Every once in a while you spot an idea or a product that is light years ahead of the rest of the industry.

Think in terms of the original Macintosh, or the first Palm Pilot. Even Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone falls into that same category -- not the first product in that genre (personal computer, PDA or smartphone) but a quantum leap ahead of what came before it.

That's how much significantly better Sony's ( SNE) new OLED TV is -- compared with any projector or flat-screen TV you have ever seen.

CES '08: Sony's OLED TV Is The Big Winner.

OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode. OLED is a technology that uses carbon-based organic material in a process that converts electric energy into light. In addition to this new technology producing the most amazingly real television picture, it also allows Sony to create the thinnest-ever TV (three millimeters).

OLEDs emit light and do not require a backlight. That allows these new TVs to be not only very thin but capable of producing amazing results: a million-to-one contrast ratio compared with a paltry 14,000-to-one ratio in current plasma or LED panels.

According to Sony: "OLED's light-emitting structure prevents light emission when reproducing shades of black: OLED technology reproduces very deep blacks and can control all the phases of light emission, expressing colors and subtleties that conventional displays cannot match."

The display of these new OLED TVs, here at the show, is absolutely stunning. There's no other word I can think of to describe what TV looks like when viewed on this new technology. Colors look better than on any other TV screen. Objects look absolutely, three-dimensionally real. Movements look smooth and fluid (not always the case with old-fashioned LED TVs).

Best of all, the picture looks great at almost every angle.

Believe me, people were looking.

Slim, Sexy Sony

Currently, there's only one model available. It's an 11-inch (diagonally measured) desktop design. The XEL-1 is for sale on the Sony Style Web site for $2,500. As with any brand-new technology, prices are high for early adopters. Expect prices to come down as more designs become available.

One more thing: Sony was also showing off its prototype of a 26-inch OLED monitor. No price has been set as of yet, but I gotta tell you, it produces one amazing-looking picture.

You have been warned.

Taser Time

You should also be on the lookout for designer Tasers by Taser International ( TASR). We're talking about personal-protection devices that come in designer styles and colors including red hot, both fashion and metallic pink, electric blue, titanium silver and an amazingly eye-popping leopard pattern.

CES '08: Taser Mixes Songs and Shocks

The new C2 model is a real Taser -- with electronically charged probes that are propelled up to 15 feet away to protect you from an attacker -- at a safe distance. Tasers are legal to carry in most states without special permits (although not in New Jersey or New York).

A C2 will set you back $350 ($380 for the stylish leopard design). Add $73 for a hard-leather case with a 1GB MP3 player built-in (why not?). Once you use your Taser, a replacement cartridge sells for $25 (in packs of two or four).

Taser to the Rescue

One interesting note, Taser recommends that to further protect yourself, once you shoot the device you drop it and run away. The Taser gives you 30 seconds or so to safely get away. If you can prove you have filed a police report (also recommended) the company will replace your Taser with a new one at no cost.

Pinched Pennies

Finally, there are reports that the Consumer Electronics Show organizers are looking ahead with plans to protect attendees from rapidly rising prices. The organization is reportedly upset by rising prices for hotels and services during CES and could be looking for a new location once the current contract with Las Vegas ends in 2011.

Every year, this show gets more and more expensive to attend. For the record, the room I'm staying in goes from $369 to $169 per night once the show ends on Thursday.

Wow.
With 34 years experience as a journalist -- the last 27 with NBC -- Gary Krakow has seen all the best and worst technology that's come along. Gary joined MSNBC.com before it actually went online in July 1996. He produced and anchored the first live Webcast of a presidential election in November 1996. With a background as a gadget freak, audiophile and ham radio operator, Krakow started writing reviews for both Audio and Stereophile Magazines in the 80s. Once at MSNBC.com, Krakow started writing a column to help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Within a short time, that column became a major force in many electronics industries -- audio, video, photography, GPS and cell phones. Readership soared, and manufacturers told him they had actual proof that a positive review in his column sold thousands of their products. Many electronics manufacturers have used quotes from his reviews in their sales literature as well as on their Web sites. There have also been a few awards too, including Emmys in the 70s, 80s and 90s.