Between CES and Macworld there’s been lots of neato things announced lately!

Here’s what’s exciting to me!

Apple’s iPhone

It looks neat but I really like to have tactile feedback in a phone. A touchscreen might be fancy-looking, but $500 is just too much for a phone that won’t let you install third-party applications.

I’m already a Cingular customer and I’m not stuck in any contract right now, so if the contract pricing isn’t totally insane and a hands-on demo of the phone looks good I might get it anyway. It’s just hard to give up the best most reliable phone I’ve ever had, and the iPhone doesn’t really fulfill a need for me.

Windows Home Server

Microsoft announced Windows Home Server at CES. I’ve always wanted a consumer-level NAS device for my home – something that can store all of my music, movies, and ROMs all in once place and protect it all with RAID5. The problem with just buying a consumer-level NAS like a Buffalo TeraStation is that you’ll wind up with a no-frills shared network folder via Samba and/or FTP. That’s great, but it means you’ll still need a powered-on PC somewhere on your network running the Tivo desktop software, Xbox 360 connectivity software, Shoutcast server, and whatever other specialized network applications you’ve got that’d make use of whatever media you’ve got stored on your NAS.

Windows Home Server is basically a NAS with embedded Windows so it can take over all of those tasks. There’s no longer a need to drain your desktop PC’s resources to transfer media to and from a Tivo, for example. The downside is that there’s no web interface for it (yet).

Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II is heading to the Xbox 360 in March. It’ll ship with 10 more songs than the PS2 version and you’ll be able to download additional songs through the Marketplace for a fee. The bad news about the controller is that it won’t be wireless because Microsoft just can’t shake that whole monopoly bug. The good news is that it has a ‘mystery’ port that’ll more than likely be used to connect a distortion pedal in future titles. There’s no word yet if you’ll be able to battle or play co-op over Xbox Live, but at least they’ve confirmed there will be leaderboards.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

This is playable on the show floor at CES and should be downloadable in early 2007. This is great news. There’s a whole generation of gamers out there who never knew the PS1 and the awesomeness of the greatest Castlevania title of all time (although the GBA and DS games have been pretty amazing!)

Konami claims that audio took up the bulk of space on the game disc in 1997 and that by using modern-day compression they’ll have no problem getting the game to fit into the 50MB XBLA space requirement. They’ve rewritten the game engine from the ground up and will even let you toggle between the original or “enhanced for HD” graphics.

Panasonic Announces 50″ 1080p Plasma

Press release. It’s not up on their website yet, but the TH-50PZ700U is new for 2007 and is Panasonic’s first 50″ 1080p. They’re also showing a prototype 42″ 1080p plasma but have no plans to sell that this year. It’s nice to see Panasonic has finally ditched those cheap-looking silver plastic bezels and have gone to all-black styling.

I’m sure there’s more neat stuff that’s been announced this week but these are the highlights according to me!

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