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Thu, Jan 05, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Gadget heaven opens at this year's CES

TECHNOLOGY ON DISPLAY Companies will be eager to showcase all their latest products as the world's biggest electronics show gets under way today in Las Vegas

AP , LAS VEGAS

Gary Miller, a carpenter working to set up the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, takes a break on Tuesday. The show opens today.

PHOTO: EPA

Flat-panel televisions with built-in digital video recorders. Pocket satellite radio receivers that can bookmark songs for online purchase. High-definition TVs engineered to play video or display photos from any computer on your home network.

The new offerings from LG Electronics Inc, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co are just a tiny sampling from this year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual showcase of technologies soon to hit the market.

Cameras, MP3 players, DVD recorders, giant plasma screens and accessories for all the above -- you name it and, chances are, it will be on display at the Sin City convention center turned electronics mecca.

Portable gadgets will be even smaller but more powerful. Laptops will boast longer battery lives. TVs will be bigger and sharper, but cheaper. And many devices will have the ability to connect to the Internet, a home computer network, or to each other -- with more ease than before.

In the home appliance arena, Samsung Electronics Co will show a refrigerator with four convertible compartments that can switch between being a freezer or a fridge, depending on the user's needs. LG will debut a washer and dryer system that lets users monitor the laundry cycle from a small remote control.

Satellite radio, climbing in popularity, will become more accessible as a growing number of portable and home devices -- such as LG's new five-disc DVD player -- have the feature built-in.

Digital music players from Samsung and Pioneer Corp will not only play live XM radio but also integrate the Napster music download and subscription service, so users can "bookmark" songs heard on XM for online purchase from Napster.

"We've seen millions of MP3 players sold and millions of satellite radio products sold. Now we're marrying them together and will hopefully create a new market," said Chance Patterson, spokesman for XM Satellite.

Portable multimedia players, which first hit the market a few years ago, are enjoying a renewed buzz this year, assured the attention by the debut of Apple's video-playing iPod and recent deals that have made TV shows available for sale online.

LG will introduce its first portable media center, the PM70, with a 4.3-inch screen and 30 gigabytes of storage, enough for 50 hours of video or 7,500 songs.

"More content availability is what's driving the demand for these things," said Tim Alessi, an LG product development director.

HP is promising its most comprehensive lineup of digital entertainment products yet.

For this year, the computer and printer maker will unveil seven ultra-compact digital cameras, ranging in price from US$119 to US$299.

It also is introducing nine high-definition TVs, including an innovative 37-inch LCD TV that can access other digital media from any computer on a home network.

Without the need for a separate device, the television will automatically connect to a home network so users can switch from watching TV to grabbing music, photos or video from any of their networked computers.

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