CES in the Spotlight

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Mac users are accustomed to Macworld Expo dominating the news every January. But as major as the biannual Macintosh trade show is to the Mac community, it’s not the largest high-tech-related event taking place this month. That honor goes to the International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, which took place in Las Vegas this past week.

As sprawling as CES may be, the trade show has never really registered with Mac users. Why? Because apart from a handful of printers, digital cameras, and other hardware products, CES is dominated by PC-centric offerings from companies who think a Macintosh is something they pick up in the produce section at the grocery store.

That’s changed this year. As Playlistmag.com Editor in Chief Christopher Breen noted earlier this week, the iPod is casting a long shadow at CES, with electronics companies trotting out either anti-iPod competitors or iPod-friendly components. Playlist’s Dan Frakes has a rundown of some of his favorite iPod accessories appearing at CES this week. Among the iPod-compatible products showcased at CES this week were a battery charger from Compact Power Systems, a Bluetooth stereo adapter and headphones from TEN Technology, Pioneer Electronics’ iPod car adapter, and a mobile interface kit from Audiovox. Audiovox also introduced a Mac-compatible 5GB MP3 player, with other music-playing devices unveiled by Creative and Archos.

But Apple’s influence on this year’s CES extended beyond a slew of iPod gadgets. In a keynote kicking off the trade show, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates used his company’s existing products to outline his vision of the digital lifestyle. If you think that sounds similar to something a certain mock-turtleneck-clad CEO was talking about two years ago, you’re not the only one to notice.

Of course, it wouldn’t be CES without a few hardware announcements that should interest Mac users. Among the developers making news are:

  • Canon, which showcased new printers and a new scanner as well as mini DV camcorders;
  • Olympus, which introduced three new digital cameras;
  • Seagate, which began shipping a 400GB hard drive with one-button backup capabilities; and
  • Sonic, which announced it would support both the Blu-Ray and HD DVD data recording standards in its consumer programs. (Sonic recently bought Roxio, makers of Toast, Jam, and Popcorn.)
  • MacCentral.com has a complete archive of CES-related news, including photos from the trade show floor.

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