he 2008 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) event had everything hot in the world of electronics and we thought we’d share some of it with you. New technology abounds and the automotive side of the industry had new products from many of the staples of the industry along with some new ones. Imagine a single screen in your dash running a PC that can hold music, movies, and run navigation and connect your cell phone and iPod by Bluetooth. The time is now for that and more.
“Integration” was the key word this year. Getting your cell phone, iPod and navigation to all work together in harmony is what it’s all about. Upgrading your system without having to yank out the head unit and still having good sound is another hot topic, and there were plenty of offerings in that regard. MTX, Audio Control and Peripheral Electronics, just to name a few, take your stock head unit’s signal and let you connect amps to power subs, mids and highs. In addition, many offer equalization and the ability to add iPods and other external sources.
Car manufacturers like Ford are getting into integration act with their Ford Sync 2.0 campaign. Located in its own building at CES, Ford showed off its Sync systems, which can do almost all of its commands (dial a cell phone, music searches and even answer text messages) by voice activation. If the airbags are deployed, it will even dial 911 if a Bluetooth phone is connected, and in the event that the occupants are unconscious, it can triangulate your location if the phone is chipped or has GPS.
Shallow subwoofers are also hot, giving you more bass in less space, or even being usable in the package tray of your ’64 Chevy Impala. Pioneer has been the leader in shallow subwoofer design and has added yet another one to their lineup of subs. MTX, JL Audio, Memphis Audio and Critical Mass were also touting their own models. To run those subs, you might want to consider Kicker’s Warhorse amp. Coming in at a whooping 10,000 watts RMS @ 2 ohms/14.4v, it might be just a bit much for a pair of subs, but perfect for that 10 L7 sub-equipped SPL vehicle you wanted to build.
On the head unit front, there were quite a few new releases and one of them that really impressed us was Pioneer’s ASR (Advanced Sound Retrieval) technology. Since most of us these days are listening to compressed music; i.e. MP3 files via our iPods, we’re missing quite a bit of the original sound. Pioneer’s technology restores the sound quality, giving you a fuller sound with more bass; bringing it closer to the original CD. In addition to that, all of the lines have received a facelift with rotary knobs, 65,000-colors OEL (Organic Electro Luminescent) displays, along with Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, SAT radio and more.
Clarion has a head unit with a great look to complement a lowrider interior. The FB275BB also comes in white and features Bluetooth connectivity and an SD card slot. Its innovative design also won it a CES design award. Clarion’s MiND features all-new technology that puts navigation, Internet accessibility and computer-like entertainment features in the palm of your hand. With Wi-Fi and/or WiMAX, whether docked in your car or in the palm of your hand, this high-performance mobile computer will give you everything you need for traveling to the next LRM tour stop and still keep you and your kids entertained with storage for your favorite music and movies. All the while you can stay connected to popular websites like MySpace, Google and You Tube. Real time traffic, address book access, Bluetooth connectivity… there’s just too much to list. Watch for this thing, it looks like it could change the way that we do everyday things.
Alpine, always the innovator and builder of some of the most radical demo cars in the industry, decided to build a boat this year to tout its marine line of products. Showing a host of new products like the PXA-H100 IMPRINT audio processor, which in a few easy steps will optimize sound quality and staging, Alpine had an SPL booth that actually lets you feel the bass… literally. I can tell you from personal experience that 150db is no joke even with ear protection.
Just about any electronic gadget that you could think of was at CES, but here are a few that stood out for us. Panasonic had on display a 150-inch Plasma screen. Yes, that’s a whopping 12 and a half feet diagonally across! Pioneer had a special viewing room dedicated to explaining and showing the company’s new Kuro technology which featured a plasma screen that was 50 inches wide and 9mm thick! That’s 3/4 inch thinner than an iPhone. Sony has similar technology that you can purchase now, and at $2,500 for an 11-inch diagonal screen that’s 3mm thick, it’ll be the hot topic of conversation at your house.
For video gamers, there were controllers of all sorts, and one that was especially interesting used an actual video camera that’s pointed at you and a ghosted image of you appears on the screen of you against your opponent. After a couple of days at CES, you realize that the world’s changing at quite a rapid rate and that the day of the Jetsons and Knight Rider don’t look that far off.