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News > Technology
Gear up for a wireless summer
From mini-TVs to home entertainment units, wireless and portability are hot trends in electronics.
May 25, 2004: 3:37 PM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Wireless TVs that fit into your pocket, sleek entertainment systems beautiful enough to hang on the wall and more dirt-cheap printers are expected to be some of the hot trends in consumer electronics this year.

"Several of our exhibitors are also showing the latest in color cell phones, lightweight laptops, mini MP3 players, digital cameras and flat-screen TVs," said Melissa Hoffman, media manager at Pepcom, organizer of this year's Digital Experience expo in New York City.

According to Hoffman, more than 30 technology companies, including Nokia, Panasonic, Motorola, IBM and Hewlett-Packard were set to display the latest gadgets and gizmos at the media-only event late Monday.

Sony's 12-inch LocationFree TV (upright) and the 7-inch TV (in the foreground)  
Sony's 12-inch LocationFree TV (upright) and the 7-inch TV (in the foreground)

"The big trends this year are portable products, especially in the digital music arena. The television category is still going strong. The driving factor in television is the transition to digital and satellite TV," said Ross Ruben, technology analyst with market research firm NPD Group. "Flat screen TVs are very popular. In fact, our research shows that consumers care more about the 'flat' look rather than the high-definition element of it."

Alan Stafford, senior editor of PC World, says he also expects to see computer vendors continuing to make inroads into consumer electronics. "This will depend greatly on wireless technology," said Stafford.

"So, we're starting to see very inexpensive wireless devices that aren't meant for data -- they're meant for entertainment," he said.

But both Ruben and Stafford said electronics manufacturers will be pushing harder to incorporate wireless capability across a broader array of categories.

Sony's DREAM DVD home theater system, featuring speakers with removable stands.  
Sony's DREAM DVD home theater system, featuring speakers with removable stands.

For instance, Sony Electronics over the weekend unveiled its wall-mountable DAV-LF1 high-end wireless DVDV Dream home-theater system at the Home Entertainment show in New York.

"The wireless Dream system is a high-end home theater in a box, with flat speakers and amazing aesthetics," said David Migdal, spokesman for Sony.

Midgal said the wireless system, which is priced at $2,000, was inspired by both the wireless home and flat panel TV trends. The Dream system, which will be available in September, can also be integrated with Sony's flat panel LCD or plasma WEGA televisions.

Separately, Sony also debuted its new wireless LocationFree TV, a portable broadband LCD television system that Sony says can be utilized virtually anywhere around the world.

Nokia's new 6820 messaging phone availble from AT&T Wireless.  
Nokia's new 6820 messaging phone availble from AT&T Wireless.

"This product demonstrates the fusion of traditional TV and broadband IT technology," Greg Gudorf, vice president of marketing for Sony Electronics' Television Group, said in a statement. "It's a TV, perfect for those who want to access their favorite, personal audio/visual contents and the Internet where there's broadband connection, or who simply do not want the hassle of complicated hook-ups and downloading the way you do now if you want mobile entertainment using PC-based systems."

Available in the fall, the portable TV comes in two sizes, $1,500 for the 12-inch LF-X1 model and $1,000 for the 7-inch LF-X5 model.

Panasonic's vew DMR-E95H DVD recorder.  
Panasonic's vew DMR-E95H DVD recorder.

Meanwhile, Panasonic is expected to debut its sixth generation of DVD recorders called the DMR-E95H, which feature an electronic program guide that lets users select programs to record for up to eight days out without any subscription fee or telephone line.

Consumers should expect more innovations this year in camera and video cellphones, said gadgets expert Dick Debartolo. "Sanyo already has a cellphone that allows users to send about 15 seconds of videoclips."

Cellphone maker Nokia (NOK: Research, Estimates) this month launched its new 6820 messaging phone, available through AT&T Wireless (AWE: Research, Estimates) for $349.99. The 6820 comes with a full messaging keyboard, digital camera, mobile e-mail, multi-media messaging service (MMS) and short messaging service (SMS), and Instant Messaging.

Nokia's 9500 Communicator phone  
Nokia's 9500 Communicator phone

For the corporate consumer, Nokia in the fall is introducing the 9500 Communicator phone that comes with an 80 megabyte built-in memory, and business applications like a word processor and spreadsheet program.

"One more trend that I can predict to see tonight is more dirt-cheap, all-in-one type printers," said Debartolo. "We already have printers selling as low as $99 but I think Lexmark may be getting ready to introduce a new $79 printer."

Lemark (LXK: Research, Estimates) was not immediately available for comment.  Top of page

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