Friday, January 11, 2008

Back From CES 2008

Every year, the largest trade show for electronics takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Consumer Electronics Show or CES proves that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. The electronic gadgets and innovations that are shown at CES make their way into homes and offices around the world. I have long wanted to attend CES, and this is the year I finally got to do it. However, since I was there to help staff my employer's booth at the show, I got just a precious few minutes to look around . . . less than an hour actually. Between 10 hour days and nightly planned dinners I didn't get to see much of anything. Still, I took the few minutes I did have to look around a small part of the show.

It seems that every year, electronics manufacturers vie for bragging rights for manufacturing the biggest television display. Three years ago, Samsung used CES to unveil its 80 inch set. Now it's 2008, and the newly renamed Panasonic Corporation (formerly Matsushita) unveiled a 150 inch, high-definition plasma display. Wow! The resolution and color was absolutely stunning! This baby is 11 feet wide by over 6 feet tall.

Panasonic's 150" HD television display panel at CES 2008

Too large for all but the largest of homes, I imagine this king-sized product will find its home in such venues as sports bars and casinos. You can read Yahoo! Tech's review of this set by Christopher Null HERE.

I have yet to make the leap to HDTV, but there a few things that are keeping me from doing so. One is the cost. I would have to toss a perfectly good 36" NTSC (standard definition) television and spend good money on a new HD set. Then I would have to upgrade my DVD recorder, and the war between HD-DVD and BluRay is far from over. Third, I would have to pay more for HD programming and a new DVR. Finally I have noticed that HD programs look absolutely stunning on an HDTV. However, regular programs look grainy, blurry, and contain compression artifacts, all resulting in a less than stellar experience when viewing standard tv programs, even on the best of HD sets. Ultimately, I suppose we will all have HD televisions, but for now, I am holding out.

There was one very annoying and obnoxious display at CES 2008. Across the aisle from my company's display, LG Electronics had a huge booth and a stage set up. All day long, incessant, loud, non-stop techno music was playing at a deafening level, with a bass beat every half second that shook you from the inside. It was so loud as to make conversation with visitors to our booth difficult. Then here's the totally ridiculous part . . . they had several "fashion shows" throughout the day. What this has to do with selling TVs is beyond me.

They had a male and female announcer who would alternate saying things like "Life is smart", "Life is stylish", "Life is sparkling", etc. After each line, a model would come out and strike a pose. Then, for watching, the audience would be given a writing pen after the show.

Someone actually came to work one day and pitched this idea. Then someone bought off on it. This could be the boss' idea, and all the "yes" men and women chimed in. Imagine a meeting at LG one day:

Boss: "I have this great idea. We'll sell TVs with a fashion show and play loud techno all day!"
Employee 1: "Great idea! We should have thought of that"
Employee 2: "That's why you're the boss!"
Employee 3: "This will sell thousands of TVs!!"

Here is what this extremely loud and annoying "fashion show" looked like:

"Life is stylish!"

This was so obnoxious that I have taken a vow to never buy an LG or Zenith product. Maybe this makes sense in Korea, but here it was just dumb. At least that's how I see it.

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