ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Steve Jobs' big rival has been in Las Vegas. Microsoft founder Bill Gates gave a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is underway this week.
NPR's Laura Sydell is there, and reports that not all of technology's visionaries command as much respect as Gates and Jobs.
LAURA SYDELL: In his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show, Bill Gates gave an homage to the great changes in lifestyle brought about by technology.
Mr. BILL GATES (Founder, Microsoft): The digital decade is happening. And if you look at young people, the new generation, they actually spend more time on their Windows PC than they spend watching TV. Now that's a pretty dramatic change.
SYDELL: Although that isn't stopping anyone from making televisions. Flatscreen, high-definition TVs dominated some areas of the 1.7 million square feet of exhibition space at CES. And there were plenty of mobile phones that play music and video, as well as high-definition cameras and laptop computers. Most had that predictable, slick-gadget look. However, at the corners of the showroom floor, the digital revolution is taking some less expected forms. HANNspree, known for its innovative television designs, showed off a 42-inch TV especially for the kids, says the company's Mike Schroeder.
Mr. MIKE SCHROEDER (HANNspree): It looks like a big fire truck.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SCHROEDER: It has a screen in the middle. I mean, it's full encased. It has the wheels, it has the ladder. It has everything on it that a regular fire truck would have that your kids would play with.
SYDELL: And how much does it go for?
Mr. SCHROEDER: It's going to be $15,000.
SYDELL: That might be a little beyond most toy budgets. But for around $200, Interactive Toy Concepts has just the thing. The company is known for its mini remote-controlled helicopters. One of their latest called the Recon comes with a camera that sends out streaming, live video which maybe more interesting to parents than kids, admits the company's Gene Kosminsky(ph).
Mr. GENE KOSMINKSY (Interactive Toy Concepts): You can actually take that imagery, you can shoot stills or video and then upload that to your computer. So if you want to be able to spy on your kids, for example, you can fly that into their room and, you know, watch it, or - you feel like James Bond for a day, you know. This is the perfect product.
SYDELL: And if you're looking for the perfect fashion accessory, look no further than your laptop. On display were a leather-bound PC notebook. One was designed to look like a Lamborghini. A Dutch company called Ego has a $5,000 portable laptop with a faux leopard skin shell. Meredith Randall of the company AMD shows off the Tulip, as it's called.
Ms. MEREDITH RANDALL (AMD): So it carries more like a handbag than a laptop. And the skin actually pops off, and so there're different colors and patterns you can exchange so it can match your outfit as well as your computing needs.
SYDELL: Although Apple computer CEO Steve Jobs is in San Francisco at the Mac World Expo, the dominance of the iPod portable music player is still felt at CES. There are iPod accessories for almost every occasion. Mike Kilroy of Atlantic, Inc. says, why should a little water get in the way of listening to music on your iPod? His company makes a waterproof shell.
Mr. MIKE KILROY (Atlantic, Inc.): This is for pool parties and - I personally, you know, I could see my wife in a bathtub, putting this - you know, having a nice bath with the iPod in her bathtub, floating on top.
SYDELL: But this is Las Vegas, where Elvis is king.
Unidentified Man (Elvis Impersonator): Oh, yeah. I have to move around. I can't stand still. I've tried it, and I can't do it.
SYDELL: Wow Wee Robotics has turned its high level of technology to bringing Elvis back, at least from the chest up. The company's Art Janis says he thinks his robots will be a must have for every Elvis lover.
Mr. ART JANIS (Wow Wee Robotics): What we've done here is put 10 motors in Elvis. He comes with a cartridge with eight songs and over 30 monologues, and he's synched up to those songs. But everything will be exactly like having Elvis in your house. And the hair, everything has been duplicated to make Elvis perfect.
SYDELL: That's not a real leather jacket.
Mr. JANIS: It's pleather - part leather, part plastic.
(Soundbite of song, “Heartbreak Hotel”)
Mr. ELVIS PRESLEY (Musician): (Singing) Well, since my baby left, well, I found a new place to dwell.
SYDELL: On Thursday, Elvis will leave the building when the 2007 Consumer Electronic Show comes to an end.
Laura Sydell, NPR News, Las Vegas.
Mr. PRESLEY: (Singing) …so lonely. I'm feeling so lonely I could die. Although it's always crowded, you still can find some room.
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