CES, ET Review
by Leslie Ellis // January 21 2008
For industry techies, the New Year again commenced with a week of sensory overload, followed by a half-week of sensory under-load.
The sensory overload came from the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which served up its usual dosage of the cool, the relevant, and the just-plain-weird. The under-load came from the hushed, laptop-lit room that was the SCTE’s annual Conference on Emerging Technologies, in Los Angeles.
This week’s translation will serve as the Cliff’s Notes to both events.
The Cool (& the Weird) at CES
Shortlist to the cool at this year’s CES: The profusion of skinny, wall-mounted HDTVs, svelting in at less than an inch thick. The organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, magnificently rich in color, and about the size of a small laptop screen. (Three years ago, the biggest was matchbook-sized.)
Also cool: Casio’s combo still/motion camera, the EXF-1. Sandisk’s combo video memory stick / remote control, branded “Sansa” — sort of a video iPod without the screen.
As for just-plain-weird, nothing came close to the his/her toilet seat nightlight of the 2003 CES — green when the seat is in sitting position, red when it’s not. But the robotic beer cooler turned a few thirsty heads, as did the Swarovski crystal pendant, which doubles as a 1 Gigabyte USB memory stick. (Just a gig, though, guys?)
Emerging Tech Highlights
Jason Gaedtke, newly named chief scientist at CableLabs, topped my list of tell-me-more tech presenters at last week’s “E.T.” (Emerging Tech) conference. His paper: “Semantic Web: Cable Finds New Meaning.”
Gaedtke is a reliable guide through the brain-bending landscape of web video technologies, also known as “Web 3.0” (“Although that’s more of a marketing term,” Gaedtke noted.)
On his short list of things to start learning: AJAX, a programming technique for Web pages that allows an element on the page to be refreshed interactively, without having to re-load the entire screen. ATOM, a syndication technique for user-generated video. Several others. (Get the Proceedings on DVD, but only if you’re into immersion learning.)
Other topics of interest at this year’s E.T.: A look at emerging set-top trends, delivered by S-A/Cisco’s VP/client architecture Ken Morse. Among them: Silicon integration, for single-chips that pack in seven or more individual processors; DVRs with 250 Gigabytes of storage by next year; much better graphics.
E.T. wouldn’t be E.T. without at least one example of impressively nerdy tech-speak. This year’s candidate: Harmonic’s “hecto-QAM,” which skipped many of us off to Wikipedia for a refresher on what the heck a “hecto” is. (Answer: Greek for 100.)
Similarly, CES wouldn’t be CES without a bit of unintended geek humor — like when the demo guy at Xstream Media, a satellite-based HDTV download service starting later this year, was asked if the service is like Netflix, without the U.S. mail element.
His reply: “That’s exactly kind of what we are.”
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.
Tony Werner: Comcast & DOCSIS 3.0, Part 1
If you build it, they will come. Broadband speeds, that is. In early 2008, at Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters, Comcast CTO Tony Werner explains why DOCSIS 3.0 is an important architectural building block — not only to increase broadband speeds, but to load-balance the plant. Also discussed: Broadband usage trends amongst consumers. Surprise: A whole lot more media streaming… Video courtesy Multichannel News.