CES 2007: Dear Diary…Hump Day Part One

It’s finally Wednesday, January 10. It’s my last day of meetings. Seven of them in a row starting bright and early with Akimbo and their CEO who’s named same as me. Put simply, Akimbo is a content provider. They deliver Web-based video to TVs. They’re not trying to replace broadcast, satellite, or cable TV, but offer options that are more tailored for your personal interests.

The box pictured above is the new offering from RCA that just connects to your TV and the Internet through built-in Ethernet or wirelessly with an optional adapter. Once connected (and for a small $9.99/month charge) you get access to the “Free For All” content package, which is quite a lot, and there’s also premium content that’ll cost you more, such as movie downloads. The RCA box does have an 80GB hard drive in it for storing content to view whenever you want, too.

The goal though for Akimbo is to make the content available to as many devices as possible. For starters, you can get Akimbo for Media Center that works on computers running Windows XP Media Center Edition. Subscribers to AT&T’s HomeZone service can now access the content through their Internet connected set-top box. And finally, and definitely one of the coolest things I saw at CES, they’ve partnered with SanDisk on the upcoming USBTV product. Josh let me record a commercial for the product, but basically it’s a Flash drive that you store video content on from your PC and then pop into a base station connected to your TV. Here’s the video of it in action.


Next up is a booth tour of Philips. I’ll keep this short.

As usual, the Philips products feature a lot of style. Here are the newest Ambilight LCDs (42, 47 and 52 inches). They’ve switched to using LEDs for the light source. Brighter, more consistent and longer lasting light. And as you can see, the LCDs have good viewing angles.

Don’t want Ambilight or an LCD and want something bigger than 52 inches? Go with the Philips 63-inch Plasma.

This is the $999 Ambisound HTS8100. Virtual surround sound, plus a subwoofer. There’s also a built-in DVD player in the center of the speaker. You can kind of make out the panel in this picture. But there’s an “open” button on top of the speaker. Press it and the door slides open.

The subwoofer.

Two new wireless Internet-streaming audio systems: The WACS3500 ($399) and the WAS5000 ($499). They’re not on the company’s consumer site yet, since they aren’t expected till later this year, but you can get more details on them at the press site.

And with all the stuff they showed me, the DCP750 portable media player thrilled me the most. It has a 7-inch swivel color LCD, plays DVDs, DVD+/-R and DVD+/-RW as well as SVCD and VCDs, DivX and MPEG4 movies. There’s an SD card slot, too. Oh, and I almost forgot, it’ll hold, charge and play an iPod, so you can watch whatever, wherever. All this for only an MSRP of $149, so it’ll probably street for $20 to $30 less than that. What can I say? Sometimes I’m just easy to impress.

It’s now 11 a.m. and a quick meeting with Fujifilm that is showcasing the 8-MegaPixel FinePix F40fd (pictured) with Fujifilm’s Face Detection Technology, and the 8-MegaPixel FinePix A800 and 6-MegaPixel A610. This was the first time I saw the face detection in action and, well, it works. The camera is able to pick out faces and lets you zero in on whichever you want. Great for group events where you don’t want to focus on the whole group. Weddings, birthday parties, etc.

However, the feature that really caught me was this: The FinePix F40fd, A800 and A610 will feature an xD-Picture Card/SD Media Card compatible slot. So while they haven’t abandoned xD, they’ve at least realized people might want to be able to use a single SD card for multiple purposes. Or if you upgrade to a new Fuji camera, you don’t have to immediately ditch the SD card from your old shooter.