CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW: CNET editors cover the Next Big Thing
Photo printers, flat panels with
TV tuners, and more
By Elsa Wenzel
(December 15, 2004)
We aren't holding our breath for jaw-dropping peripherals news at the world's largest electronics trade show. The product unveilings at CES 2005 are unlikely to revolutionize the gadgets you use to print or scan photos, work, play games, and cruise the Internet. Instead, products are adapting gradually to match users' demands for mobility and usability.
Look out for a boost in features, such as printers that ship with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Control-panel displays will get bigger and more colorful to support standalone features. Watch out for streamlined designs, such as photo printers to fit inside your camera bag, and shrinking office machines to free up desk space. Monitors are likely to get wider but flatter, as makers tailor their displays to craft better LCD eye candy for gamers and to turn home computers into entertainment hubs.
Printer makers are heeding consumer demands for portable, easy-to-use home or traveling photo printers, cheaper laser printers, and more-versatile multifunctions. Expect to see more photo-friendly printers with built-in digital media-card readers and PictBridge slots. You may see more portable camera peripherals, such as snapshot printers and PVP and MP3 devices that support photo and video storage and display.
Larger, full-color and backlit LCDs on printers will help you crop and edit images before you print them. These LCDs will enable all-in-one machines to include more standalone features so that you can print, copy, scan, or fax without using a computer.
There's no escape in sight from the high cost of inkjet refills, but you might find improved color laser printers that rival inkjets for color graphics printing, with cheaper upkeep. Laser printers will continue to ship with features that were once expensive add-ons, such as built-in duplexing and wireless networkability.
We anticipate built-in 802.11b/g and Bluetooth connectivity to become more common in printers, even those that produce photos, to serve laptop-toting workers and home networkers.
As technology improves, more companies will be selling LCDs with better image quality and pushing them as CRT replacements. More LCDs will include multimedia capabilities, as well. Many will be tuner ready, while others will start incorporating tuners out of the box, including those for HDTV. As they push LCDs for gaming and video use, display makers will pitch faster pixel-response times.
Port options will also improve to enable component- and composite-video inputs, such as DVD players and camcorders. We expect to see lower prices and more setups that allow you to use your home computer as a home entertainment system, though not yet the primary one.
More PC speakers might be sold as game console compatible out of the box. Klipsch and Creative may compete with Logitech, which holds the title for best gaming speakers.
Keyboards and mice
More input devices will double as remote controls for your PC, such as Logitech's MediaPlay Mouse. We may see more wireless input devices with streamlined IR receivers and possibly more Bluetooth, as well.
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