With HDTV quickly picking up steam, we expect to see a wide range of new TV displays in all flavors of technology, including LCD, plasma, DLP, and good ol' CRT
. As the battle between plasma and LCD flat panels heats up, you'll see manufacturers trotting out larger and larger displays. LG has unveiled a 76-inch plasma prototype, and Samsung will be showing off a 57-inch LCD TV prototype. However, what we're really interested in is how far prices for 42-inch plasmas and 30-inch LCDs will fall and the improvements manufacturers will make to DLP and LCD rear-projection sets, which showed promise in 2003. Also, expect to see more sets with built-in HD tuners; the FCC has set a July 2004 deadline for 50 percent of 36-inch or larger TVs to include them. Check out CNET's HDTV World
for a full, up-to-date overview of where things stand with high-definition TV.
| | Motorola's high-definition DVR | |
TiVo and TiVo-like DVRs (digital video recorders) and DVD recorders were popular with CNET readers in 2003, and with prices dropping for both, these VCR killers are poised to go mainstream this year. Cable companies and satellite providers are jumping in with their own "free" DVRs (you pay a small monthly fee for the accompanying service), so we'll see what TiVo
have to offer in response. We know TiVo and Dish Network have high-definition versions of their respective DVRs in the works; also on their way are DVD recorders that can burn to dual-layer discs for even higher capacity. Personal media players in all shapes and sizes
As Dell, Gateway, Rio, Samsung, and others take their cracks at trying to steal some sales away from Apple in the hard drive-based MP3 player arena, we'll get a look at a whole new wave of portable digital music products. Toshiba is announcing a high-capacity mini hard drive that's about the same diameter as a quarter, which will allow manufacturers to make even smaller hard drive players with lots of storage. Plus, the early word says we may also get a peek at the next generation of Archos and Philips personal video recorder/players. SPOT and Bluetooth wireless devices
After announcing its Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) initiative at last year's show, Microsoft and its hardware partners Fossil and Suunto will officially launch four smart watches that will receive personalized information tidbits via the MSN Direct service. Also, Bluetooth, after many fits and starts, may finally be ready to get over the hump. The early word is that several new devices, including cable-free surround speakers, will be introduced that incorporate the short-range wireless technology.
Wireless digital media servers
| || | Prismiq's media recorder
You have music and images on your computer, and companies figure there's money in helping you bring all that content into your living room--in many cases, wirelessly. That go-between device is called a digital media server
; it enables not only MP3 playback through your stereo but also digital photo and video playback on your TV. We said they'd be hot in 2003--and they have been with early adopters. But expect even more consumer-friendly products to be unveiled at this year's show, including additional networked DVD players and even A/V receivers that can tap into your home network.
| | Infinity TAS1000 home-theater system | |
For better or worse, the average consumer apparently doesn't want to think too hard when putting together a home-theater system, so manufacturers are trying to make it as simple as possible. JBL, for example, will announce a setup that includes both a plasma TV and a surround system. And Infinity, the venerable speaker company, is actually going to do its very own home theater in a box
; just don't expect to see it selling for $149 at Wal-Mart.