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January 10, 2007 8:30 AM

The future of television hardware

Posted by Brier Dudley

LAS VEGAS -- Ben Romano has a nifty story on new technology at CES that blends the TV and the PC.

While we work through that transition, consumer electronics companies are coming up with all sorts of cool TVs that seem to work pretty well without a computer attached.

Companies are still racing to build the biggest high-def panels, but they seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on their work to improve the quality of LCD displays in particular.

LG made a splash with its $1,200 dual-format devices that play both HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs, bridging the high-definition DVD format war.

But the company also some far out television on display, including a 3D set that was playing "Star Wars" for a huge crowd of geeks and a "green" LCD with a frame made of wood.

Here's a sampling of the screens you can see at CES.

This is LG's wood-framed 60-in.' plasma TV. It has two HDMI inputs and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, but it looks like veneered MDF, not real wood:


A close up of the wood plasma, which is only a prototype:

It looks like just another 60-in. high-def plasma TV, which would be ho-hum at CES nowadays. But this LG has a built-in digital video recorder with a 160-gigabyte hard-drive that "rewinds" ands pauses live TV, just like a TiVo but with no service fees. It also has inputs to record and play video content from a PC, like a Media Center in reverse. It's also available in 50-in. and 42-in.' panels and some models are already in stores:

LG also displayed wireless GPS device that also functions as a TV tuner. The LGN1 has a 3.5'' screen, dual speakes and the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system:

It was overshadowed by the Apple iPhone, but the LG9400 mobile phone/television still drew a crowd. The price wasn't disclosed but it's coming to market by March. It doesn't receive over the air signals, though; you have to subscribe to a video service through Verizon or other service providers:

Among the TVs displayed by Sanyo was a bright touchscreen that's aimed for kiosks and interactive displays. But it would also be cool to use as a monitor with Windows Vista:

Perfect for Seattle? Sanyo's rain-resistant LCD monitor and camcorder:

Sony's prototype OLED TVs made all the LCDs and plasmas seem big and out of date:

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.