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InFocus, ViewSonic and DivX at CES

A pre-show warm-up provided a muted introduction before the overwhelming torrent of new gadgets tomorrow, but Crave's eagle eye spotted a few choice audio-visual offerings

If some sort of natural disaster were to hit Las Vegas right now, the gadget world would cease to exist. The entire industry has descended on the notorious American Mecca for consumer capitalism, and Crave is over here right now taking HR-violating levels of sleep, avoiding the gaudy excesses of the Las Vegas strip, and partying with the mighty gods of CNET America. We've also been glancing a keen eye over the first day's offerings so that you can see what you'll probably be buying over the next twelve months.

The new InFocus IN76 was easily the highlight of Crave's first day in Las Vegas. We've openly coveted the company's projectors for some time, and with the IN76's combination of high-definition compatibility and a low retail price, our infatuation looks set to continue. Even in the bright lights of the convention hall, the projector did high-definition Xbox 360 full justice. We were first in the queue to play Project Gotham Racing 3 on a 50-inch screen, ironically racing around the Las Vegas track and taking in the same gaudy sights we'd seen on the way to the show.

A couple of other showings tickled our fancy. ViewSonic looks to be cementing its reputation as the penny-saving AV fan's best friend, with brand-new LCD TVs and projectors hitting rock-bottom prices. While home-cinema fans will turn their noses up at the ViewSonic PJ1060, the tiny palm-sized projector is a great business accessory. Not only can it run off a battery, but the SD slot means you can save your presentations to portable media and cut out the need for a laptop completely.

We were also pleased to see DivX Video branching out into new areas. DivX allows high-quality video to be squeezed down to tiny file sizes, meaning you can fit a full movie onto a CD. The new Pentax S6 is the first camera to record to DivX, and the 6-megapixel camera will record 25 minutes of video to a 512MB memory card. You can then pop the SD card out and stick it straight into a portable media player, and if mainstream DVD players start to include similar slots, we could be looking at one of the easiest ways to transfer home movies taken on a camera.

Make sure you check Crave tomorrow for updates on all the big news from CES, including Bill Gates' keynote speech. -GC

Visit our CES 2006 Special Report for more coverage.