January 11, 2007

Upon the cutting edge!

As part of Possumblogís insistence in 2007 of being NEW and BOLD and FRESH, weíre gonna take the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three (The Worldís Most Exciting New, Bold, and Fresh Online Diversion!) to some new places today!

Specifically, Las Vegas, and Detroit, and Harrisburg!

Yep, today weíre going to ask you for your thoughts on the swanky 40th Annual Consumer Electronics Show, the super-sexy 100th North American International Auto Show, and the ultra-cool 91st Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest indoor agricultural show in the entire country!

As usual, the media buzz surrounding these events is deafening, and in order to stay out there where all the hip and savvy people are, weíd like to solicit your opinions about what all youíve heard and seen there.

SO, take a moment and tell us:

1) What do you think is the most significant product introduced at the Consumer Electronic Show?

2) What is the biggest surprise of the Detroit Auto Show?

3) What one thing are you most excited about at the Farm Show?

After youíve all had a chance to visit all the venues, leave your comments below or a link to your blog, and letís find out whatís HOT this year!!

As for my answers:

1) Well, all the attention is on Appleís new dessert topping/floor wax iPhone, and I suppose it does what itís supposed to do.

At some point there has to be a point, though, where thereís too much stuff on something like this. But looking around at electronics, it doesnít seem that things that can call - text - e-mail - surf - game - music - two-way - page - taser - bake - photo - video - slice - dice - julienne etc., have reached that point yet. For me, Iím still trying to wait out the technology and let everything settle down--I donít quite see the point in buying all this stuff if itís outdated in three months. I also am a bit dubious of the need for people to have universal instant access to me. I donít really want to be able to be found quite so easily, because you invariably have to go do something youíd rather not do. And Iím not sure the one-thing-does-all model works all that well. From using the variety of old hand tools I have, sometimes itís hard to beat a purpose-made tool that does one thing extraordinarily well, rather than a combination of things that doesnít do anything particularly well. People seem to love the Leatherman-type combo tools (and I have several myself), but thereís still nothing as good as a real pair of pliers or a real knife. Anyway, Iíd be willing to try out a new iPhone if theyíd send me one.

2) Well, to me the biggest surprise is the new Chevrolet Malibu, mainly because it actually looks nice, and sounds like it might actually be worth owning. Iím not in the market, but for those who are and are looking for a good midsized sedan, for once in a very long time, this looks like something worth shopping. I do wish Chevy could see its way to offering a performance-oriented SS model, but having something that looks this nice is surprise enough, I suppose.

Other pleasant surprises are a much less goofy-looking Focus and the continued good words for Mercedesí Bluetec diesel engine technology. Still hard to beat the power vs. cost of plain old gasoline, though, but itís nice to have a usable alternative to hybrid or fuel cell technology.

Bad ideas? The continued living room-ization of cars, where technology is being pushed that isolates the driver from the task of actually staying awake and paying attention to piloting the vehicle. The continued race to add video and audio and cellular and wifi and hands-free parking and other entertainment-oriented stuff tends to make the driver something more like a passenger along for the ride. It all seems designed for people who donít particularly like cars or driving very much.

3) Oh, well I think that the addition of the Boer goats is very fresh and exciting, as is the introduction of Texels to the Junior market Lamb division. Also, the interest in alternative biomass/biofuels energy sources is good to see. And donít miss the Milk (Yeah, I Like Milk) Rap!

So, there you go.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 08:16 AM

I read that Focus will stop producing the Focus wagon, if it hasn't already. What will I replace my '97 wagon with when the time comes?

I really like this little car as a town car. It's just the right size and shape for my purposes. And Lyman's sons just took it to Dallas to see their mother for $30 in gas each way.

Posted by: Janis Gore at January 11, 2007 08:37 AM

1) I'm going to have to go with the iPhone as well. It just seems like its going to be really cool.

2) The Chevy Volt concept car, though I'm wondering about the long distance car trips. It would seem like they'd be out of the question. Not that it would be a bad thing overall. The other question for me would be charging it while you're at work.

3) It's a tie between the WiFi access, (I'm a tech geek at heart) and this year's celebrity participants in the milk-off.

I'm just saying the group assembled is pretty interesting.

That's all I got. Enjoy the day!

Posted by: Dre at January 11, 2007 08:39 AM

1. I haven't been paying too much attention to the show, but in related news, Miss Kathie is starting to think that maybe satellite radio in the Intrepid is better than replacing the CD player. It's certainly a smaller initial cost, and trivial installation.

2. Again, not paying too much attention to the show, but Kathie's got her eye on the new Chrysler Sebring for when we replace the Intrepid.

3. I'm sure my cousins in IL and MO know of some really exciting things at the farm show, but I don't.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at January 11, 2007 08:51 AM

Janis, you may be out of luck unless you want one of the various crossover-type vehicles, at least if you're shopping Fords. The Ford Edge is closest to a small wagon they're going to have. In the entire corporate range, a better choice might be the Mazda6 wagon. Sweet, although a bit on the highish side. Also the Mazda5 mini-minivan sort of thing is nice looking. The 3 versions aren't really wagonny. The Subaru Impreza and Forenza are both pretty good, even if the names are stupid. The PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR both offer lots of space behind the back seat, although not everyone loves the retro look.

Andre, I like the way the Volt looks, and the plug-in is nice, and thankfully, it does have a gasoline engine for when you need to go more than 40 miles. The trick is going to be finding a place to plug it in that is being paid for by someone else...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 09:05 AM

I wouldn't drive a Cruiser. They're too tacky.

I'm interested in the Skoda Roomster, but I don't see repairing that here. Though Ricky keeps a lot full of foreign cars at his repair shop.

Posted by: Janis Gore at January 11, 2007 09:08 AM

Saturn makes a wagon. It's a little larger than I need but would do.

Posted by: Janis Gore at January 11, 2007 09:26 AM

I forgot about Saturn, but it would be good. I believe Nate had a joke about Skodas: What do you call a convertible Skoda? A dumpster.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 09:38 AM

I'm not enough of a geek to get much of a handle on the tech show, but the Wi-Fi idea intrigues me. I saw in the Birmingham News today that the Ross Bridge area of Hoover will have Wi-Fi soon--I'd like it very much if we could have Wi-Fi along the Highway 280 corridor!

As for the auto show: I have to say I rather like that Saturn Aura--would have never figured SATURN would have attractive cars like the Aura and the Sky. But I am curious as to how the Aura will compare to Toyota and Honda durability-wise.

Posted by: Stan at January 11, 2007 09:56 AM

Personally, I think they'll be pretty good, and better than earlier Saturns. But I still don't think they've got the committment to continual improvement (at least not yet) that the Japanese makers have.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 09:59 AM

Well, look at that. Saturn cancelled the L-series, which included the wagon. It's replaced by the Aura.

Posted by: Janis Gore at January 11, 2007 10:16 AM

I'm up, but I'm not quite sure I'm playing as intended.

Posted by: skinnydan at January 11, 2007 10:41 AM

Iím UP and itís not even noon.

Posted by: jim at January 11, 2007 10:52 AM

I'm up and I'm a little more excited than Skinnydan.

Posted by: Sarah G. at January 11, 2007 11:19 AM

1. The combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD player (LG Electronics?). It's a $1000 now, but that price will probably come down closer to $200 before too long. Everyone thinks this is another betamax-vhs thing, but it's not.

2. I'm surprised Ford was able to show up. They could have a Chinese "surname" next year.

3. John Deere is making more profit on clothing licenses than tractors.

Posted by: Marc V at January 11, 2007 11:38 AM

It won't be long before the Chinese are going to be big players in the car market internationally.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 11:46 AM


A friend, who's as vertically challenged as Kathie, told her that she can't see out of her husband's PT Cruiser very well. Another possibility is the Dodge Caliber/Jeep Compass.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at January 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Hmmm, Steevil. Those are interesting.

My little Escort wagon is a stripped down model. It has power doorlocks for the front doors and hatch that I never use. The windows crank.

I want air-conditioning, auto transmission, cruise control and a radio.

Posted by: Janis Gore at January 11, 2007 02:03 PM

Stupid work. At least I'm here.

1. Probably the iphone (Apple is being sued over the name, BTW). I hate to go look, because looking stirs up wanting, which does Very Bad Things to the budget.

2. Once again, looking does VBT to the budget, particularly as my lease expires next month. I'm not much enamored of the direction of some of the design - I'm not a fan of the deep front end with the big, flat, ugly grill. (Are those terms too technical?!) I want sleek, fast and powerful, none of which I can afford.

3. Have to go along with the celebrity cow milking.

Posted by: Diane at January 11, 2007 02:16 PM

#1 I think the price drop and improved picture quality of digital HD sets is one of the big news stories. The biggest news is the FCC says that 2009 is it for free over the air analog TV. I see nothing out there from any one making that happen, there is no push from the CE or Fed Gov making this happen.

#2 I see no big new surprise from the show. Nothing strikes as more than incremental change and still more "pie in the future but no pie now".

#3 There's good news in the rise of direct farm to consumer co-ops. This is happening both for fruits and veggies and meat/dairy products. Better quality to the best customers is stealing sales from super markets and forcing them to raise their levels up to compete. I also like the push for better taste along with the other industry needs.

Posted by: Chef Tony at January 11, 2007 02:23 PM

Yes, Diane--the only bad thing about the celebrity milking contest is that with so many celebrities, it's hard to tell who to pull for.

So to speak.

(Actually, that's a lie--I always cheer for the cutest contestant, which I think is Kristin Ebersole.)

As for the death of analog TV, it's worrisome to me Tony because we have so many sets, which means either a bunch of converters to go out and buy.

Oh, well. It's only money, right?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 02:35 PM

But just think of it, Terry! All that crappy TV, now in 1080x794 megapixel Jigawatts! Aren't you dying to watch a toupeed millionaire calling an overweight, loudmouthed harpy names in Hi-def?

And that's just C-Span!

Posted by: skinnydan at January 11, 2007 02:51 PM

I'd much rather watch a milking contest.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 11, 2007 02:56 PM