Jon Sweeney  /  MSNBC.com
The Kodak Easyshare-One camera lets shutterbugs share photos instantly through a wireless connection.
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 1/7/2005 8:13:57 PM ET 2005-01-08T01:13:57

This year’s crop of cool new items at the 2005 International Consumers Electronics Show is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  Most of the new items are refined versions of older devices.  But there are a whole bunch of interesting things to tell you about.

First is the innovative digital camera from Kodak.  They call it the easy Share One.  It’s a cute 4 megapixel camera with a few big differences.  First, there’s a lot of built-in memory -- enough memory to store up to 1,500 snapshots inside the camera.  You can store more with an optional SD card.   You can also access your older digital photos that have been previously stored on your computer.

Then there’s the built-in WiFi module.  With that you can transfer your pictures to your computer – or better yet - you can send them directly to a WiFi printer.  Or send them to Ophoto –- the online service -– for ‘processing’ and printing. 

There’s a 3x optical zoom.  The 3-inch LCD screen on the back is big and beautiful.  The camera itself is small and light.  Kodak looks like it has a winner.  Expect prices to run $600 for just the camera -– or $700 with the built-in WiFi module.

Flat-screen TVs are everywhere at this show.  Designers from Sharp were displaying custom LCD TVs that are currently available in Japan.  They cost about twice as much as a regular model because of the amazing-looking enclosures.  Beautiful lacquered finishes in many colors and artisan woods are used to make individual pieces of art for your home.  There are no plans to do this for the U.S. market -– but if word gets out -– there should be plenty of people willing to pay for something that looks great turned on or off.

Otherwise, it seems that the TV theme this year is the bigger the better.  Sharp was also showing off the world’s largest LCD HDTV monitor.  At 65-inches it’s a technological marvel.  I thought picture quality –- from what I could see on the crowded show floor –- was breathtaking.  Sharp hasn’t decided on a price as of now, but expect to pay a premium for the chance to be the first on your block to own a very special TV.

And if that doesn’t sound large enough, or impressive enough, then do I have an HDTV for you.  Samsung presented the world’s largest plasma TV today.  Their new flagship model is 102 inches.  To put that in perspective, Shaquille O’Neal is more than 7 feet tall -- but still more than a foot shorter than the monitor’s diagonal measurement.  Picture-wise, the set is the equivalent of four 50-inch plasmas fused together.

It’s not the type of things you want to try installing on your own.  Although it’s only a few inches thick, the Samsung weighs in at 445 pounds!  As for price, if you have to ask how much it is you can’t afford it.  Samsung won’t even venture a guess at how much this monster might go for.  By the way, picture quality looked pretty amazing from what I could see through the massive crowds standing in front of me.

Jon Sweeney  /  MSNBC.com
Sharp 's HDTV has a with a custom lacquer design concept and a 1366x768  resolution for a true 16:9 aspect ratio.
In contrast, some flat-screen TV prices are headed downward.  The Olevia brand of LCD TVs from China seems to be leading that charge.  They’ve just introduced a 32-inch HDTV-ready model that will retail for $1,999.  There’s also a new 37-in. version for $2,999.  And those are the published retail prices.  Expect to pay hundreds less when you buy online!   Picture quality looked very good in demos at the show.

And H-P was showing off an item they call the ep9010 Instant Home Cinema that you need to know about.  It’s a portable EDTV projector that can throw up to a 102-in. picture on a screen or wall.  It has a built-in DVD player.  It also has a full surround-sound audio system built inside. 

Jon Sweeney  /  MSNBC.com
Samsung demonstrates a 102 inch plasma screen television at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show on Thursday.
That means you get a near state-of-the-art complete high definition audio and video system in a modern-looking, 22-pound package that you can unplug and throw into a closet when you’re done.  Best part of all, it retails for $1,999.  An HDTV version, the ep7120, retails for $2,499.  You can bet I’ll be checking this system out as soon as H-P can get me one.  I’ll let you know how it fares.

Tomorrow, more cool new items including what technology hath wrought on the venerable juke box.  What do you think about having a choice of playing 300,000 songs?

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