CES Dispatch--The Demo Demons Strike Again

Seems like consumer electronics companies are finally catching on. A major theme of this year’s annual Consumer Electronics Show is simplifying gadgets for the masses. Unfortunately, the companies trying to demonstrate just how they’re going to do this, snafus during their live demos illustrated they’ve got a long way to go to translate talk into action. First Samsung Electronics, which introduced a new slogan “Life…Made Simple,” tried to get a wireless HD camcorder to beam its information to a Web-connected HDTV. Nada. The embarrassed exec had to call up a technician to get it working, as journalists chortled over the snafu. Then Sony executives had troubles when they tried to show off a technology called near-field communications. The very short-distance wireless transfer technology is being adopted in the cell phone industry, but Sony is aiming to make it more widespread in devices such as digital cameras and printers, DVD players and televisions for quickly transferring content over distances of just a few inches (you essentially dock one device next to the receiving device). It, too, failed to work—though live demos went well after the news event. Both problems were a reminder that despite the rush to go completely wireless in the home, the old-fashioned but ugly cords and cables of yesteryear still do the job quite reliably.

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