CES: Poll of the day



CES Video: On the green scene

-- Myung Chun


CES Video: Ahem -- this really is sew techie

As I walked the aisles in one of the cavernous halls of CES 2008, there were storage devices, printers and PDAs, cellphone cases, gaming accessories and MP3 players-- the expected items. And then something stopped me in my tracks.

Not so much for apparent innovation, but more for its seemingly absurd presence at a consumer electronics expo. I was mesmerized since I'd never considered anything -- not a darn thing -- about these devices to be technology-related. 

A closer look, however, revealed that there is a common thread connecting high fashion and high tech. 

Oh, Brother ... sewing machines? It was the constant tattering of thread to cloth that grabbed my attention over the din of beeps, bleeps and dings echoing through the hall. I wasn't the only one -- I've never seen so many men entranced by a sewing machine in my life -- and, no, they weren't just gawking at fashion models on the monitors.

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CES: Useful cellphone tricks?

Maybe these aren't as sexy as a screen that covers a city block and offers oversized Oompa Loompas in color so sharp it could cut glass. But in the shadow of looming LCDs, I managed to see a couple of cellphone items that looked potentially interesting.


Make your BlackBerry into a peach.

Sometimes getting a call isn't convenient, but tapping away incessantly on this addictive contraption is socially accepted -- or at least tolerated.

SimulScribe converts your voicemail into a transcript and emails it to your device, with a WAV audio file. The company says it works with all wireless and land-line providers. You get unlimited storage and can manage your voicemail online -- which can be a blessing and a curse, if you have gabby friends.

Now, the company claims 95% transcription accuracy, but they haven't heard my Trinidadian colleague or Jamaican relatives. (My flesh-and-blood friends have a hard enough time understanding!)

On the "lite" end, theres a pay-per-message plan costing 35 cents a pop. Or you can get 40 transcribed voicemail messages for $9.95 a month and 25 cents for every message over that. Then there's the supersized plan: unlimited messages for $29.95.

Plus, SimulScribe is offering to turn your BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device into an iPhone-plus with SimulSays. The company says it's the first visual voicemail app -- one that offers a transcript -- again, a possible benefit if you're trying to dodge long talkers on vmail.

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CES: Yahoo to get back to yodeling


In his first major speech since taking over as chief executive, a casually dressed Jerry Yang (polo shirt and khakis), set the tone for the new Yahoo Inc.

It sounded a lot like the Yahoo of old, the one he co-founded -- but pretty different from the Hollywood approach former CEO Terry Semel took at CES the last few years.

"It's still the same old face," Yang said, after walking out onto the stage, emphasizing the similarity of his mission to the one Yahoo launched with 13 years ago. But, he said, he and co-founder David Filo
have learned a lot since then. Yang's conclusion: "It is time to get Yahoo yodeling again."

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CES: Something missing from Microsoft's keynote?

Microsoft Corp. is pleased to announce a bold new partnership with ... never mind.

At companies as large as Microsoft, few events elicit as much careful preparation as a keynote speech by the top executives. Sunday night, that was Bill Gates at CES.

The speechwriting and much-rehearsed demonstrations are just the visible part of what approximates a State of the Union address. Underlying those are the efforts by: strategists to establish broad themes, executives to hash through which projects most deserve (or most badly need) championing, and deal makers to lobby for public salutes to allies at other corporations.

Given all that labor and the need for a seamless multimedia performance, last-minute changes are strongly discouraged.

So it came as a surprise when one of the keynote deals Microsoft explained in advance to the press Friday -- an agreement by Sony Corp. to manufacture television sets capable of displaying a Windows-powered computer’s content without extra gear -- was excised from Sunday's speech. Similar TV deals were announced with only Hewlett-Packard Co. and Samsung Corp.

Let's see, did anything else happen Friday? Oh yes, Blu-ray, which is the next-generation DVD format backed furiously by Sony, converted Warner Bros. to its cause and won what several analysts predicted would be the decisive blow against the HD DVD format championed by Microsoft.

Microsoft said the change in Gates' speech was a coincidence, one that it declined to explain further.

A Sony spokesman also discouraged any link to the format war, saying that negotiations over the new TVs probably hadn't gotten close enough to completion for an announcement -- apparently someone jumped the gun.

Sony and Microsoft compete on several fronts but cooperate on others. In fact, some of the demonstrations during Gates’ keynotes were on Sony Vaio laptops running Windows Vista. That long-term partnership is too valuable for both sides to be abandoned over one or two fits of pique, be they real or imagined.

-- Joseph Menn


CES: A snapshot

Here's a quick look at some of what CES has to offer:

Click through photos


CES: Gadget Town

At the annual Digital Experience showcase, dozens of electronics manufacturers big and small displayed their wares in a packed ballroom at Caesars Palace. ("Turn left at the David statue," said a security guard, giving directions.) Hundreds of attendees wolfed down sausages and tater tots -- for some inexplicable reason, the theme seemed to be a football tailgate party -- while wandering from booth to booth.

If tradition holds, many of the items on display will never be seen in public again and a chosen very few will go on to be hits.

Here's a few that were there:

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CES: Poll of the day


CES: Bill Gates' last day and other best-of-the-Web

It's Monday morning at CES 2008, and the coverage is already overwhelming. We're here to help you find some of the best by compiling our favorites.

- Bill Gates is leaving his day job at Microsoft in July to focus full-time on giving away billions of dollars. Here's a video he showed at his keynote last night, in which Steve Ballmer, Matthew McConaughey, Jay-Z and others imagine Bill Gates' Last Day.

And here's our newspaper's story about how Gates' last CES keynote sounded a lot like his first one.

The gurus at TechCrunch weren't crazy about Gates' speech.

Read on »


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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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