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After hundreds of gadget unveilings and technical demonstrations galore, CES 2008 last week closed its doors for another year. Windows Middle East explains what was hot and which links you should click to learn more

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By  Matthew Wade Published  January 13, 2008

After hundreds of gadget unveilings and technical demonstrations galore, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week closed its doors for another year. Windows Middle East explains what was hot and which links you should click to learn more.

Let's get straight down into it then with our easy-to-digest guide to CES' most interesting products and curious moments.

Firstly, Microsoft chairman, visioneer, and current ruler of the Windows world Mr. Bill Gates made his final CES keynote address. His speech didn't actually premiere any truly bog-rocking developments, but it did feature a raft of funky PC systems, his bigging up of speech and touch PC control methods, and details of Microsoft's new partnership with NBC that will see the firms work together to run the website for this year's Beijing Olympics. He also mentioned how Microsoft has now shipped 100 million copies of Vista, but as that's shameless corporate promotion, we won't dwell on that here.

Also on the speech front, Intel's big boss Paul Otellini was in full effect, outlining his slightly worrying vision of the future, in which almost all electronic devices will be internet-connected. So we'll all be online, all the time, whether in our cars, on our bikes (not sure how that will work, at least more than once...), and so on. He also talked specifics, by demonstrating a so-called ‘system-on-a-chip' for consumer devices. Code-named ‘Canmore' (ingenious see?), this technology is aimed squarely at TV, set-top box, and media player usage, allowing manufacturers to integrate internet apps into such products.

A third speechmeister was the CEO of car maker General Motors, one Rick Wagoner, who became the first auto supremo to actually unveil a new car at CES. The firm's new concept vehicle, named the Provoq, is effectively a Caddy that can stretch to 300 miles on a single tank and is choc-a-block packed with green-fingered, earth-saving technologies. For instance, it runs on a hydrogen fuel cell and a lithium-ion battery.

Click here to hear Mr. Gates, Mr. Otellini and Mr. Wagoner in full flow

IT and consumer electronics product-wise, in general this year's CES was - rather like last year - a show of incremental improvements rather than earth-shattering, category-killing arrivals. However that's not to say there wasn't some cool stuff to ogle.

  • Value-packed SFF-wise, Shuttle introduced the US KPC Linux PC, which will retail - at least in the US - for $199. Inside is an Intel Celeron CPU, 945GC chipset, 512Mbytes of RAM, and a 60Gbyte or 80Gbyte hard disk.

Check out some product pics here

Find out when this box is launched at Shuttle's site here

  • Dell's XPS 630i laptop meanwhile featured an interesting sized display. Instead of the 16:10 screen ratio used by most laptops, this model instead displays its image in a ‘true' (read: traditional) 16:9 ratio - just like a High-Def TV. Neat.

Check out the 630i here

  • Buffalo meanwhile got in on the multi-format storage act, demonstrating its new ‘MediaStation Blu-ray HD DVD drive'. This external USB combo drive can both read and write Blu-ray discs, and can read HD DVD discs. Nothing like sitting on the format fence is there?

Find more MediaStation product info here

  • Of course, no technology show would be complete without a CE company unveiling a new huge TV of some sort, and Panasonic was the firm this time around, with its 150-inch ‘Lifescreen' plasma model - billed no less as "the world's largest plasma." Well of course.

Read about the Lifescreen

  • Also in terms of TV tech, there was no small amount of commotion about OLED-based displays. Seriously colour-rich but still some time away from being truly affordable for Joe Average, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology is based on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) whose emissive electroluminescent layer is composed of a super-thin film of organic compounds. These are placed down in rows and columns onto a flat carrier via a simple ‘printing' process, with the resulting matrix of pixels capable of emitting lights of different colours. Sony's 11-inch OLED HDTV for example was on display at CES, but at $2,500 (for 11 inches of screen real estate don't forget) it's far, far from wallet friendly.

  • Sony-wise, there were a couple more interesting happening to report. The firm officially announced Blu-ray-to-PSP movie transfers, which real future-facing game geeks will no doubt love. And on the wireless HD TV front, the firm displayed its wireless in-room HD concept. This involved a transmitter box (and living room cabinet full of associated wires), linked up to a cable-free 1080p TV. All very nice, however no time-to-market details have yet been announced.

View all Sony's CES product materials by clicking here

  • On the silly Japanese gadgetry front, Sanyo Electric wowed - it says here - the crowds, by showing off its new range of waterproof digital TV phones. According to the firm's tech team, the aim of this is so that a user can "enjoy watching TV while taking a bath". Essential functionality I'm sure you'll agree.

Find Sanyo Electric here

  • Less silly stuff, and Chinese PC giant Lenovo announced that it was finally moving into the consumer PC space. Long since a provider of ex-IBM ThinkPad products, the firm confirmed it would be hitting the market shortly with a range of consumer-focused notebooks, branded IdeaPad. It is also planning to release a consumer desktop line, called IdeaCentre. Initial IdeaPads will comprise 15- and 17-inch wide-screen versions, with a more portable 11-inch model expected thereafter. These machines should arrive in the Middle East during the first quarter of this year.

Read more about Lenovo's IdeaPads

  • Printer and sewing machine giant Brother continued to focus on how beautifully the latter type of product can sync with modern consumer electronics, highlighting its self-developed software that can turn digital snaps into, well, something that can be stitched together by one of its embroidery machines. Now the software will set you back approximately $1,000 and the machines from $600 to $13,000, so you'd better be pretty serious about creating that Burj Dubai jacket.

Learn about Brother's sewing solutions at this page

  • Still glowing from its new-found ‘world's biggest plasma TV' fame, Japanese CE giant Panasonic was also very much in on the wireless HD act, premiering its ‘Viera Link Wireless HD'. This also seems a way away from a proper commercial rollout however.

Check out the YouTube vid here

  • Last but not least demo display-wise, premium-priced game kit vendor Alienware also blew the minds - and goggled the eyes - of hardcore button bashing types with the arrival on the stand of its monstrously huge ‘wraparound' DLP rear-projection monitor. Sporting a frankly ridiculous resolution of 2880 x 900 pixels, this prototype device is expected to be available towards the end of year, should you be able to find games to support its astronomical graphics figures.

Alienware's CES details are all here

  • Last but not least, a little frustration and confusion, this time from a Microsoft representative, who it seems might - or might not - have suggested that Microsoft's HD DVD-loving Xbox team might consider supporting Sony's Blu-ray technology should consumers demand this. Albert Penello, Microsoft's group marketing manager for Xbox hardware, was quoted on numerous CES news sites and blogs last week as having said, "It should be consumer choice; and if that's the way they vote, that's something we'll have to consider." However Penello later told Gizmodo that Microsoft is "not thinking" this, which was "fairly definitive", and MS has "no plans" to build anything Blu-ray, as it was "totally committed to HD DVD." That's that sorted out then.

It will be interesting to see how many of these product technologies and developments make it to this region for Gitex Technology Week in November. We'd hope a good proportion of them. Until then however, you can check out full details of the products that do hit these shores, when they're reviewed and rated first in Windows Middle East.

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