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Parting Thoughts: General Observations

As we leave Las Vegas and tie a bow around CES 2010, here are some general observations from the ETC reporting team:

CES_hallwayThe show had a super-dynamic feel. Last year, people were depressed and the event felt a bit empty.  This year – despite speculation that the confab would suffer from lack of big announcements and the effects of a limping economy – the high level of energy surprised us.  The show was slammed and there was a LOT of optimism in the air… and it was infectious.

As predicted, 3D was everywhere. It was perhaps even a bit more everywhere than people imagined.  Last year’s backroom demos were this year’s front-of-booth highlights.  DirecTV live 3D feeds and actual 3D Blu-ray discs playing on actual Full-HD 3D displays were in almost every major CE booth.  There was also a lot of live 2D-3D conversion around – maybe disruptive or perhaps just a nice parlor trick for 3DTV buyers to show their friends.

Over-the-top Internet-connected devices were everywhere, too. Last year, we saw ethernet jacks in a few TVs from the CE companies and widgets, etc. on some Blu-ray players.  This year, it’s gone mainstream.  The majority of the sets from the major manufacturers have ethernet, EVERYTHING is connected, Skype is now available in HD for HDTVs and PCs, and even Vizio has a strong play with its huge line-up of affordable, easy-to-use, wireless networked TVs.

All of that said, there was no “Pet Rock” at the show – the single must-have gadget. The Best in Show award from CNET’s Best of CES awards went to Panasonic for its VT25 series of 3D-capable HDTVs…and NetShelter’s Last Gadget Standing top winner was the Boxee Box from D-Link that helps you share Internet content with your HDTV.  But as Google and Apple had hoped for, everyone was talking about the Google Nexus One smartphone and the rumored-to-be-coming-later-this-month Apple Tablet, both of which were not at the show.

entourage-edge-dualbook-concept-revealed-0Tablet PCs, netbooks and e-readers with a wide variety of screen sizes and functionality took on a surprise presence at the show. We were particularly impressed with the enTourage eDGe, the first dualbook e-reader.  This cool device flips open to two screens: the first is an LCD screen with the functionality of a tablet notebook and the second is an e-paper screen for reading, highlighting and annotating documents.  We’ve just scratched the surface of possibilities with these affordable and increasingly popular devices (just think about the Kindle…).

Before we sign off, we’ve included a part 2 to our parting thoughts, a brief list of things to watch for in 2010.  Be sure to check it out.

And it seems only fitting that we include one final video.  Carolyn Giardina, one of our roving show floor reporters, wraps up her video coverage of CES by providing a brief overview of this year’s trends – from 3D everywhere to over-the-top tablet PCs to emerging technologies such as 4G networks.

[wpvideo wtsS6NqB]

Thanks for reading the blog for this year’s CES 2010.  A special thank-you to ETC’s sponsors who make our work possible.  We’re Leaving Las Vegas…

KC Blake, Sarah Blake, Carlos Crooks, George Gerba, Carolyn Giardina, Bryan Gonzalez, Frank Irving, Leander Kung, Phil Lelyveld, Edie Meadows, Paula Parisi, Mark Schroeder, Rob Scott, William Sheng, David Wertheimer, Joyce Yi

And our sponsor-contributors/tipsters:

Wendy Aylsworth, Bryan Ellenburg, Bob Kisor, Bob Lambert, Theron Trowbridge

Read the team’s thoughts on trends to watch in 2010

Parting Thoughts: Trends to Watch for in 2010

As we hightail it out of Vegas with the desert dust settling behind us, the ETC reporting team would like to recommend a few things worth keeping your eyes open for in the upcoming year, based on our observations of CES 2010:

glasses_2A revitalized industry-wide commitment to 3D. Fresh on the heels of theatrical successes (congratulations, Jim Cameron…) and the gradual adoption of other 3D screenings involving sports, stage performances, live music, etc. – the CE industry and content providers are tackling 3D for the home with renewed vigor:

– Watch for a slew of new 3D devices promised by nearly every major CE manufacturer, including (but certainly not limited to) 3D HDTVs, 3D Blu-ray players, and 3D-capable gaming systems.

– We’re looking forward to the first wave of 3D Blu-ray titles, especially “Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” Sony Pictures Animation’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

– Attendees at this year’s show were excited to hear announcements of planned 3D broadcasts and new 3D cable channels.  Watch for ESPN3D to begin airing in June… and watch for the first 24/7 exclusively 3D channel to debut from Discovery, Sony and IMAX.  Also, look for DirecTV live 3D like we saw on the show floor at Panasonic, LG and Samsung.

– In addition to the ongoing efforts we’ll be coordinating at ETC, we were thrilled to hear about new 3D testing facility commitments from the likes of CableLabs in Colorado and Testronic Labs in Burbank.  Additionally, CBS is expanding its Television City consumer research facility located at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  CBS and Nielsen are partnering to add 3,000 square feet onto the existing facility, and Sony has promised to provide the initial 3D equipment.  We should also mention that the MPEG Industry Forum has created a new 3DTV Working Group, that held its first meeting during CES.

entourage-edge-dualbook-concept-revealed-7Touch screens, netbooks and tablet PCs were rampant at this year’s show, with speculation and promise of a slew of new products in development. Not surprising, it seems that portability, cost, functionality and connectivity are at the forefront.  And with an increasing demographic growing reliant on the touch screens so popular with iPhones and similar devices, we should expect to see an impact on nearly all CE products.

Will time prove that Google and Apple were wise not to debut the Nexus One and Apple Tablet (whatever it will be called) at CES? Google’s new Android smartphone marks the company’s first foray into hardware and could wind up protecting the company’s dominance in online advertising.  But will its self-proclaimed “superphone” with speech recognition take on Apple’s iPhone over time and help expand Google’s reach from the PC to the mobile world?  And what impact will the Apple Tablet have, if any, on the array of tablet PCs showcased at CES?  We’ll be watching this race carefully this year.

Over-the-top connected services will take on a new dynamic. When this theme emerged at last year’s show it was little more than a conversation, but by CES 2010 things had really taken flight with Net-connected TVs and widgets from the likes of Vizio and LG, among others.  By next year’s CES, we expect it will be difficult to find a TV or device that doesn’t connect to the Internet via ethernet or wireless.  And the number and types of over-the-top products and services that begin to crop up in 2010 should be really interesting to watch.

Gestural interfaces still had a presence at this year’s show and may integrate with a new direction in CE devices. Last year, we saw the first gestural interfaces from pioneering companies such as PrimeSense.  During 2009, we saw Microsoft announce and demo to universal acclaim “Project Natal”, based on PrimeSense’s chipset.  And if the Wii has revolutionized and democratized games by providing two points of information (from the IR controllers), gestural interfaces potentially bring millions of points of information into the equation without asking people to have a remote control.  Watch this trend… It’s going to be big.

Keep thinking about LTE and 4G. Even though they didn’t have an enormous presence at the show, these are technologies that should start to play out in the next 12 months.  For example, ZyXEL showed its fixed LTE router for the home.  The router will enable operators to offer high-speed Internet service to the home via cellular networks with data rates up to 50Mbps throughput.  There were several other LTE/4G products on the floor including products from LG and Samsung.  In addition, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T have all announced network upgrades to support these systems.  This is a big trend to watch for 2010 and you can bet that next year at the show LTE/4G will be a hot topic.

Better Organization, Search and Discovery. The myriad over-the-top services cropping up at the show this year creates a double-edged sword for consumers.  So many ways to get content (now on your TV), so few ways to easily find it.  The explosion of over-the-top and new access-enabling options (e.g. DECE and KeyChest) will highlight a void and an opportunity for companies to make super-simple search, discovery, and access to all your digital content.  This should begin to be a major theme in 2010.

And finally, keep a close watch on multifunction AV data cabling. Probably not the sexiest theme at the show, but one that will be paramount to a new generation of connected devices.  Intel garnered a lot of attention when it touted its Light Peak high-speed optical cable technology that can achieve data rates of 10GB per second.  And if you thought HDMI made connections simpler, wait until you see HDBaseT… The demo we saw from an Israeli company called Valens was of a single Cat-5 ethernet cable carrying power, uncompressed 1080p video, ethernet, and control data.  Very impressive.

CES_booth

We’re sure there will be a few surprises in store for us in 2010, but these are the technologies and trends this year’s show has us excited about as we start the new year.

Thanks for reading the blog for this year’s CES 2010.  A special thank-you to ETC’s sponsors who make our work possible.  We’re Leaving Las Vegas…

KC Blake, Sarah Blake, Carlos Crooks, George Gerba, Carolyn Giardina, Bryan Gonzalez, Frank Irving, Leander Kung, Phil Lelyveld, Edie Meadows, Paula Parisi, Mark Schroeder, Rob Scott, William Sheng, David Wertheimer, Joyce Yi

And our sponsor-contributors/tipsters:

Wendy Aylsworth, Bryan Ellenburg, Bob Kisor, Bob Lambert, Theron Trowbridge

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