2004 Consumer Electronics Show Products - Gotta-Have-It Gadgets
All The Coolest Gear From The 2004 Consumer Electronics Show
If it's winter, it means that it's time to hit the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). CES is the consumer electronics industry's annual trade show, bringing together manufacturers and retailers in Las Vegas for a preview of the year's hottest products. As a trade event, like the SEMA Show held each November, CES is not open to the general public, but generates tremendous consumer interest. Witness all the gadget geeks getting face time from the show floor on all the network morning news shows.
In-vehicle entertainment, mobile electronics, and 12-volt - or ICE (in-car entertainment) as our British cousins refer it - are major parts of the consumer electronics universe, representing about $4 billion at the retail level. For 2004, as in years past, video has hogged the spotlight, and like the 110-volt world, LCD displays dominate many manufacturer's new-product intros, even with high-definition displays now available for your truck. True mobile theater has never been easier when you mate a crystal-clear high-def display, some as wide as 20 inches, with a satellite system that can track the birds in the sky while you're cruising at 70 mph or more, and mix in a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio system with a massive subwoofer.
CES shares another similarity with SEMA, besides the fact that it's a trade show held in Sin City; Hummer H2s dominated the North Hall mobile electronics exhibit area, in all shapes, sizes, and colors, both raised and slammed. Two that stood out were the black Rockford Fosgate H2 that was ticketed by the CES Noise Police for doing 165 dB in a 95-dB zone and a blue H2 in the Crossfire booth that benefited from a lift that seemed almost to have its roof touch the ceiling.
Lower prices matched up with more features, and better performance continued to set the pace. The same industry forces that can produce a 13-inch TV with a built-in DVD player that can be sold at your local supermarket for less than $100 are pushing down prices (and retailers profits) to historic low levels. This year, as more product production moves to mainland China, where workers make pennies per day (but get company-supported housing), this downward price spiral will accelerate as fast as a Viper-powered Ram SRT-10, fueled in part by aggressive moves by several manufacturers.
The bottom line is this: The products are better than ever, are easier to install, and offer more features and even greater functionality. Some can actually be called user-friendly. If you're looking to upgrade your truck, the time couldn't be better. Some of our top picks are already at your dealers, with the rest expected by early summer. Start saving now.