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Global trends revealed at US consumer electronics show

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Successful next generation consumer electronics products will focus on harnessing the power of the digital revolution in audio, TV and movies to make the user experience as simple, convenient, and personalised as possible. This was the message from the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held last month in Las Vegas, US.

“The digital revolution is about the democratisation of technology,” evangelised chairman and CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina. “It’s about giving power to the people.”

Fiorina announced plans for a variety of HP devices, including the industry’s first High Definition TV (HDTV) media hub. This set top box is designed to allow users to enjoy multiple content sources through a single platform that is managed in the house. It will also include an intuitive program guide, music information service and automatic updates.

Mike Ramsay, co-founder, chairman and CEO of TiVo, gave further support to the digital hub concept by noting a general consumer desire for a more personalised and simplified home entertainment experience. For his company this included the ability to connect TiVo to a PC or media centre allied with greater bandwidth adoption, simplified home networking and larger disk drive storage space.

All this could also become accessible from anywhere in the world. A product displayed by Sling Media, for instance, allows consumers to access the TV in their living room from anywhere around the globe and will be welcome news to countless soap drama and TV loving business travellers.

Texas Instruments president and CEO, Rich Templeton, discussed the impact that digital light processing (DLP) is having on the large high-definition TV markets. He claimed that over 2 million front projection DLP TVs had been sold in the last eight months representing 40 percent of the total front projection market.

In the audio market it has now been accepted that in the battle between outright sound quality and outright convenience, the latter wins hands down with most consumers. The fact is obviously supported by the explosive popularity of storing and listening to compressed digital audio on PCs and portable music players. Next generation audio devices and equipment will therefore have to find ways to satisfy the need for convenience while educating people on the advantages of the high performance audio experience.

Other core consumer electronics areas that are likely to become a hot bed of activity in the coming few years include wireless, the ongoing move from analogue to digital TV and HDTV (including its impact on cable services), and Voice over IP (VoIP).

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