Portable media in review at CES 2010

Senior Editor Donald Bell wraps up the significant portable audio and video tech discoveries from CES 2010.

There were a number of hot trends at this years CES, such as 3D televisions, Internet-connected cars, tablets, e-book readers, and Netbooks. Unfortunately, I don't cover any of that technology.

I cover portable media players, and for the most part, CES offered slim pickings. Last year, we had Sony's X-Series Walkman unveiling, a hands-on with the long-awaited Samsung P3, and a grab bag of PMP announcements from Iriver. This year, Sony was mum on the Walkman, Samsung's MP3 players seemed desperately gimmicky , and Iriver's lone PMP announcement came with scant details.

Truth be told, I was hardly surprised by what I saw. It was what I didn't see that made me feel uneasy. Going into CES, my preshow predictions promised Android-powered PMPs and all kinds of interesting fusions between iPod accessories and custom-built apps. Well, I was wrong.

Sure, there were dozens of Android-powered touch-screen devices out there, but in the looming shadow of Apple's late-January announcement, manufacturers are more focused than ever on positioning these kinds of products as tablets. So be it.

As far as app-integrated iPod Touch and iPhone accessories went, iLuv limped out a speaker dock with an alarm clock app, iHome announced its iHome+Sleep app, and Blue Microphones showed off a lite version of the FiRe audio recorder app designed for use with their revamped Mikey microphone accessory . Neat stuff, but hardly Earth-shattering.

That said, one product we saw that really did break new ground with a combination of app and hardware is the Tivit , a pocket receiver that takes digital television signals and shoots them to your iPod Touch or iPhone (or other smartphone) via Wi-Fi. The associated Tivit app acts as a channel guide and makes the set-up and device pairing fairly seamless. We thought it was so cool, in fact, that we bestowed it with a CNET Best of CES award for the portable media category.

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One unexpected treat during the week was Microsoft's announcement that its Zune HD will soon support XviD video playback and Smart DJ playlist creation. It's unfortunate that the announcement got a little lost in the deluge of other CES news, but I'm sure the devoted Zune owners of the world perked their ears up a little.

MP3 Insider podcast cohort Jasmine France kept herself busy with a number of headphone announcements, including a new Adidas line from Sennheiser, noise-canceling in-ear headphones from Sony, and a new P Diddy-branded line from Monster with the unfortunate name of Diddy Beats . Also, we found out that your bicycle helmet is going to get a whole lot louder .

Jasmine was also nice enough to put together a slideshow of her favorite products from CES, which plays like a visual Tigger to my editorial Eeyore.

 

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