CNET unveiled its choice of "The Next Big Thing" in consumer electronics for 2004 during a special event this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. After months of observing product manufacturers' development facilities, discussions with manufacturers and venture capitalists, and their own laboratory testing of a variety of products, the CNET Editors identified four technologies as the category killers for 2004. They include:
Portable Video Players: These pocket-size devices are expected to change where and how people watch movies, TV shows, home and music videos.
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs): With the freedom to create a personalized TV line-up without the hassle of videotapes, plus the ability to skip commercials, DVRs are changing the way people watch TV.
Wi-Fi for home entertainment: Not just for the tech savvy anymore, Wi-Fi is reinventing home entertainment, making it easy to use video and music content that was once thought only for the PC in throughout the house.
Smartphones: Take the blockbuster hits of personal technology - mobile phones, the internet and personal computing - put them in a pocket size package and you get the smartphone.
Rather than picking "pie-in-the-sky" technologies that haven't reached consumers yet, the CNET Editors selected product categories that are becoming widely available, and are influencing the way consumers use technology in their everyday life. Attendees at The Next Big Thing event were given a unique opportunity to hear CNET editors discuss and debate each category's innovations, as well as critique their imperfections with executives from top consumer electronics companies.