Greetings from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which just ended its first day of exhibits (yesterday was press conference day.) I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, but SED is indeed finally on display, albeit in a limited-seating theater buried in the Toshiba booth at CES. (I hope publicizing this fact doesn't push me even further back in line!) For me the first day is always a kind of orientation day, to get my bearings and prioritize -- this convention is huge, and it's impossible to see it all. Here are some randomly ordered highlights and tidbits so far:
Portable video players are everywhere. There is a sense that they are about to really take off -- for kids who grow up with GameBoy, some say, the evolution to video is really a small step. The most impressive device I saw, because of its ultra fast download speed, is an accessory to DirecTV set top boxes with built-in DVR and an upcoming DirecTV 2 Go service. Using a fast USB 2.0 transfer, the Humax PMP simply copies files from the STB's hard drive, in MPEG-2 format, with no transcoding. That's quite different from Tivo-To-Go and similar methods of moving video to the iPod or Sony PSP, which require time consuming transcoding that can take hours to copy a few programs. Powered by an AMD Au1200 Alchemy Processor, copying takes a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on file size. And the on-screen navigation menus mimic DirecTV, making the user experience seamless and simple. For DirecTV customers, this promises a big advantage over cable TV.
Panasonic continued its mass-market adoption of 3-CCD image sensor technology by introducing a 3-CCD DVD camcorder for $899. Also, a 1080p 65W-inch plasma screen TV.
Sony has returned to the show floor, after many years creating its own separate island across the hallway from the main convention. Sony introduced their first hard disk drive camcorder. Also, an updated version of their content server with high definition Blu Ray DVD built-in.
At the annual Bill Gates Show (aka CES Keynote Speech) we saw a preview of Vista, and its new version of Media Center. Only surprise was a new file access system reminiscent of a Rolodex. Dell is introducing a Cable Card reader, which will allow Media Center PCs to tune cable TV directly, with no need for a set top box or IR blaster.
Samsung introduced LED-illuminated DLP rear projection TVs, LED-illuminated LCD TVs, and a 7-megapixel camera phone. Also, the world's first twin-try DVD recorder/disc copier.
There's a lot more going on here, of course, and hopefully I'll finally see SED -- touted as the ultimate flat screen technology because it's both better and cheaper than plasma and LCDs -- tomorrow.