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Car Porn... And Audio Systems

Ces_auto The North Hall of CES is known for its audacious displays of car audio—lots and lots of undrivable vehicles with wacked-out paint jobs, displayed with subwoofers and giant-screen televisions inside that would be guaranteed to make any driver crash and/or go deaf. One audio company exhibited a 300-lb. subwoofer that generated noise so loud that the convention center's Skywalk shook when it played, and we were warned to keep our videocam 15 feet away so the lens didn't shatter from the vibrations. When they actually turned the system on, a 50 Cent song came blaring out (Fitty was unsurprisingly very popular with the after-market car gadgets audience); at first I grooved a little, but when the bass-line refrain started, I crumpled to the floor in pain. The sensation was less "sound" than "earthquake," inciting a very uptight lady nearby to storm angrily out of the room to jeers of "If it's too loud, you're too old." Watch as Jonathan and I cruise the booths in Cartown, CES, in the video below. —Megan Miller

   

Actual Porn... And Robots

Panda One of the best things about CES is the satellite exhibition hall at the Sands Hotel, which, incidentally, is also the venue for the Adult Expo—the porn trade show associated with the Adult Video Awards, an event that for unknown reasons historically takes place during the same week as the Consumer Electronics Show. Presumably because of its couple-mile distance from the rest of CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands exhibits tend to be a bit lower rent—no gleaming giant booths displaying 108" plasmas screens in here. Instead, it's home to tacky bling-related accessories for cell phones, mom-and-pop gadget shops hawking weird inventions, robotics start-up companies, and Chinese imports. So basically, it's nirvana. Oh—and did I mention the porn stars? The cultural convergence of the sex industry and extreme geekdom at the Sands is like peanut butter and jelly. Only a lot more fun to watch. So without further ado, here's the video you've been waiting for: Future Girl and Jonathan Coulton at the Sands. —Megan Miller

   

If Only It Were Eight Inches Bigger

Ces_tv Oh, the indignities of being a flat-screen TV purveyor. Each year companies guess and plan and read tea leaves and pray, trying to find that magic number of inches that will make one brand’s giant lightbox gianter than that of its competitors, in time for the CES pissing contest. Last year, plasma screens outperformed LCDs, with records for the largest of the former hovering around 100 inches and the latter somewhere in the 70s.

So design engineers for Sharp, Panasonic, LG, etc. gambled big in ’07, increasing LCD screen sizes by up to 30 inches, and then crossing their fingers. CES lore has it that the big-screen market race is so intense that companies—not knowing what their competitors will bring to the table— often create posters in advance of the show proclaiming things like “World’s Largest TV,” which they keep ready to unfurl in the event that their claims turn out to be true.

What I want to know is, what is it like to be the guys who get beat out by just an inch? Or, perhaps more humiliatingly, who get beaten by a full eight inches? That is, in fact, what happened this week to the poor fellas at LG, who proudly trumpeted that theirs was the “World’s First” 100-inch LCD TV— an impressive piece of equipment to be sure, don’t get me wrong—mere hundreds of feet from Sharp’s 108-inch LCD. Okay, maybe it was first in that the LG booth got set up before the Sharp booth or something, but still: Ouch. I imagine the feeling must be akin to being Kobe Bryant and having your wife leave you for Manute Bol.

In the video below, Jonathan Coulton and I talk to the winners—and more entertainingly, the losers— of CES 2007’s battle of the big screens. —Megan Miller

   

Ask A Booth Babe

Ces2 How well do the hired guns and gun-ettes at CES know their spiels? Are the Vonage girls in the Fanta-colored minidresses just pretty faces, or are they shrewd and highly trained sales people? We sought to find the answers to these and other burning questions today as we roamed the halls of CES, checking out gadgets both lame and cool (standouts in the latter category included Samsung’s Bluetooth TV and Ion’s iProjector—both fully pimped in the video below). Oh yeah: and we also good-naturedly heckled the hawkers. 

Seriously, we didn’t have much else to do. MacWorld’s earth-shattering iPhone announcement stole a lot of Vegas’s thunder today, so much so that the CNN guys wandered around bored during a two-hour production break in which CES reporters’ services (including my own) were no longer needed due to a glut of stories rolling in from San Fran. In fact, maybe it’s just me, but there seemed to be a generalized feeling of ennui at the show, as if all the surprises had dried up till tomorrow and we might as well do eff-all in the meantime. Which could explain how Jonathan and I ended up testing horse-riding ab machines and drinking beers outside the show on a grassy knoll. Well, on second thought, we probably would have done that stuff anyway. Watch the silliness in the video below. —Megan Miller

   

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