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CES To Offer Tech Evolution, Not Revolution

In addition, CES has less star power with Microsoft founder Bill Gates no longer giving the opening night keynote, a job he filled for the last 11 years.




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For home networking and backup, HP plans to showcase its Windows-based MediaSmart Server, which will be available next month. The home server has up to 1.5 TB of storage, which provides a central repository for backing up and accessing digital music, videos, photos, and other files from multiple computers on a home network. The server, which starts at $599, supports Windows PCs and Apple Macs running Leopard using Apple Time Machine software.

One area of focus at CES will be in connecting the Internet to the home television, a much better venue for watching online video than a PC. Intel and Yahoo are expected to discuss their continuing efforts. Yahoo offers mini-applications that draw content from the Web using the TV's remote control. Companies that will showcase the TV Widgets at CES include Samsung Electronics, which plans to include the applications in select models of its flat-panel high-definition TVs shipping this year.

Other companies showcasing Web-to-TV products include LG Electronics, which plans to make Netflix's online movies available in broadband-connected sets that will be available this spring. The company also plans to show off Blu-ray disc players that can access YouTube videos and movies on CinemaNow. Those products are also set to ship in the first half of this year.

Vendors in general are expected to feature slimmer and bigger TVs using organic light-emitting diode screens, which Sony and Samsung showcased last year. OLED displays provide more vivid colors and overall better picture quality than LCD screens, but are also considerably more expensive. The technology also makes it possible to create thinner TVs.

Cisco is rumored to be planning on giving a peek at a multiroom wireless music system, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Cisco, however, will not have a booth at the show. Other vendors staging media events for new products, but have opted out of the showroom included Sanyo and Philips Electronics.

Another likely focus at CES is 3-D technology that brings the special effect to the home TV. Hollywood movie studios are driving 3-D technology, which makes it possible to have objects and characters appear to jump off the screen. Walt Disney Pictures released its Bolt animated film late last year in 3-D, and DreamWorks is among the studios planning such movies this year.

Companies planning to highlight 3-D technology at CES include Nvidia, which will be showing off a 3-D gaming technology called GeForce 3D Vision. The company is also partnering with companies like Mitsubishi, Samsung, and Viewsonic, which are planning to bring 3-D technology to the TV and are likely to have some surprises for CES.

Along with the usual keynotes from tech bigwigs, vendors will be using celebrities to lure customers to events. Sports stars scheduled to make appearances include Ryan Therlot of the Chicago Cubs, superstar Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins, Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, and Oakland A's slugger Matt Holiday. Singer and actress Diana Ross is scheduled to perform an invitation-only concert.

Scheduled keynote speakers include Howard Stringer, chairman and chief executive of Sony; Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford; Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel; and John Chambers, chairman and chief executive of Cisco.