September 28, 2007 1:09 PM PDT

At DigitalLife, cool toys but no clear direction

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The events schedule was disjointed, too. Attendance at keynote presentations, many of which had an industry focus, was woefully low on Thursday and Friday, unless one of many high school groups showed up to fill the seating. But a presentation about the lucrative future of casual online gaming by Steve Youngwood, MTV Networks' executive vice president of kids' and family digital media, was a big yawn for the small audience of under-18s, some of whom left the speech early to play games rather than hear about them.

But all was not lost. For general attendees, many of whom may not have known that many electronics geeks swear by NewEgg or that HD DVD really does look a lot better onscreen than traditional DVD, the show was probably a productive experience.

The convention would do better for itself if it focused on the consumer and didn't try to imitate that other gadget show, the Consumer Electronics Show that's held in Las Vegas every January. And when DigitalLife stuck to digital-world education, it shone. A student-oriented talk hosted by Trend Micro executives provided an entertaining and informative take on how to keep your identity safe online--something you just don't learn in school.

Students visiting the convention on field trips were also drawn into Qualcomm Senior Vice President Jeffrey Belk's talk about how technology has changed the travel experience as he contrasted a 1983 post-college excursion around Europe with a recent 110-day trek around the world.

On the earlier trip, his only communication back home was with phone cards and spare cash at payphones. But on the recent trip, his family was equipped with two laptops, two 3G cell phones, a BlackBerry and an HDSPA card.

If I learned anything from DigitalLife, it's that digital life is real life. And you can't confine real life to a cavern of carpeted square footage at the Javits Center.

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Gutter Cleaning Robot
I don't want to predict and seriously, I doubt it will sell. BUT, having to pay quite a bit of money to have my gutter clean recently (which I had not been cleaning for some years, mainly due to laziness and the firm belief of if it ain't broke, don't fix it), I couldn't help but think that if this robot ends up selling unexpectedly well, all those naysayers (including me) should print out their negative comments and eat their own words. I mean, as silly as it looks, we really won't know how it actually work in a real environment. YES, it's not fully automated, but may be if we put it to work, the non-automatic problem isn't so annoying. And, if it does a fair job in cleaning the gutter, it will only take one satisfied customer to spread the words out.
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