For the first time in its 25-year history, the Consumer Electronics Show May 30 and 31 is opening its doors to the public. CES spills over from McCormick Place to the McCormick Center Hotel and the Chicago Hilton and Towers on Michigan Avenue. CES is very much a World's Fair, with hundreds of exhibitors from dozens of countries with plenty of sounds, lights and excitement.
The two "must see" booths will be Sharp, the world leader in liquid crystal display technology, and Panasonic/Technics. Per square foot, Sharp and Panasonic display the maximum number of desirable gadgets from tiny TVs to super VCRs, not to mention bread bakers and fax machines. Get in line for the THX demonstration theater at Technics. Then take a look a Sharp's high-definition LCD projection TV.
The ultimate home theater demo will be staged by JBL, showcasing its Synthesis Home Media System. JBL accompanies a computer quality projection monitor several feet wide with 1,400 watts of sound in a full THX system.
There are many unusually shaped TV screens as RCA, returning to the CES floor for the first time in many years, displays its 16:9 wide aspect ratio TVs. They are a prelude to high definition television. Unlike HDTV, you can buy RCA's 16:9 TVs (which are adaptable to HDTV) later this year. Some of RCA's new TVs finally broke the boxy mold with intriguing styling.
Rear-screen projection TVs will fill the floor. This new generation of TVs project brighter pictures viewable from a wider angle than ever before. You can easily view them even in the bright lights of McCormick Place.
In audio, Philips, Technics, Marantz, Tandy and others will showcase the newest tape technology, digital compact cassette.
These new decks record digitally on a tape similar to the familiar cassette. Better still, the decks will play back your analog cassettes. DCC sounds better than the best analog tapes outside a recording studio and are close in quality to CD.
The big trend in audio is two-piece CD players with separate transports and digital to analog converters. Some of the best of these come from Wadia and Linn. They definitely sound better than most of the players, but they cost more than 10 times as much.