The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is still weeks away, but last night the organizers threw a preview party in Manhattan to get the buzz machine started.
There were only about 20 vendor booths, a minuscule fraction compared to the hundreds that will attend CES this January. Many of the vendors that did attend are saving their best products to launch at CES.
Still, we were able to finds a few interesting products, from gaming chairs to terabyte personal storage appliances, that will gives users a hint at what to expect at CES and throughout 2006.
One of the most interesting companies at the event was Digital Deck, which plans to launch its distributed DVR platform at CES. The company will begin selling its eDeck, a bi-directional media adapter that takes all of your video sources, converts them into non-copy protected MPEG files, and sends them to your PC.
"It becomes a DVR and a media adapter," says Ted Malone, vice president of corporate strategy and marketing at Digital Deck. "Your PC Serves as your network attached storage device and runs the whole system." Digital Deck also provides management software for your PC
All of the video files are converted into MPEG files without any copy-protection, so you can do whatever you want with them.
When asked about copyright issues, Malone said "It is no different than having a TV tuner in your PC."
The software also uses iTunes as a media server, so you can access your collection throughout the house.
Because of the high-bandwidth requirements of video, about 7MB/s, the Digital Deck is initially targeting users with homes that are already have Ethernet wiring. When 802.11n is ready, that could work to. The eDeck will be sold at specialty retails stores, like Tweeters and Magnolia, for approximately $450.
"DVR with central storage is very cool," Malone.
If you run out of space on your PC, you can purchase a personal storage appliance like Anthology Solutions' Yellow Machine, which was also on the show floor. The Yellow Machine ($1,999 direct) is network-attached storage appliance that offers as much as 1.6 terabytes of storage. The company also sells a one-terabyte version for $1,299.
One of the more eye-catching products at the event was the iBall from Oregon Scientific. The iBall ($299 direct) is a wireless speaker system that works with any model of iPod. Just set your iPod into the docking station, hit "play" and you can move the speaker as far as 100 feet away from the iPod. (A model that works with all other MP3 players, called the Music Sphere, is also available for $249.)
This padded chair comes with audio inputs and built-in speakers that add some extra rattle and hum to your gaming experience. You can connect it to any game console, even the PSP.
There area few of gaming chairs on the market, but Lumisource's Jennifer Mack says the company is going after value shoppers. "The Boom Chair is great value for the money — not only do you get a good-looking chair, but you also get sound system and vibration."
We hope they have some of these chairs on the floor at CES in January, so that tired journalists can take a break from the show and get their game on.
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