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Technology: Gearing Up for 2006

2 minute read
Wilson Rothman

For some, Christmas comes the first week in January, when the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas. This year 2,500 exhibitors showcased everything from a 103-in. plasma TV to a portable ½-in.-thick satellite radio. Here are the products and the services we considered to be best in show.


Mindstorm NXT isn’t your typical Lego set. Equipped with a 32-bit computer as well as USB 2.0 and Bluetooth interfaces, it lets you build robots that walk, talk and interact with their environment. Available in August. $250


It’s too early to render standard DVDs obsolete, but high-definition discs are clearly the future. The only question: Which format will become the industry standard, Blu-ray or HD DVD? Technically, they’re pretty similar, so it will ultimately depend on what consumers will buy. Judging from CES’s offerings, there is plenty to choose from. Both Toshiba and RCA announced they will ship $500 to $800 HD DVD players this spring. Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Pioneer and Philips say they will ship Blu-ray players later this year. But Samsung will be first, with a $1,000 Blu-ray in April.

GOOGLING VIDEO Apple’s got iTunes, and now Google has a video store. The cost of content varies: CSI rerUns are $1.99, and NBA games are $3.95. For now, most network programming is protected and viewable only on a PC. Everything else can be seen on an iPod or a Sony PSP.

FINDING A BETTER WAY Portable GPS navigators aren’t new, but Alpine’s BlackBird takes the technology a step further. Its gathers traffic updates, announces turn-by-turn directions and transmits MP3s to your car stereo. $700

READING THE FUTURE Sony hopes its 1/2-in.-thick Reader, with a high-contrast screen and enough memory to hold the text of 80 books, will change the way we read. Sony’s online bookstore has a few thousand eBook titles available for download. $300 to $400

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