CES 2008 Picks and Pans

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Everybody's Doing It

Fly the HD Skies: The "wirelessly streaming HDTV demo" has become a CES cliché, along with cheesy booth infotainers and glitches in Bill Gates's keynotes. But Belkin's FlyWire might actually fly. Plug your Blu-ray player, cable or satellite feed, or other HD video source into the FlyWire box, and it will stream 1.5 gigabits per second of uncompressed 1080p video up to 50 feet away. How does it work? The secret sauce is in how the box prioritizes bits, says Yoav Nissan-Cohen, CEO of Amimon, whose technology Belkin has licensed. We'll have to wait until late summer to see just how well the $599 FlyWire pulls this off. --Dan Tynan

TV in the Air: We saw lots of wireless video streaming going on at CES this year. Netgear gets it right with its new HD/Gaming 5 GHz Wireless-N Networking Kit, which brings video from the PC to the TV with no jitter or pixelation. --Mark Sullivan

Flash Me: The best innovation, one that may finally cause consumers to take notice of camcorders, is the move toward flash memory, both built in and taking the form of SD Card media. Most of the major companies are getting involved, and that portends much smaller and lighter camcorders. Expect models based on hard drives and other media to fade over the next couple of years. Flash is the future. --Ramon G. McLeod

Too Much Wireless High-Def Cable Replacement Tech: Everybody and their brother wants to replace the slew of cables required to hook up an HDTV to the various video sources in your home entertainment center (set-top boxes, media players, game consoles, and so on). But with all the various ultra-wideband contenders--which include the WiMedia Alliance's Certified Wireless USB standard, Pulse-Link's CWave, Amimon's WHDI (used in Belkin's FlyWire), and SiMedia's WirelessHD--what's a poor consumer to do? Help! --Yardena Arar 

It's All About Design

Little Red Laptop: Lenovo's U110 has an 11-inch screen, weighs about 2 pounds, and sports a stylish, decorative design that doesn't look as if a PC company was merely trying to slap some bling on a business PC. You can choose a 64GB solid-state drive or a 120GB hard drive. The one deal breaker for some people is that it doesn't come with an optical drive; you'll have to buy an external USB option. The U110 comes out in March, but pricing has not yet been set. --Narasu Rebbapragada

A Cintiq for the Rest of Us: Graphics tablet king Wacom showed its new Cintiq 12WX, a pen tablet with a built-in display that gives artists pen-and-paper-like functionality. And the new model isn't just half the price of previous Cintiqs--it's also far sleeker and lighter. --Harry McCracken

The Skinny on HDTVs:Hitachi unveiled its new line of plasma HDTVs that are only 1.5 inches thick. Being a lover of sexy-looking technology, I had to wipe the drool off the side of my mouth. The best part: These aren't prototypes, and you'll see them on the shelves in the spring. I already have my name on a preorder. --Greg Adler

Golden Gigs: A glass case at the LaCie booth held the Golden Disk, an external hard drive housed in a shiny metallic enclosure that looks like a million bucks. The product goes for a reasonable $189, so I'm guessing that's not real gold. --Harry McCracken

Fashion Don't: A lot of things look good in gold. Hard-disk storage isn't one of them. While I'm sure that LaCie's USB 2.0 Golden Disk ($189 for 500GB and $500 for 1TB) works fine, paying an extra $50 over the average price of a 500GB drive--and up to $300 over the price of a 1TB drive--to see my reflection in a backup device isn't my idea of money well spent. --Narasu Rebbapragada

Holey Phone Cases! One manufacturer of cell-phone accessories showed Crocs phone cases, inspired by the inexplicably trendy shoes. The cases are just as ugly, plasticky, and rife with little holes as the footwear is. But someone liked them.--Harry McCracken

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