Friday, January 06, 2006


LAS VEGAS — In the self-proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World, tech companies are starring this week: Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have huge tents begging attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show to come in and be wowed. Perennial exhibitors such as Panasonic, Samsung and LG were on hand.

Yamaha, also a regular, displayed a beautiful, shiny, red piano in the center of its booth. Price: a cool $80,000. The instrument is a limited edition, autographed, Elton John "Red Piano," named after the show in which he performs at Caesars Palace here. It's an updated player piano of sorts — a Disklavier. John has recorded five songs, including Candle in the Wind and Tiny Dancer, that can be played in your living room, through the piano, at the flick of a switch. It even has speakers, and John croons — just for you.

Other entertaining hot stuff at the show:

Video camcorder sales took a surprisingly big tumble last year, according to a year-end fact sheet from the Consumer Electronics Association.

U.S. sales fell to 4.5 million units in 2005, from 5.5 million units in 2004, and the CEA projects flat sales in 2006. Meanwhile, digital camera sales jumped to 24.6 million in 2005, from 18.8 million in 2004. It appears that more and more consumers are opting instead to shoot video on "still" digital cameras, where video quality has been getting better and better. CEA projects sales of 26.1 million digital cameras for 2006.

There's finally a way to save your home movies and transfer them to video iPods and Sony PlayStation portables. Home-video editing software maker Pinnacle Systems introduced a downloadable software update that allows users of its Studio 10 program to save homemade productions to iPod and PSP formats.



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