CES 2008: Digital Media Convergence and Photo Geotagging Gizmos

NBC Universal, which has a huge presence at this year’s CES, was kind enough to offer us a slot at their live blogging station in Central Hall. As Jonathan Accarino of NBCU put it, their goal here in a nutshell is “consumer, content, connection.” They are also giving away free content, such as TV shows and movies as a way to promote their activities.

We spent the morning in South Hall and found a few noteworthy CE items that have either been announced for release later this year or are already available.

First up was the Netgear HD/Gaming 5GHz Wireless-N Networking Kit, which has enough bandwidth to allow you to stream High Def video over its 5GHz link, unlike say 802.11g WiFi. So with the starter pair of these, you can stream 1080p HD from your computer to a digital media device viewable on your TV. Naturally you can use these for many other applications but Netgear is marketing towards converging digital media in the family room. A single unit retails for $129 but you need to start with a pair for $229.

Another digital media product already available is the Sansa TakeTV from SanDisk. This USB stick comes with either 4 or 8GB of onboard storage and a PC application that takes video and converts it into MP4 and copies it to the stick. Currently, you can obtain free content from providers like NBC, Bravo and others. Since the unit has DVR type software built in, the stick has a neat embedded remote control that slides off for controlling playback of the video on the stick when you plug in the unit to the docking station to watch on TV. While the unit is nice and light, the compression means that the video does look a bit pixelated, so don’t expect HiDef quality, but the device is still great for on-the-go entertainment. The 4GB stores 5 hours of video and costs $99; 8GB is $149.

The 3rd item was perhaps the most innovative and useful product we encountered this morning. It’s called the GPS Photo Finder and it’s made by a small company called ATP that mostly works with memory. The Photo Finder is a portable device that you carry around with you when you take pictures. When you’re done taking pictures, just take the memory card (SD/MMC/MS) from your digital camera and insert it into the Photo Finder which automatically Geotags your photos. You can geotag your pics later on and at a different location and it will be accurate as long as you walked around with the Photo Finder because it uses timestamps to correlate your photos with where you were at the time. A neat application is to use Google Earth and/or Picasa to embed your photos in a map. The GPS Photo Finder will be available in a few weeks starting around $99 from vendors like Costco, Target and Amazon. Here’s a video of it working: