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Backstage Crew: Day one: Johnathan

Monday was opening day at CES 2007, and Backstage Crew member Jonathan Kehoe is roaming the halls to find the most interesting gear.

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CNET Reviews staff
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1 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
The buzzwords at CES this year seem to be integration and automation. All well and good except that every single manufacturer seems to think it should be the central hub for your digital universe--I don't want to record TV shows and surf the Internet on my toaster. HP offered several examples, including this all-in-one model, which is both sleek and awkward at the same time, kind of like a less sexy Paget Brewster.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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2 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
I have firsthand positive experience with the entry-level Harmony remotes. Logitech's looking for the Harmony to replace some of the higher-end universal remotes that your fancy home theater installers are so obsessed with. I have yet to find a good high-end remote--none of them put together a good, quick channel change or a TiVo command worth a darn.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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3 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
1080p. 1080p. 1080p. Apparently there are going to be some big-screen 1080p televisions available this year. Westinghouse has a bunch; they're affordable, and the picture is much better than a Polaroid. If you're on a budget and can avoid looking at any of the other TVs in the store, these are the ones for you.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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4 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
OK, my sister is a professional photographer, and she likes Canon. I like Canon. I like Nikon. Pentax...eh. But you know what, the K10d--with a list price under $1,000, shake reduction, and absurdly fast shutter speed--is one heck of a camera. With 10 megapixels (you photo peeps know that lens quality is more important), this camera will take some great shots. It also has built-in dust removal and an add-on grip that holds an extra battery and SD card in a watertight slot. The only thing missing for the prosumers that this camera is designed for: the lack of a live LCD display.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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5 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
Ever wonder what Supermodel Kathy Ireland rests her flat-panel TV on? Me either. That said, if the main problem with your home theater is the fact that your TV cost $2,000 and your AV rack only cost $500, then CES has what you need. I'm actually a fan of nice furniture, but if you have six grand left to spend on a rack after you've gotten all of your tech stuff, then you either make too much money or you bought the wrong stuff--not that I could blame you; that sub-$2,000 Vizio 47 inch 1080p is a pretty good deal.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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6 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
Afraid your 60-inch plasma overpowers the room? Perhaps a giant, screen-printed Picasso would be more subtle. I ordered one with some dogs playing poker--too bad they're back ordered.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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7 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
Everybody and their brother has projectors this year. Sharp has a beautiful and remarkably silent one, and InFocus has some good stuff, but what really struck me was a new model from the normally adequate Optoma. With a scheduled release of April, the company's update of the H80 model features 1080p, 2,500 lumens (meaning you might actually be able to see it in a lit room), and an add-on lens with automatic wide-screen mode. This means no expensive add-on from Cinewide and no black bars. I saw a crisp picture on a 180-inch screen, and the price will likely be under $14,000 for both the projector and the widescreen lens.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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8 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
So I started my day in one of the secondary rooms, thinking maybe I'd find that unknown brand that was making kick-butt TVs on a budget, and I would break this whole flat-panel thing wide open. The truth is, there are a lot of mediocre flat panels, and there are a lot of pretty good flat panels, but it was the usual suspects that seemed to offer something more this year. LG showed off a 100-inch 1080p LCD and a 102-inch 1080p plasma. Panasonic's 108-incher and Samsung's 100-inchers all get the beautiful silliness award. LG did, however, sport a remarkable amount of high-quality 1080p sets in both LCD and plasma that may one day soon be affordable to the masses.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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9 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
I like Samsung. They make good, pretty televisions at a good price. This year the company is upping the ante. 1080p is a given. Samsung has also increased refresh speed to 120 Hz (as have a number of other companies), which all but eliminates motion blur. Samsung continues to offer inputs in numerous places on its flat panels, which is great for installation. However, the company also wants to be the central hub in my digital universe. Hasn't anyone heard of a server?
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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10 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
Oh, Polaroid. Who would have thought mediocrity could be so affordable.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by
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11 of 11 Jonathan Kehoe/CNET Networks
Sharp did the right thing this year by copying Samsung's lovely, glossy black bezels. The company continues to offer some of the nicest LCD televisions around and has added several models this year targeted directly at gamers. And though this photo does it little justice, those games look real good.
Canon
Backstage Crew photos taken with a Canon PowerShot SD30 Digital Elph and made possible by

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