I initially wrote this little rant as my wrap-up piece for our CES coverage
, but for a variety of reasons ended up publishing something a little more straightforward
. It's not really about digital imaging per se, but between the holidays and CES, I didn't get any real work done from mid-December to mid-January, so it'll have to do. And so, without further ado:
Top 10 things you really don't want to encounter at CES
10. A new media format from Sony
And yay--we didn't get one. Even better, to my tired eyes, the company's announcement of its DCR-P55
ultracompact MiniDV camcorder, which is about the same size as Sony's petite MicroMV camcorders, loudly announces, "MicroMV is dead!" Sony reps wouldn't confirm my suspicions, but after years of interpreting the nuances of PR body language, I feel like I'm on pretty solid ground.
9. The nouvelle press conference
Like nouvelle cuisine, the price is too high and the portions too small. I broke my cardinal rule of trade shows: under no circumstances, go to a press conference. Although we'd been briefed before the show about Sony's camcorders, we hadn't managed to get info on camera announcements. So instead of sitting in front of my laptop and reading the releases as they posted, I waited on a line for 45 minutes (because last year's was so packed that many people didn't get in) for what turned out to be a discourse on the importance of copy protection--a.k.a. digital rights management--and some contentless blather about HD. That's two hours of my life I will never get back, not to mention the rise in blood pressure caused by the DRM sermon.
8. The latest strategies for selling CE to women
Sony hosted a Women in Technology reception in its newly redesigned SonyStyle store in Las Vegas. The food, drinks, and company were great, and the store's now carrying cool, fashion-friendly Acme Made laptop bags
. But I almost spit out my froufrou drink over the logic behind the store redesign: in order to sell women consumer electronics, coddle them. We don't really care about features or performance or value; we care about touchy-feely fabrics and good feelings and artful display. Silly me. I thought the problem was obnoxious, condescending salesmen, poorly designed product interfaces, and sexual fetishization of technology. The store is real pretty, though.
7. Another budget camcorder
This year's group of entry-level camcorders looks pretty much like last year's: a bit smaller and curvier, but ultimately most of them have the same sensor, optics, and feature set as their predecessors. The real action is slightly higher up the food chain in consumer three-CCD camcorders. For instance, Panasonic has added optical image stabilization to its upcoming crop, and Sony announced a three-chip model designed along the lines of its popular, compact PC330 and PC350. Though we're taking a wait-and-see attitude on the usefulness of surround-sound capture for consumers, we expect the ability to capture an HD-equivalent field of view to become a standard feature in all camcorders with 1-megapixel and higher sensors.
6. A missing cable
You'd think that at a show where 80 percent of the products require some sort of wired connection, you'd be able to find a fairly common cable: one of those USB-A-to-mini-B cables that most digital cameras use. You'd think wrong. After two hours of searching, at the farthest end of the farthest hall, past the Cables to Go booth (which didn't have any cables to go), I finally located one. A shout-out to the GoldX
crew for saving my butt. And the company's modular connector system comes in really handy when you deal with as many different products as we do.
5. A cranky cabbie
She wouldn't give me a ride and insisted that I walk to the convention center. Should I have to explain to a cab driver that I've fractured an elbow and a shoulder in the past year while simply walking
4. The new (battery) math
Panasonic announced its new Oxyride oxy-nickel-hydride batteries--yes, the name sounds like it should provide whiter whites as well--which are supposed to provide 1.5 to 2 times longer life than traditional
alkalines (plus better flash performance) in digital cameras. However, no one's mentioned their projected performance compared to their real competitors: high-drain optimized alkalines, such as the Energizer e2 Titanium and the Duracell Ultra. And if you're really concerned with value and performance, you should be using lithium disposables, which last longest and cost the least over time. More important, shouldn't we be developing better rechargeables instead?
3. DVD recordable camcorders
Maybe when they incorporate Blu-ray.
2. OK, I lied. I have only 9
And the No. 1 thing you really
don't want to encounter at CES:
1. Flu microbes flying at you from every direction
So there you have it, and hopefully I've attained closure for another year. My next column will pick up with photo management and begin a discussion of my latest project: digitizing, restoring, and archiving my family's photos and movies. Know any superior places that digitize from 8mm and 16mm film? I could use some suggestions. Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Got any complaints about the consumer electronics industry? Air 'em below in TalkBack.