CES preview: The wireless revolution is finally here

And so the madness begins.

I'm not going to CES (I may have mentioned that before), but I've gotten several pre-show briefings on interesting stuff. And though I'm sworn to secrecy on many of these products until they're announced, two themes are clearly emerging: gadgets are going wireless in a big way, and everything is finally getting connected.

The biggest news IMHO is that Cisco is finally making its long anticipated push into the living room. Later today its Linksys home networking division will introduce a wireless music system they swear will be a Sonos killer. (New York Times blogger Saul Hansell spilled the beans prematurely on that one last week.)

The system combines a bit of the Sonos music system, the EOS, and the 9,427 portable media docking stations currently on the market. It ties into a 802.11n WiFi router and some home network attached storage products Cisco is also announcing. The features are impressive and the price is just a hair cheaper than the Sonos; the real questions are how easy it is to set up and how good it sounds.

I am a huge Sonos fan, so it will need to be pretty damned good to impress me. But Cisco has the kind of market clout few companies can match, so a push into networked home entertainment devices will be interesting to watch.

It's a running joke that every year at CES companies demonstrate a streaming HD video system, which then quietly disappears before it's ever shipped. This time around Gefen says it is already shipping its Wireless for HDMI Extender, which uses Ultrawideband technology to beam 1080p video and 7.1 audio up to 30 feet away. (They first announced this one more than two years ago.) So I think it may finally be safe to say the age of streaming HD has arrived.

Tomorrow another familiar accessories maker will announce a product that lets you move 720p video and stereo audio from your computer to your TV set using Wireless USB. Audiovox has already unveiled its CES Innovations Award-winning ARW51 kit, which can take your existing 5.1 surround system and make it wireless.

And then there are a handful of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink devices that are both intriguing and just a little odd. Silicon Mountain will be showing off its Allio HDTVs, which come with a Blu Ray player and a fully powered Windows Vista PC built into the flat panel. Another household name in the home networking world will introduce a network storage device that doubles as a printer hub, FTP server, and digital photo frame - I kid you not.

Last year consumer electronics companies were all about trying to move Net content onto your TV. This year we'll see more products that actually do that. More important, though, will be a push to making your home network part of THE network - giving you remote access to your stored files from anywhere on the planet. Essentially, creating your own personal cloud. That's the coolest thing of all.

Assuming, of course, that all this stuff actually ships. There's always a heavy mist of vaporware over every CES show. Maybe this year will be different. Hey, one year in Vegas it actually snowed on the The Strip, so anything is possible.

What do you think are the hottest products coming out of Vegas? Post your thoughts below or email me: dan (at) dantynan (dot) com.

Since he's not running around Vegas like a madman, Dan Tynan has more time to tend his blogs, Culture Crash and Tynan on Tech.

Related News and Blogs

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon