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Published: Friday, 1/9/2009

Cool stuff meets monstrous TVs at CES in Vegas


LAS VEGAS -- Blade Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird is at the Consumer Electronics Show where technology giants show off their new gizmos, some of which will no doubt be showing up in your living room sometime soon. He'll be blogging from the show Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Perhaps the coolest thing on display at CES is LG Electronic s 3G Touch Watch Phone. The Dick Tracy-like device features a full touchscreen, video calling, and voice recognition. The Touch Watch Phone is water resistant, features multiple faces for the phone and watch, offers text-to-speech when texting, and comes with a tiny video camera installed for video calling. It also offers touch-screen calling, voice recognition and is Blue-Tooth 2.1. All this, and it s fashionable to boot. Alas, Europeans will be the first to try out the phone in the second half of this year, with no date yet set for a North American release. Oh, and the price is TBD, too.

The PS2 goes PSP courtesy of Audiovox, which showed off a drop-down mounted kit that allows gamers to install a PS2 the newer, sleeker model into a car. No release date or price yet, but it s something to look out for especially for dedicated gamers and God of War enthusiasts.

Something I m going to write about in the future is HD radio. Yes, radio has gone high definition, too, but there s no digital transition to worry about. HD radio essentially makes FM transmissions digital. And, just like digital TV allows network affiliates to air more local content on subchannels, HD radio does the same thing for radio stations. So, for example, an HD radio station can provide listeners a substation that provides continuous traffic updates, in addition to its main station that broadcasts music.

Nine Toledo stations are broadcasting in HD radio so far, including three WVKS-FM, 91.5, WRVF-FM, 101.5, and WIOT-FM, 104.7 -- that each offer a substation (92.5-2, 101.5-2, and 104.7-2, respectively). Presumably more radio stations will follow this trend. HD radio is cheaper than satellite radio an HD radio-enabled car stereo can be had for $99, and there s no monthly subscription service and its sound quality can be as good perhaps even better than satellite radio. With all the focus on HDTV, though, little is mentioned about its radio counterpart.

The 150-inch plasma is just right if you have piles of cash lying around and you want to bring true home theater into your living room. The 150-inch plasma is just right if you have piles of cash lying around and you want to bring true home theater into your living room.
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I stopped by Panasonic s booth again to take a gander at the 150-inch plasma TV the world s biggest. I saw a crowd of people watching a soccer game on a HUGE plasma. This must be it, I thought. Wrong. It was ONLY a 103-inch plasma. So I snaked through the crowded booth further and found the holy grail of plasma TVs the 150-inch beauty itself.

Panasonic had the set on display along with some smaller sets, e.g., the normal 40-50-60-inch varieties that 99 percent of plasma owners buy. The picture on the 150-inch monstrosity wasn t as sharp as its miniscule cousins, but it was close enough so that someone wouldn t feel cheated by paying a small fortune to have a mini theater in his home. Panasonic didn t say when the sets will be available if ever and for how much. The 103-inch plasma, while significantly smaller, had a better picture, so if I had an extra $10,000-$20,000 laying around and really, who doesn t? I d go with the 103 model.

If LG Electronic s 3G Touch Watch Phone was the coolest thing I saw at CES, the oddest was at Intel s booth to promote its core i7 chip. The display featured a DJ, which is fine, but the visual entertainment was two company spokesmodels, one of whom appeared middle-aged, who were dancing in place. Well, dancing is being kind it was more like waving arms in a jerky, distracting manner. And next to them was a sign that read, New levels of brilliant performance.



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