Wrapping Up CES: Blu-ray, Cameras And More
LAS VEGAS -- Another Consumer Electronics Show is in the books for me. As I head home, a few more thoughts on the things I've seen here this week:
* Blu-ray players didn't have as much of a presence as I'd thought, and they don't seem to be getting much cheaper. We're probably looking at $250 to $300 list prices for the next few months, and maybe longer.
We should, however, see a broader variety of Blu-ray hardware. Some manufacturers, such as Haier and Sharp, plan to ship HDTVs with built-in Blu-ray players. Samsung showed off a soundbar surround-sound speaker that incorporated a Blu-ray player. And Panasonic demonstrated a portable Blu-ray player and what may be the weirdest fusion of old and new technology I've seen in a while: a combination Blu-ray player and VCR.
Once again, Blu-ray recorders were nowhere to be found. That can't be because of technological difficulty: Hitachi was showing off a $1,099 Blu-ray camcorder at its booth.
* Many of the new digital cameras on display here can also record high-definition video (though it's unclear if the results will look better than the blurry, jittery footage I shot with two HD-capable cameras last spring). They're also getting better at thinking ahead of the photographer; for example, some Nikon and Sony cameras can automatically pick the right scene mode -- macro, portrait, nighttime, etc. -- based on what they detect in the frame.
WiFi is becoming more common as well, showing up in models from Casio, Nikon and Sony. But we may have to wait longer to see cameras with GPS; Samsung, for example, won't have any models with that feature until the second half of this year.
* The vast halls of the convention center here offered obvious evidence of the lousy economy, in the form of empty spaces that were filled with exhibitors in previous years. And these gaps weren't just at the edges of each hall, but right in the middle -- presumably, because the vendors involved opted not to show up after reserving their space. One major exhibitor from earlier CES conventions, Philips, is bailing out of the electronics industry and so abandoned its usual spot. If these trends continue -- let me phrase this as positively as possible -- next year's CES might be a good deal easier to cover.
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