What a difference a year makes. I walked into the same hotel
and a room that seemed identical to the one I stayed during the last CES. Then,
I began noticing differences: a wall-mounted widescreen TV, a clock radio with an
iPod dock, and a sign on the now tube-free bureau proclaiming wireless
high-speed Internet access. Had I died and gone to heaven on the Vegas Strip?
I discovered that the Philips FlatTV receives 12 high-def
channels from Cox Cable. (It was a plasma, ironic considering that Philips is now
narrowing its focus to LCDs.) Taking into account that hotels in this town
typically limit guests’ in-room viewing choices to crappy channels in order to
get them into the casino, finding as many high-def channels here as I get at
home is remarkable.
If that wasn’t enough, the black and silver iHome radio opposite
the TV sported slots for an Apple nano or a shuffle, and there was a line in.
Instructions for guests were printed atop the radio. To use your iPod, you turned
a knob so you could fit your music player into the slot, then back so the radio
would grab the player in a vertical hug. I attached my iPod Touch to the “nano”
slot. But when I pressed the iPod button on the radio, silence prevailed. It
took me a few minutes to figure out that the radio was unplugged —
the time on the face was made possible by battery backup. Once plugged in, I
filled the room with my favorite tunes unencumbered by earbuds. At CES iHome will
be joined by dozens of manufacturers introducing tabletop radios or boomboxes
that can dock to an iPod. It’s a feature as important today as playing a CD
Of course, no matter how many channels the hotel could
provide or how many tunes I could ever hope to load into my Touch, the number
of selections would always pale by comparison to the millions of entertainment choices
available anytime on the Internet. My notebook easily found the hotel’s
connection. I opened the browser and agreed to the terms: “A charge of $12.99
for 24 hours will be billed to your room.” Hey, it was the same price as one pay-per-view
As a tech head, I’m happy to report that my hotel surprised
me with its triple play. Now, if I only can get the bathroom door to stay ajar
without being forced to place a trash can and
a towel in its path.
UPDATE: Spoke to soon. On Monday evening, the hotel lost internet service for a couple of hours. The extreme broadband-demands of the guests blew out the system.
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