LAS VEGAS – Flat-panel televisions with built-in digital video recorders . Pocketable satellite radio receivers that can bookmark songs for online purchase. High-definition TVs engineered to play video or display photos from any computer on your home network.
The new offerings from LG Electronics Inc., XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are just a tiny sampling of a feast of gadgetry at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show, an annual showcase of technologies set to soon hit the market.
Spread out over 28 football fields of real estate when the doors open Thursday will be a dizzying array of new products from small startups, dot-com boom retreads and such longtime players as Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.'s Panasonic.
Cameras, MP3 players, DVD recorders, giant plasma screens and accessories for all the above — you name it and, chances are it will be on display at the Sin City convention center-turned-electronics mecca.
Portable gadgets will be smaller but have more powerful features. Laptops will boast longer battery lives. TVs will be bigger and sharper, but cheaper. And many devices will have the ability to connect to the Internet, a home computer network, or to each other — with more ease than their predecessors.
In the home appliance arena, Samsung Electronics Co. will show a refrigerator with four convertible compartments that can switch between being a freezer or a fridge, depending on the user's needs. LG will debut a washer and dryer system that lets users monitor the laundry cycle from a small remote control.
Satellite radio, climbing in popularity, will become more accessible as a growing number of portable and home audio and video devices absorb the feature right into their hardware.
LG, for instance, will debut a 5-disc DVD player that will also feature an XM Satellite Radio-ready tuner.
Samsung and Pioneer Corp. will introduce mobile MP3 audio players that also play live XM radio. Samsung's new Helix XM2Go player even integrates the Napster music download and subscription service, so users can "bookmark" songs heard on XM for online purchase from Napster.
"We've seen millions of MP3 players sold and millions of satellite radio products sold. Now we're marrying them together and will hopefully create a new market," said Chance Patterson, spokesman for XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
Portable multimedia players, which first hit the market a few years ago, are enjoying a renewed buzz this year, assured the attention by Apple Computer Inc.'s debut of a video-playing iPod and recent deals that have made TV shows available for sale over the Internet.
LG will introduce its first portable media center, the PM70, with a 4.3-inch screen and 30 gigabytes of storage, enough for 50 hours of video or 7,500 songs.
"More content availability is what's driving the demand for these things," said Tim Alessi, a product development director in LG's consumer electronics division.
HP is promising its most comprehensive lineup of digital entertainment products yet. For 2006, the computer and printer maker will unveil seven new ultra-compact digital cameras, ranging in price from $119 to $299.
HP is also introducing nine high-definition TVs, including an innovative 37-inch LCD TV that can access other digital media from any computer on a home network.
Without the need for a separate device, the television will automatically connect to a home network so users can switch from watching TV to grabbing music, photos or video any one of their networked computers.
The TV will also offer access to Real Networks' Rhapsody music subscription service, films from CinemaNow or MovieLink and HP's own Snapfish photo sharing service, among other content.
Also debuting in the "When is a TV not just a TV" category is a line of LCD sets from Humax Co. that will feature integrated DirecTV tuners. The first is a 20-inch standard model, with a 32-inch high-definition model promised for later in the year.
Digital video recorders continue their relentless march into homes as phone companies and others challenge cable and satellite TV for home viewers.
Motorola Inc. is debuting a line of DVRs that are meant to serve as home multimedia hubs, with Verizon Communications Inc. due to offer them as part of its nascent TV-over-fiber-optics-cable service.
Not only will Motorola QIP series boxes record and store TV programming, they will also let people access video, pictures and music using the coaxial cable in their homes as a networking conduit.
Such converged, networked devices were attention-getters at previous CES shows but have gained little traction with consumers.
This year, analysts and electronics makers say, promises to be different.
"More and more consumers are comfortable with the Internet and with networking now," said Jan-Luc Blackborn, HP's director of digital entertainment. "In previous attempts, the technology was ready but the consumers were not. Now consumers are more ready for this stuff than ever before."