A look at the new boxes, technologies being introduced at CES

Wait 'til you meet my gadget...

HDMI 1.3
The latest iteration of the High Definition Multimedia Interface — a tech standard for connecting peripheral devices like Blu-ray players and home theater receivers to digital TVs — will enable more advances in picture quality. Peddlers of hi-def goods have had a hard enough time explaining to consumers that their peripherals must have HDMI ports in order to get the most out of their HDTV sets. But like it or not, HDMI 1.3 will be ubiquitous at CES this year, with everything from PlayStation 3 consoles to new hi-def disc players to AV receivers to digital TVs touting inclusion of the updated standard.

SanDisk — a company known for digital storage solutions like flash drives and MP3 players — is taking on the search for what is now the Holy Grail of home entertainment: moving PC downloads into the living room. Just like an iPod, users of the technology would drag and drop video files onto a USB TV player (to be introduced later this year), then move the device to their TV for viewing of said files. At CES, SanDisk will be introducing the technology to folks like TV makers, hoping to get them to start integrating USB ports into more of their sets.

Hi-def DVD
After dominating the CES headlines last year, the hyped “format war” has yet to materialize. However, with electronics retailers having engaged in their own war over the holidays — a price battle on digital TVs — and Sony still in the midst of rolling out its Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3, the backers of both hi-def disc platforms will once again be out in force in Las Vegas. Look for truce-minded Blu-ray and HD DVD denizens to show off new dual-format discs and players at CES, along with upcoming hi-def titles.

Up-converting DVD players
Among the 35 million American homes that now have HDTV, there are bound to be plenty of those who aren’t willing to replace the standard-definition DVDs they only recently purchased with even pricier new Blu-ray or HD DVD versions. At CES, electronics makers will be showing off new lines of DVD players that “up-convert” the 480 lines of resolution offered by standard-def discs to the 1080p picture quality found on high-end HDTV sets.

Follow Me TV
A year ago, the Slingbox made a big splash at CES, introducing a solution for viewing content stored on a home digital video recorder remotely from a notebook or desktop PC. At CES this year, several solutions will be touted for hooking up to DVRs with mobile devices. For its part, Motorola will be showing off Follow Me TV, a solution that will enable users to access their DVR at home via their Motorola Razr cell phone.

Steve Jobs is expected to unveil Apple’s latest toy several hundred miles away at Macworld in San Francisco — an anticipated announcement that will affect CES this year, given that the two tech confabs were skedded simultaneously this year. Gadget-biz analysts say the iPhone will likely be able to connect wirelessly to the iTunes musicstore, allowing users to download music and video directly to their phones without the need to connect through a computer.

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