Our winner in the car tech category was Dash Navigation's Dash Express, which takes GPS navigation to the next level. With its two-way connectivity--giving it access to other Dash units--as well as its preprogrammed, historic traffic-flow data, Dash Express has the potential to provide drivers with real real-time traffic information. Its Yahoo Local search gives drivers access to a points-of-interest database as big as the Web itself, and Dash throws in neat features such as the ability to search for gas stations by fuel price and for movie theaters by showtime.
You can't escape it. From the gigantic Windows Vista banner we saw at the airport minutes after landing in Las Vegas, to every hardware vendor talking about its plans to incorporate Vista in upcoming models, Microsoft's long-awaited OS is everywhere this week. Why does it belong in our computers and hardware category? New systems announced at the show, such as the HP TouchSmart all-in-one PC and the Asus SideShow laptop, provide a glimpse of what Vista will offer.
Powercast could forever change the way we interact with our handheld gadgets. Powercast uses the energy from a transmitted RF signal to power small, battery-operated devices--cell phones, wireless PC peripherals, and hearing aids may never go dead again. The transmitter can be placed in anything that plugs into the wall (lamps, alarm clocks, and so on) and can send a low, continuous signal to small gadgets that contain an embedded receiver. Charging batteries may never be necessary again.
Wireless connectivity isn't a brand-new feature for MP3 players (hello, Zune and Apple iPhone), but SanDisk takes connectivity in a different direction by allowing users to hop onto any open Wi-Fi connection to trade and to recommend songs from any distance. The Sansa Connect also offers a sleek design; a fun, user-friendly interface; and access to streaming Internet radio.
Samsung's wireless TV, the first of its kind, comes with a separate base station that accepts connections from A/V gear and wirelessly transmits to the 58-inch plasma panel via 802.11n at a range of up to 300 feet. That means fewer holes in the wall and maybe even a plasma by the pool.
CNET users like you voted for our People's Voice Award. In a last-minute flurry of votes, Microsoft Sync--a partnership between Ford and Microsoft--pulled into the lead. A factory-installed tech panacea, Sync will ship on 12 of Ford's 2008 cars and on the entire 2009 fleet. The flash-based system lets drivers call hands-free (12 phones work with the always-on Bluetooth connection) and control MP3 players via voice commands and buttons mounted on the steering wheel.