Across the walkway I see a commotion at the Casio booth, which is showing watch prototypes that do things Dick Tracy never considered. There's a gaming watch, developed with Atari, and also the iR-a.k.a. the credit card watch-which stores all your payment information. Just point it at a compatible cash register and your purchase is automatically processed.
While notably sparse this year, Sanyo's booth has more prototypes (not to mention products available only in Japan) than any other. I love the Digital Memory Recorder (PD77R), a Walkman-size device with a built-in MP3 encoder that lets you make digital recordings directly from any source on the go. Another favorite is a mobile phone that features a dinner-mint-size display.
I move on to the half-naked bodies over at Sharp. Models with glitter-covered bellies are talking up televisions while synchronized swimmers and divers cavort inside a 7,000-gallon blue-tinted transparent pool. What this has to do with TVs, I'm not sure, but I want one of Sharp's new Aquos TVs anyway. Designed by Toshiyuki Kita, these LCD models are curvy and retro-futuristic, with silver-matte finishes and stands shaped like cartoon-character feet. Along with Samsung, Sharp has lowered the price of its 15-inch models to $1,199, down from $5,000 a year ago.
Leaving the big-name booths behind, I head to the two-story South Hall, home to small-time inventors, third-tier accessory salesmen, and obscure-import dealers. Here I run into Daryl Fazekas, who's invented the Guy's Keyboard, a $40 contraption aimed at hunt-and-peck typists (all the vowels are in the center). At the Hidden Camera Solutions booth, I check out the array of coffee makers, fans, and other household appliances embedded with hidden cameras. The strangest demonstration happens at Taser International. Several guys are encouraging a friend to get shot by the Advanced Taser M26, a consumer version of the notorious stun gun. A big guy confidently agrees. As he's zapped, he utters something inaudible, his eyes roll back, and he goes limp. The crowd roars.
At CES, folks, that's entertainment.