant HP is set to increase its lead even further. HP will start selling its own branded iPod, as well as loading all of its computers with Apple's iTunes software. This means that Apple, whose computers account for only 3 percent of the PC market, suddenly has an inside track with the world's second largest computer maker.
Games: The new consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are not due out till next year at the earliest. But a new device from Apex, which until now has carved out a niche as a maker of low-cost DVD players, is worth taking a look at. The US$399 Apextreme is a purpose built high-end gaming PC that hooks up to a television instead of a computer monitor to allow PC games to play on a large screen, and at a fraction of the price it would cost to get a regular high end PC and graphics card.
Networking: Japanese electronics giant Panasonic surprised observers by showing off a nifty new networking technology that shuttles data around the home or office at a blistering 170 megabits per second. It's not wireless, but who cares when all you have to do is plug in an adapter to a wall outlet. The adapter converts data into a format that can be carried over standard power lines and is fast enough to send multiple streams of high-definition video to every room in the home.
Car stereos: This might seem an odd niche to be raving about, but some of the most spectacular sights at the massive show are custom cars fitted out as mobile sound and entertainment systems. There's a massive Hummer H2 with speakers the size of most other cars and no less than five livingroom-size LCD televisions. If that doesn't grab you how, about a tricked out VW Beetle with headlights converted into fishbowls.