Content issues dominate Las Vegas Electronics Show

Published: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 12:01 a.m.
Content, content, content.
It wasn't that new or tweaked technology was nowhere to be found at last week's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But it took a backseat to the well-subscribed idea that content - new movies on new types of video discs, high-definition television content streamed wirelessly from the Internet to your living room set and new ways to access your computer in Moscow when you're in Milan - is prince, if not king.
On the hardware side, advanced display methods took center stage, and screen sizes continue to grow. Sony showed a prototype 82-inch LCD monitor, but Sharp trumped all comers with its stunning 108-inch screen.
Most impressive video technology-to-come: OLED, for organic light-emitting diode.
Sony's concept OLED monitors: sensational.
Here are some other bits of buzz and news gleaned from five days at CES.
Feb. 17, 2009: That's the date broadcasters are mandated by the government to end all analog television service in the United States.
It was a hot topic at the show.
Conversion to a digital TV system has been in the works for years, and the deadline has been pushed back before, so don't be surprised if it's pushed back again.
The industry has been gearing up to deal with expected consumer confusion on that day in 2009 when viewers find their current TVs won't show any of the broadcast images.
A major issue to be resolved is the final standard for the TV box that will convert digital signals back to analog, allowing viewers a semi-seamless transition to the digital age.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Commerce Department is working on the standard now.
One thing seems certain: The boxes will have to be purchased by consumers, at a still-undetermined cost.
The rivalry between the two new competing high-definition video formats was ratcheted up a notch.
Both sides introduced new hardware to play the discs, and, more importantly, announced new content to propel player sales.
The HD DVD Promotions Group, which lobbies in behalf of that format, announced that four new manufacturers would bring out equipment.
The group projected sales of 1.8 million players in 2007, and said that Hollywood studios would release more than 300 new titles on HD DVD this year.
Those in the Blu-ray camp boasted claims that more than 1 million Blu-ray players are already in U.S. homes - in the form of Sony's PlayStation3 machines.
Studio reps at a Blu-ray group news conference announced upcoming movies to be released on that format.
Warner Home Video will bring out Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" just before Oscar time, as well as "The Matrix" trilogy and several "Harry Potter" titles.
Sony will release "Casino Royale" in March, and "Open Season" and "Rocky Balboa" later on.
Disney's Buena Vista division will release both "Pirates of the Caribbean" titles in May, and "Cars" this summer.
It takes a lot of wattage to make a big noise at CES, and Philips has found a way to turn up the volume.
The European-based company blew away more than a few guests at its presser by showing off a large-scale - and we mean large - version of its upcoming AmBX video game accessory.
The thing includes fans (the kind that blow air), a "wall washer" lighting system that targets colored lights on a game room's walls and ceilings, a couple of pumped-up loudspeakers and a boomy subwoofer.
The effect of the demo was not unlike landing in the middle of war zone during a particularly intense firefight.
Philips says AmBX will be out soon, in a slightly shrunken version, with special games encoded to provide the appropriate sound-and-sight effects.
They say it's all part of Philips' "immersive experience." Right.

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