LG Electronics officially announced Sunday morning one of the worst kept secrets of this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
The company's BH100 will play both Blu-ray and HD DVD discs, the first device of its kind--a clear victory for consumers who worried about having to choose between two competing, next-generation high-definition DVD players.
In recent months, the escalating war between the Blu-ray camp, which has strong backing from Sony Corp. because a Blu-ray disc is included in the PlayStation 3, and the HD DVD side, led by Toshiba, has introduced a slew of competing players.
But for consumers needing to shell out more than a $1,000 for players in some cases, choosing the wrong one could be costly.
Now it looks like LG's combo player, which is headed to the U.S. and priced at $1,199, could head off a looming disaster similar to the Betamax/VHS wars of the 1980s. With this device, and odds are strong that more manufacturer's will follow suit, buyers won't need to worry that they are purchasing a player that won't be supported five years from now.
LG first announced it was developing such a product at last year's CES, but shelved the plans after some technical difficulties. It now looks like the company's figured it out.
BIG, BIG, TV
As always at a trade show that's intended for companies to flex their muscles, there is at least one product on display that makes you wonder whether this is something most people will really need.
Consider Sharp's 108-inch LCD monitor, the world's biggest display for home use, which is more than twice the size of the most common LCD or Plasma high-def models sold today.
It's unclear when this video Godzilla will go on sale, if ever (I overheard someone say there were only four produced), but you can bet there's some crazy football fan out there who can't wait to recreate Soldier Field's video charm in their basement.
In a surprise to no one who covers mobile gadgets, Palm Inc. will introduce it's latest smart phone on Monday, the Treo 750. It will be on the CES show floor as well as available at Cingular Wireless stores, priced at $399 with a two-year contract.
What is surprising, however, is that the 750 looks a lot like the Treo 680, introduced in December by Cingular for half that price. There are key differences, but those are tough to justify for the steeper price.
For one, the 750 runs on Cingular's 3G network, which is faster than the Edge network the 680 runs on. Secondly, it runs on the Windows Mobile operating system, not the Palm OS.
The Palm 750 is geared to the corporate IT decision maker who wants a mobile device that's easy to deploy and works with the existing corporate network, according to Tara Griffin, a Palm vice president.
Cingular is also pushing this as a "world phone," a device for the global road warrior who wants to get off a plane in London or Paris and easily access e-mail. It's a five-band phone, designed to be compatible with several mobile networks.
It does have some nice features, including "ignore with text" that sends a text message back to the caller saying, "I'm in a meeting" or "will call you back shortly" if the phone user is busy. Also, the phone stores 'threads' of instant message conversations for recall of recent chats.
Like most smart phones today, it also works with several types of e-mail services, including Hotmail, AOL, Gmail or MSN Messenger.
But here's the upshot: these are minor improvements to a product that better slim down fast. The Palm Treo line is still way too chunky (and costly) compared to the stylishly thin and more portable Motorola Q, Samsung BlackJack and T-Mobile Dash.
Those, too, run Windows Mobile and if Palm doesn't go on a diet real soon, it's hard to imagine we'll be writing about their new product launches for much longer.
(Throughout the Consumer Electronics Show, technology reporter and Tech Buzz columnist Eric Benderoff will file reports from the show floor in Las Vegas.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun