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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 10:19 GMT
Las Vegas hosts digital nirvana
By Alf Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website in Las Vegas

High-end TV sets being set up at CES
TV will vie with PC as vehicle for storing music, video and photos
A cornucopia of technology will be jostling for attention at the annual consumer electronics extravaganza being held in Las Vegas this week.

Some 2,500 exhibitors and 130,000 people are expected to flock to the Consumer Electronics Show to catch up with the latest products and software.

The keynote speakers not only include the bosses of Microsoft and Sony, but also web titans Google and Yahoo.

The line-up reflects the shift towards digital media and an online lifestyle.

Digital eyeballs

Much of the floor space at the expo will be taken up by electronic powerhouses such as Panasonic and Philips, showcasing the newest high-end television sets.

But alongside high-definition displays and plasma screens will be boxes designed to make it easy to watch programmes over the internet.

Many tech companies see the TV as becoming the vehicle by which people access their photos, video and music stored on a home computer network or on the web.

To this end, Microsoft will be pushing its Windows software as the means for delivering video and audio to devices in the living room, as well as to mobile phones and MP3 music players.

Sony's Blu-ray technology being set up at CES
Rival DVD formats will be on display

Rival Sony is expected to focus its efforts on promoting its Blu-ray DVD technology, which promises far greater capacity on discs.

It faces competition from Toshiba and its HD-DVD standard, in what many see as a replay of the Betamax versus VHS showdown of the 1970s

Both DVD formats offer much more storage but attempts to reach a compromise and avoid a formats war have fallen by the wayside.

Media anywhere

Apple, the company that has ostensibly done the most to change the way people listen to music with its iPod, will be largely absent from the Vegas show. It is holding its own expo in San Francisco next week.

Instead the CES show floor will play host to digital music and video players seeking to seize Apple's crown.

It is part of the trend towards courting consumers who are becoming used to controlling their media, deciding how they listen to music, read the news or watch TV.

Just about every technology under the sun will be represented in Vegas this week, from satellite navigation to robot vacuum cleaners, from digital printers to biometric scanners.

Alongside the gadgets are dozens of conference sessions, where some of the leading names in in business and research will try to figure out where the digital world is heading.

Microsoft boss Bill Gates will kick off proceedings with a keynote speech on Wednesday evening.

Google's co-founder Larry Page is due to speak on Friday and the LA Times has reported that he may use the keynote to announce a low-cost PC based on a Google operating system to be sold at US store Wal-Mart.

CES, which is not open to the public, officially runs from Thursday until Sunday.


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