January 3, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Tech tunes into TV at CES

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It's not all good news on the hardware side, either. Living-room PCs like Viiv have failed in the past, so computer manufacturers are putting only limited energy into Intel's concept this time around, sources said. Consumer electronics makers are expected to counter PC-based entertainment delivery with smarter set-top boxes, and TVs that can serve as digital hubs.

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Even networking standards for home entertainment are in play. Airgo Networks and Wi-Fi companies say 802.11n, a wireless technology specification, will become the transmission protocol of choice for moving around movies in the home.

Companies behind power-line networking disagree, and have customer adoption to prove it. Earlier this year, Spain's Telefonica kicked off a video-on-demand service and is getting 2,000 new subscribers a day. Many of the customers are opting for power-line networking, which uses broadband delivered via a house's internal electrical wiring, said Jorge Blasco, CEO of powerline modem provider Design of Systems on Silicon.

"There is no competing technology that is capable of passing video. We've sold a half-million chips," Blasco said. "The carriers are going to be the big drivers of video-on-demand in 2006."

Several more companies--Verizon Communications, France Telecom, BellSouth--are currently testing power-line modems, he added. Blasco's company plans to show off prototypes of PCs and set-top boxes rigged with power-line modems at the CES event.

Other things to watch out for at the show, which runs Thursday through Sunday:

• The dominance of Asia. Two years ago, Gateway, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other PC sellers laid grand plans to roll out TVs and MP3 players and erode the traditional consumer electronics dominance of companies like Samsung, Sony and LG.

Fast forward to now: Samsung, LG and the other Asian conglomerates still occupy the most floor space at CES and hold strong positions in most markets. American computer makers still sell consumer electronics, but their entry into the market didn't ignite a revolution in brands or customer loyalty.

"They've been moving slow, waiting for convergence," NPD Techworld's Baker said. "But look at iPod and TiVo. Those are very much American products."

• The TV with the built-in DVR. In 2006, a number of manufacturers plan to release television sets that include built-in digital video recorders with 100GB-plus hard drives. Plasma TV remains alive, but there will be far more models with LCD screens.

Toshiba and Canon are expected to show off the first surface-conduction electron emitter display, or SED, televisions. These TVs, like prototypes from Samsung and Applied Nanotech, use nanotubes and other particles to convey electrons to the screen. That results in a set that is similar in size and shape to an LCD model, but has a better picture.

• Blu-ray versus HD DVD. The organizations behind the rival next-generation DVD technologies will hold press conferences to detail the release of players and movies for their respective formats in 2006. Many studios and technology companies back Blu-ray, but HD DVD fans say their format will be easier to adopt. Some companies, such as HP, will support both.

• MP3 players. There will be a lot of them. Most will use flash memory, and more of them will play video in addition to audio files.

• A lot of discussion about Apple. The company will show off products the following week at Macworld in San Francisco, but that won't prevent people from talking about it. The Yonah chips from Intel are set to be unveiled Jan. 6, and Apple is expected to incorporate the processor in its first Intel-based Macs.

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Franchising Fairness Needed
Interesting story ... but it's not going to matter until regulators level the playing field ...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/01/enough_with_the.html" target="_newWindow">http://channelchanger.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/01/enough_with_the.html</a>
Posted by Hynes (8 comments )
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They're dime a dozen and up themselves, why would anyone want a level playing field for any of them?
Xbox rules their pathetic world! :) :) :)
Posted by FisherKingKQJ (59 comments )
Link Flag
Same old cycle.
Interactive TV and the TV as a PC. Two ideas that have never worked, and never will. Yet somebody will hold a press conference, declare the future is now, and that all of this is going to happen in this year. And it never will.

People want at least one device other than their toaster to be dumber than they are. Thus the TV will always be a TV, even if we can stream a movie from another box, onto it. It won't matter if we are using a Slingbox, or streaming from a PC, or another multi-media box. No matter how they cut things, people will continue to want the PC on a desk, the TV in the entertainment center, and the phone on a wall next to the answering machine. Those aren't things that are true in our households because somebody forgot to offer a product or service. It is the fact that over 90 years, certain things have simply evolved into hard and firm reality.

Plasma screens are cute, but grossly overpriced. LCDs make for really lousy TV as anybody with a laptop five years ago can tell you. Plasmas wear out, LCDs will be supplanted by a half dozen better technologies. The only reason companies are pimping LCDs are because they over-invested in plants to make them. It wasn't a wise bet for the long-run. The only good thing was to drive the cost of LCD monitors down, transition people into using flat-screen monitors, and set the stage for the next big thing.

MP3 players will eventually over-run the Apple iPod, just as most of their products have been over time. Not knocking the iPod, but its a fad, not a foundation. The market will commoditise such devices, kill the profit margins, and ultimately command the direction in which such devices move. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know these things would play video at some point.

This isn't going to be the year of new products taking the lime light. It is going to be the year these recent products start actually getting used. Whomever spots the trends to emerge out of that will introduce the next big thing for 2007.

Posted by NWLB (326 comments )
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go CES!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/cassette_deck_nakamichi_dragon.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/cassette_deck_nakamichi_dragon.htm</a>
Posted by 208774626618253979477959487856 (176 comments )
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