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Bill Gates and Sony's Howard Stringer Set Tone

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LAS VEGAS ( -- Sony CEO Howard Stringer surprised tech geeks gathered at the Consumer Electronics Show today, bringing out “The DaVinci Code” author Dan Brown,
Sony CEO Howard Stringer surprised the crowd by bringing actor Tom Hanks on stage.
Microsoft's Bill Gates opened the Consumer Electronics Show.
followed by director Ron Howard, producer Brian Glazer and actor Tom Hanks, who quickly took to teasing Mr. Stringer. “I’ll act anywhere. I’ll do podcasts,” he quipped.

Content and electronics
While Hollywood heavyweights may seem out of place at a gear-head show known for futuristic gizmo announcements, the group rounded out Mr. Stringer’s vision of a holistic future where films, music, computers and electronics work together. In fact, the convergence of content and hardware to create a digital lifestyle emerged as a strong theme at the conference, which drew a teeming crowd of 130,000.

In his talk, Mr. Stringer also discussed the PlayStation Portable game system as a mobile TV viewing device, the 2006 launch of PlayStation 3 console game system and the introduction of the Sony Reader e-book device in March.

“Content and technology are strange bedfellows, but we are joined together,” he said. “And isn’t that, after all, the definition of marriage?”

Awkward pairing
Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Computer, joined Mr. Stringer onstage in a slightly awkward pairing. Just minutes after Mr. Stringer trumpeted Sony’s No. 1 success in the flat-panel LCD TV market, Mr. Dell remarked that two of every five displays in the home are Dells. Still, the two remained collegial in their resolve for Blu-Ray technology as the high-definition video-disc standard over competing HD-DVD discs backed by Microsoft, Intel and others -- an ongoing disagreement getting lots of discussion at this year’s CES.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates gave the conference’s first keynote in a Wednesday pre-show address. (Last year, talk-show host Conan O’Brien joined Mr. Gates onstage.) During his broad and futuristic digital-lifestyle message Mr. Gates offered details and pictures of the Windows Vista operating system to be launched in late 2006 and touted the Xbox 360 game console’s success this holiday season.

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