Most people think of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as a showcase of everything new, but the annual multi-conference-center sprawl of technology has been around since 1967. Since then, numerous groundbreaking products have made their debut at CES. Some of these, like the VCR and the compact disc player, were revolutionary. Others, like the Blu-ray and HD radio, significantly enhanced existing technology.
Every year, geeks and technophiles scour CES, looking for everything from dramatic breakthroughs to practical, handy gadgets. Here are the highlights of what members of the HowStuffWorks staff saw as they made their way around the show floor. We'll start with some of the most dramatic displays -- which, unfortunately, you can't take home with you.
Honda's Sprinting ASIMO
As long-time fans of Honda's humanoid robot, we were particularly excited to see ASIMO at CES. ASIMO's latest iteration can run at close to 4 miles per hour (6.4 kilometers per hour). The newest model can also use a cart to move and carry objects. A new communications card lets the robot recognize people, and cameras and kinesthetic sensors let ASIMO move in tandem with humans.
Sharp's 108-inch AQUOS LCD TV
You can pick up one of Sharp's high-definition AQUOS LCDtelevisions at a number of electronics and home entertainment stores. But you can't go out and buy the most impressive one -- at least not yet. Sharp's 108-inch model is, for the moment, a prototype. And while its enormous size is almost startling, its picture is surprisingly clear. It is, as one staffer put it, "The most amazing thing I've ever seen."
Next, we'll take a look at some geeky toys that are a little more likely to make it home.