CES 2007: Dear Diary…Hump Day Part Two

It’s been a long friggin’ week, but I’m in the home stretch now. Just four meetings left: Cyberlink, Toshiba, Linksys and Microsoft’s SPOT group.

If you’ve bought a new Windows computer in the past few years or installed a new optical drive or graphics card in your PC, there’s a very good chance you have some bit of Cyberlink’s software on your computer. Their PowerCinema app is the go-to suite for OEMs who want to add media center-type functionality to computers that aren’t running Windows Media Center Edition or those that want to supplement PCs running MCE with more powerful features.

What’s pictured, though, is the company’s MagicSports software. This is another example of something I’ve read about, but haven’t seen in action until now. What it does is take a recorded sports event (right now just baseball, soccer, and sumo wrestling are supported, but American football is in the works) and boil it down to just highlights. So say you recorded a three-hour baseball game, but you only want to see how the runs were scored, this will eliminate all the crap in between. Want to watch a pitching duel without the wait time from pitch to pitch? You can do that, too. It gives every clip a star rating; the more stars it has, the more important it was to the game.

The company is also positioning it’s ubiquitous PowerDVD software as the solution for watching Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs on your computer.

Next is a meeting with Toshiba and a brief run-through of the Portégé R400. The company’s hyping it as the signature Windows Vista PC and from what I saw, it’s at the very least a signature machine, if not the. It’s a notebook. It’s a tablet. It does the whole SideShow thing (though on a much smaller scale than the ASUS and LG) thanks to a small display on the front edge. Viewable whether it’s been converted to a tablet or not, the display acts as a “Personal Information Assistant allowing the user to easily monitor his/her inbox and calendar activity.” It also takes advantage of Microsoft’s Active Notifications features that give you live updates to e-mail and calendar events regardless of if the notebook’s being used or in standby.

There’s also the matter of it being, according to Toshiba, the first wirelessly dockable notebook computer. By Q2 of 2007, there will be a Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator that uses Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology with wireless digital video capabilities. This does away with the need to connect a monitor, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, etc. directly to your notebook. Load your peripherals on the the Replicator and then simply bring the notebook within proximity of the Replicator. The notebook will wirelessly connect automatically to the unit and you’ll have full use of everything attached to it.

The Toshiba meeting ran long and combined with the traffic I was half an hour late for my 3:00 p.m. Linksys meeting. Other than briefly discussing their, or should I say the iPhone family (until a judge says otherwise), there was a smattering of other networking-related products announced. Much like my meeting, I’ve decided to expedite things here a bit by taking advantage of the 50-word blurbs provided to me. You can find my initial impressions in parentheses after each. Enjoy.

The Linksys Wireless-N Gaming Router uses a Network Optimizer to automatically prioritize latency-sensitive data for enhanced networked gaming. Next generation game console players, multi-player and hard-core head-to-head gamers can easily achieve the best possible network performance to enhance their gaming experience with the WRT330N. (If you’re going to spend all your time and money on gaming, why not get a specialzed router designed to handle the traffic? No reason I can think of. It looks good, too, in the “my router can eat your router” kinda way.)

The WPSM54G Wireless-G PrintServer with Multifunction Printer Support allows consumers to share USB printers or multifunction devices without the need for a dedicated PC to manage print jobs. It connects the printer or device directly to the network by Wireless-G or Ethernet and supports printing, scanning, copying, and faxing functions. (I’m all in favor of things that let me print, scan and fax wirelessly from any computer in my home and/or small business. However, you have to have a multifunction printer to pull it off, since it only has one USB port.)

The PowerLine AV Ethernet Adapter Kit easily expands a home network using existing power lines to transmit data, including digital media, at speeds suitable for HDTV transmission. Devices in areas of the home without wireless access can connect by simply attaching to a PLE200 adapter plugged into a power outlet. (Eh, it either works or it doesn’t work. At least the kit comes with two Powerline AV Ethernet Adapters and two Ethernet cables so you don’t make it all the way home and realize you need a second of one or the other. The kit will sell for $179.99 and additional adapters are $119.99.)

The NAS200 provides consumers the ability to share and secure valuable content like pictures, video or music stored on hard drives without taxing PC computing power. Two USB 2.0 ports are included for connecting external storage devices and self-monitoring software that warns of potential problems before they occur. (Add two hard drives and you have instant network attached storage. It’s not the prettiest NAS I’ve ever seen and it’s $179.99 without hard drives. That’s not an outrageous price, but you do have to remember to add in the drive costs.)

Finally, I’m off to my last official CES meeting with Microsoft to talk about new MSN Direct SPOT products. While the Melitta weather-reporting coffee machine was there (flashing a weather warning at the time no less), we spent most of the time talking about the two Garmin GPS devices that will be packing the technology: Garmin nüvi 680 and Garmin StreetPilot c580 (pictured). Both come with 12 months of free MSN Direct service, supplying you with traffic information, weather conditions and warning, movie times and gas stations (distance to stations along with current pricing).

Well that’s that. I would spend the rest of my time in Las Vegas eating, drinking, seeing Dennis Haskins aka Mr. Belding (yes, Sabrina, I SAW HIM) and Howie Mandel (keep your hands to yourself Mr. Kobrin) and eventually getting kicked in the face accidentally on purpose. I’m sure I had it coming.

On Monday, I’ll post a final wrap up of some CES stuff I missed because of overscheduling and a couple meetings I squeezed in while walking to other meetings. Thanks for reading.