Commentary

Big Things to Come In Video -- The Best Of CES 2010

If you read Video Insider, then you probably already know that CES -- the Consumer Electronics Show -- happened in Las Vegas last week. 

CES is the big time: a global forum for major technology companies to roll out their new offerings in an effort to dazzle both consumers and the assembled press.

I'm a fan of technology in general, and of CES in particular.  With so many big players and so much energy on the floor, it's hard not to get swept up in all the excitement.

While I was at CES this year, three trends specifically stood out for me concerning the world of digital video.

"TV Everywhere" was Everywhere

Announcements around "TV Everywhere" seemed to emerge from every major technology company at CES, promising speedy delivery of premium content.

Samsung announced Samsung Moment, a Sprint cell phone with a Mobile DTV (Digital Television) chip.  Dell, LG and Vizio all announced similar products. 

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Dish Network rolled out "TV Everywhere" plans using Slingbox's technology to allow people to watch content on cell phones, netbooks, laptops, and game consoles, in a bid to compete with Time Warner's and Comcast's previously announced TV Everywhere strategies.

Microsoft unveiled new details about the Zune marketplace, and dropped this bit of news: if users purchase content through Xbox Live, they will have the digital rights to the content on all affiliated systems - PC, Xbox and Zune alike.

As I often say, this type of HD-quality, seamless delivery of premium content isn't science fiction.  It's happening right now, in huge leaps and baby steps. 

Greater Home Connectivity

The concept of "living room computing" has been a buzz word at CES for the last few years -- but this year reality caught up to the hype, and the results are pretty awesome.  It seemed like everywhere I turned at CES I saw companies pushing greater home connectivity.

The content delivery options and on-demand functionality on display at CES this year, combined with all the tablet computers and Internet-enabled TVs, amount to a perfect storm. 

I'm calling it: 2010 is the year of the wired living room.

Consumers can expect better set-top boxes, with more options for viewing the content they want, when they want it, and in full HD. 

Example: starting this year, users are going to be able to access Netflix's digital content and Pandora through wired televisions and Blu-ray players.

3D TV

Everyone -- and I do mean everyone (even Taylor Swift) -- was pushing 3D this year.

Now consumers will be getting the "Avatar" experience from their couches - and 3D will take gaming, movies and sports to an entire new level of entertainment.

Sony, Toshiba and Samsung were among those announcing 3D TVs.  Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba all touted new 3D Blu-ray players.  Even Monster Cables announced new HDMI cables to support 3D functionality.

These flashy TVs will need 3D content, of course.  ESPN beat its competitors to press with a pre-CES announcement of a planned 3D sports network.  Discovery Communications, Sony and IMAX dropped a press release almost immediately thereafter about a 3D channel that will show premium nature and science content.

It's Still about Data

One thing not on display at CES is the hard technological work happening behind the scenes to make these grand visions real. 

In a "TV Everywhere" scenario, cable providers need much smarter back-end systems to understand where and how they are delivering what content to users.

And before you can watch "Lost" on your cell phone, studios and providers will need processes to handle content rights managements and figure out how to deliver high-quality content in all sizes (be it for the 65" or 4" screen).  Those agreements are literally being signed as we speak, and the studios and providers that make smart, aggressive deals will win the race.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to fire up "Beowulf" on my new 3D flat-screen.

2 comments about "Big Things to Come In Video -- The Best Of CES 2010".
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  1. Sam Levin from Sam Levin Consulting, January 13, 2010 at 3:14 p.m.

    3D TV is NOT the best of CES folks.. get real. The industry still has not marketed Blu-Ray (successfully) to people with HD screens.. and until we get terms like '1080' replaced with normal speak, consumers will be left aimlessly wandering the aisles..

    Take a page how Apple took FireWire, USB and 802.11 and made it into a household name that any normal nascent person understands.. hence, can purchase easily.

    Presently, the industry pushes technology that is out of reach with 90% of what normal people can comprehend and afford.

    Hey, I LUV it all. Don't get me wrong.. yet I/we are not the audience.

    My mantra is this; disseminate technology to the masses at affordable prices.

    Peace. Out,
    Sam

  2. Chris Pizzurro from Canoe, January 13, 2010 at 3:47 p.m.

    Thanks for the update Ben. I could not make it out this year and helpful to have "a set of eye". Agreed, for advertsing, it's ALL about the data.

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