Like a good political campaign manager, product managers and public relations specialists like to keep press events "on message." So you can imagine the chagrin of the good folks at Philips when the product that most enthralled me at their Times Square line show today wasn't their Blu-ray player, wall-mountable home theater in a box, cordless Skype phones, or Portable Media Center. Sure, they were all cool, but the undiscovered gem of the Philips line--the thing I couldn't wait to run out and buy--was a set of retractable A/V cables.
Of course, everyone's seen similar PC accessory retractables for business travel--phone lines, Ethernet cables, USB cables--but this was the first time I'd seen them in an A/V context. There were two versions: the DVDP01 ($15) is targeted at portable DVD players--3.5mm miniplugs on one end, standard RCA A/V plugs on the other--while the $13 DVDP07 offers just the red, white, and yellow RCA plugs on both ends. Even if you're not taking gear on the road, these self-retracting cables seem like a great idea for anyone (like me) with a couple of drawers full of tangled cables. No, they're not the next iPod, but they're useful and cheap--a combination that's all too rare in the realm of consumer electronics.