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 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 09:53 GMT
Digital lifestyle on show
Mobile phone
Gadgets galore going on display in Las Vegas

All you need to live a digital lifestyle is going on show this week at the world's largest consumer technology event in Las Vegas.

More than 2,000 companies are parading their newest gadgets at the international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which runs from 9 to 12 January.

While other technology trade shows like Comdex have faltered, CES is thriving thanks to the coming together of electronic, computing and communications technologies.

"Manufacturers were now combining products in ways that people would find useful," said Jeff Joseph of the Consumer Electronics Association.

"Every device will have some sort of digital connectivity, connected to the internet either by cables or wireless," he told BBC News Online.

Upbeat mood

CES started life in 1967 as a showcase for new televisions and transistor radios but it has since been transformed by the advent of the computer.

Digital rights is a key issue facing the industry

Jeff Joseph, Consumer Electronics Association
With the world going digital, computing technology is going beyond the PC and into household objects like stereos, video recorders and televisions.

Tech companies now talk of home entertainment centres hooked up to the net, wireless displays you can walk around with and beaming live TV into the back of cars.

More than 100,000 people from 100 countries are expected at the show to hear industry leaders like Microsoft's Bill Gates, Sony's President Kunitake Ando and Intel's CEO Craig Barrett outline their vision of the future.

The attendance of such high-profile figures is a sign of how CES is bucking the downturn in the dotcom economy.

Media piracy

This is the biggest CES event to date, with 1.2 million square feet of floor space - the equivalent of 48 football fields.

More than 25 technology pavilions are planned to showcase cutting edge technology in home entertainment, digital video and audio, mobile electronics and gaming.

Handspring phone/organiser
Handheld computers and phones combined
On the sidelines of the exhibition, one of the big themes will be the issue of digital rights.

The entertainment industry, worried by internet piracy of its films and music, is lobbying the US Government to ensure new technologies do not make it easier to copy of DVDs and CDs.

The consumer electronics industry as a whole is reluctant to see limits imposed on CD burners, DVD recorders and portable media players that millions use to make unauthorised copies of movies and songs.

"Digital rights is a key issue facing the industry," said Mr Joseph. "What is the right balance between fair use and protecting copyrighted material?"

Electronic dustbin

In an acknowledgement of the mountains of electronic products that end up as e-waste, CES is looking at the environmental cost of the boom in consumer electronics.

Industry experts and environmentalists will be discussing how best to deal with out of date products, such as recycling mobile phones for use in developing countries.

As for the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to launch a campaign, backed by companies such as Sony and Panasonic, to persuade Americans to stop throwing electronic waste into the bin.

The emphasis on recycling is a timely reminder to a rapidly evolving industry that what may seem like today's hot technology could end up on the scrap heap in a couple of year's time

Consumer Electronics Show 2003, Las Vegas

Key stories

Hi-tech gear

See also:

30 Sep 02 | dot life
14 Sep 02 | Technology
11 Jan 02 | Science/Nature
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