Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Consumer Electronics Show that opened on Thursday in Las Vegas is how well-attended it is.
I had feared the financial meltdown would turn CES into a shadow of its former self. But it is alive, vibrant and attracting new exhibits as well as some 100,000 attendees.
There is so much to see at CES that it is difficult to narrow down one’s agenda. Sometimes walking down the aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center everything turns into a blur of LCD and Plasma Screens and attractive booth models vying for attention. Still, I search for what might be the new, new thing.
This is year, the code word appears to be GREEN. New companies and old touting how environmentally friendly their electronic products are. Greenpeace even plans to hold a news conference to confer its blessing on companies that are at least making the effort.
This is my 25th visit to the CES and I have watched as formats and product categories come and go. This year, I decided to concentrate on some of the product areas that really interest me.
Who Needs a Computer?
First, I would like to report that the death of Polaroid is premature. While the famous Land Camera is going away, the company has come up with a nifty replacement. Remember, Polaroid is the company that invented instant pictures. Its new POGO camera not only takes digital 5mp pictures, it also prints them. So if you are on a trip or away from home, you can take you picture and print s 2 x 3 inch picture on special paper called Zink. This stands for zero ink. If you want something larger, you can save the picture to an SD card and print it from a printer.
Polaroid is also using the Zink paper in a compact pocket-sized printer that can be linked to a digital camera or a camera phone for instant printing. More about Polaroid POGO can be found at www.polaroid.com/pogo.
A number of printers now offer ways to print digital photos without using a computer and some are offering novel variations in size and features. Two printers from Canon USA caught my attention: The Selphy ES30 is compact, light and travel worthy. It puts out postcard size pictures. What makes it different is its built-in creative options which allows the user to add frames, clip art, speech bubbles and more right from the printer. It comes with a carry handle that makes it easy to take on the road.
The CP770 is designed for use on the run. It looks like a beach bucket. It also produces postcard size pictures. Canon claims they are water resistant and will last 100 years. I do not think anyone has put this to the test. Both printers use dye sublimation. More information on the Canon printers is available at www.usa.canon.com
I recently purchased a slide and negative scanner to try to print up the thousands of slides I have around my home, especially my wedding slides. I should have waited. One of HP’s newest photo printers does it all.
The C8180 Photosmart is not only a printer, copier and a scanner, but it has the slide and negative attachments built-in. It can scan four slides or six negatives at a time. It comes with software that helps the user make color corrections on the prints. It also has a built-in CD/DVD drive.
What's a Sewing Machine Doing Here?
I stopped sewing when I failed to thread the needle on my inherited sewing machine. So you can imagine how impressed I was with the machines that Brother is showing here at CES. They actually thread themselves and in the case of their embroidery machines, you pick the picture and they do the rest. If you can not like the built-in selections shown on an LCD screen, you can add you own via the USB port. Brother is touting these machines as good home business products. Actually they seem to be a lot of fun.