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Fair Use or Copyright?

Deregulation Smoke and Mirrors



DigitalLife 2005
By John Latta, WAVE 0544 11/4/05

New York , NY
October 14 - 15, 2005

Let there be no doubt about it – DigitalLife is an end user show. The first day was Industry Day but the place was flooded with end users. This is the 18 – 30 year old crowd, mostly male, that loves games and gadgets. The show floor is only about 1/3 of the Jacob Javits Convention Center, thus relatively small. One has the impression that this is PC Expo in different clothing. Yes, Nokia and Verizon are here, which gives it a mobile and connectivity angle, but the vast majority of the floor is focused on PCs, media devices and game play including a tournament play area.

When it comes to gamers and the connected, this is a slice of New York. Just like a piece of pizza. But it is just that – not a full reflection of New York and the dimensions of society here.


The Keynotes

Don MacDonald, VP and GM Digital Home Group, Intel, gave the same talk as he did at CEATEC. As some measure of the end use acceptance of the message, it appeared that at least 50% of the audience was high school students and the auditorium was still not packed.

Peter Moore, Corporate VP, Worldwide Marketing and Publishing, HED, Microsoft, gave the Xbox 360 rally. The auditorium was packed and they loved it. As the video clips rolled of the game titles each got its own response. Microsoft is seizing the high ground of beating PS3 to market and the players are ready. The support for iPod and PSP also got a good response.


Is ATI Worried?

Hardly. With Intel showing off 300mm system-on-a-chip (SOC) wafers that includes graphics, the WAVE wanted to know – is Intel’s SOC for the home a serious issue? When we asked ATI, they said:

Intel tried SOC before, in 1994, and it resulted in nothing.

Intel’s claims of being low power are just the opposite of reality today.

We (ATI) will be able to do more with Vista, and its reliance on 3D, than Intel with its graphics in SOC.

Bottom line – it remains to be seen if Intel can deliver.


TiVo Lines Them Up and Gives Them Away

It is the classic – give the razor away to make money on the blades. TiVo had a mock funeral to bury the VCR which they claim “never lived up to its promise for easy and convenient television recording.” TiVo was giving away 100’s of TiVo Series2 units for those that brought in a VCR tape. All one had to do was to sign up for the TiVo subscription. The new owners were walking out of the convention center in droves carrying their big TiVo boxes. They were all like walking billboards.

The subscription costs $49.99 for one year after the rebate and no early termination service charges are levied if cancelled in the first 30 days.


iPod Accessories Galore

In another example of “ride on the backs of giants”, iPod accessories were all over the floor. Here is a sample from our first scan.


Carabineer Case for nano
Flip Case for nano
Folio Case for nano
Auto kit for iPod
TuneCast II – FM Transmitter from an iPod to play over  
car radio
Docking adapter for iPod Shuffle
TuneBase for iPod Shuffle
TuneCommand – Wireless remote for iPod
TuneFM – Listen to FM Radio over iPod
TuneStage – Play iPod over home entertainment system
TuneStage – Charge and Sync with PC over USB
TuneTalk – Use iPod as digital voice recorder


Wireless Headphones for iPod
Portable speakers for iPod and nano
Mm22 portable speakers

Altec Lansing

InMotion iM7 plug in speakers

StkaAx is a hand held interactive music and video mixer. Caller “Rocket Fuel for your iPod to create mix and share. $29.95.


Logitech – G15 – Bringing a Display to the Keyboard

It was cute but lame. However, do not dismiss this as the end of displays on keyboards. Logitech ships G15 in 3 weeks. It is just for gamers to monitor their status in playing games. The keyboard has back lit keys for playing in darkened rooms. The key strokes are heavy for game play. The keyboard has many custom keys that the user can program. The display shows CPU status and game status. Logitech has an SDK for others to customize the display. The price for G15 will be $80 and there will be no bundles. The logic behind no bundles is that most gamers already have a “game mouse” and they want a keyboard to fit their needs.

Right on. Sounds like Logitech talked to their game mouse users.


Digitaldeck – Bringing Electronics to Home Media Distribution

The message sounded much like dlna (Digital Living Network Anywhere):

ENTERTAINMENT EVERYWHERE - All of your audio, photo, television and video entertainment is available in any connected room with the touch of a remote. 

DISTRIBUTED - DVR:Pause, play and record on your live TV from any connected room, and watch your recordings on any TV.

ACCESS AND CONTROL - Share the DVD player or even your satellite receiver with any connected room in the house.

VERSATILITY - Works with virtually all your existing media – songs, TV, videos, digital photos and more.

The specifications include:

Complete Connected Home Entertainment System

Dedicated Media Server – 200GB

Network Can Move & Control up to 6 Simultaneous Media Streams

Supports: MP3, MPEG 1&2 and JPEG formats

Whole-home DVR with simultaneous recording from multiple tuners

Local A/V source distribution and control from any zone to any zone

IR remote controlled

Easy to use on-screen menu

Utilizes existing CAT-5 cables via 100MB switched Ethernet

At each end point in the home is an eDeck which:

Encodes and decodes analog A/V signals for transport digitally via Ethernet to other eDecks on the network

Switches and controls up to 4 local A/V sources per zone

Transmits and receives IR commands for complete control of all connected A/V devices on the network

Receives media (recorded and live) from MX1000 Server via Ethernet connection

Video resolution: 480i

MPEG encoding: D1 quality

There is a Digital Deck Remote which:

Controls all Digital Deck features and functionalities (Network Mode)

Controls all A/V components on the network (Manual Mode)

Replaces all device remotes
Controls all local devices
Controls devices anywhere on the network

Easy to use with Digital Deck TV-based screen prompts

It sounded that an early vision of the future of home entertainment which has been heard about at many venues.

Slight problem – a typical 3 room system costs $4,000 of which the media PC is an important component of the cost.

The WAVE asked DigitalDeck a number of questions.

Regarding the apparent dnla modeling…

Yes, DigitalDeck is working on a dlna version.

Why not distribute over wireless?

Wireless just does not cut it. We are on top of all the standards including 802.11n and e and nothing meets video distribution quality requirements.

This system is close to the Intel vision of CE. How will VIIV impact your products?

What we are seeing today is another Intel push into CE. We have seen this before and after all the attention Intel generates it disappears from the market. Intel sells nothing but its chips and they have to convince others that they have the best solution. We will have to see what sticks from Intel.

Is not your distribution strategy, media everywhere in the home, just what Hollywood hates?

Yes, but we only implement Fair Use. We are doing what customers want. Yes, we know Hollywood hates Fair Use. For all these reasons we wonder if Blu-Ray with its distribution limitations, even in the home, will be acceptable to consumers.


AMD Talks about 64bit and Dual Core

As the WAVE walked into the AMD booth, our heart was trumped by the Acer Ferrari. This is a striking machine but lame due to the lack of the Windows 64bit OS. With that, we began a conversation with AMD.

The WAVE has looked for 64bit notebooks with native 64 bit Windows and we have found none. Why not on the Ferrari which is one of the first to have the AMD 64bit processor?

It’s an ecosystem issue. There are insufficient drivers available to run 64 bit OS. It will be some months before this happens.

(Note: Toshiba told the WAVE that it will be Spring 2006 before it ships a native 64bit computer.)

If we bought a Ferrari now, there no assurance that it would run 64bit Windows in the future as it is not clear if all the necessary drivers will be written to support this machine – there is no assurance of backwards hardware compatibility on 64bit hardware systems?

That is correct.

The real gains from 64bit will come to users when the ecosystem supports both the hardware and software. That is, motherboards with large RAM addressability and a robust driver library. The users will have to wait?

 That is correct.

Does not Intel 3.0 represent significant competition for AMD?

This is just Desktrino.


Universal Electronics Shows Kameleon

Kameleon is not your ordinary remote control. It looked like a soft key remote but had much more. This included the following:

There are 4 products ranging in price from $39.99 to $129.99.

The high end unit has RF transmission with a base station. It can also be upgraded over the phone.

The unique attributes include:

Intelligence Illumination which reduces key clutter by showing display functions based on activity.

Mode animation which provides visual cues on the device being controlled.

Activity animation is visual feedback on the mode or action commands desired.

Learning modes.

Mode specific key labels.

Advance functionality based on the environment being used in including home theaters.


Pepper shows Handheld Computer

This is an 8.4” LCD screen with sides that have a tiny keyboard distributed on each side. Cute. Its features include:

Intel Xscale PXA270
800 X 600 Display
Linox OS

We have our doubts.


Creative shows Face Tracking Web Cam

WebCam Live! Motion caught our attention and many others were lining up to see it. This has motorized CCD camera with VGA resolution that does Pan-n-Tilt, a 76-degree wide-angle lens and face tracking. It can also capture high-resolution panoramic images, 200 degrees, with one click. The camera can be used for remote tracking with images deposited onto a web site and supporting software does motion tracking. The camera is also capable of time lapse video capture. WebCam Live! also supports video IM. Interface is USB 2.0. Price is $149.9.


Belkin – We do not know

Earlier we were struck with the line up of iPod accessories. Now we wanted to know – what sticks in the market?

Belkin’s response was – we cannot predict

Cited was the pink iPod carrying case. It was initially thought that the white case would be the best seller. No it was the pink one and they could hardly keep up with demand.

The market requires very fast response due to the fast rise and fall of consumer interest and the competition.


WAVE Comments

One only had to look at the attendees to realize this is not the general population. It was not a walk down the aisles of Safeway or Wal-Mart. Thus, one must be careful in assuming that the products, styles and interests shown at DigitalLife are a representative of the buying population. This is a segmented audience.

Maybe the audience at the DigitalLife keynotes was an indicator of the market response. Intel did not fill the room which had significant support from teenagers filling up empty seats. Microsoft, in its xBox 360 keynote, had no problem filling the auditorium. One had not idea what Intel was selling and the other bought the product being sold.

The WAVE saw the flood of iPod product accessories. Consistent with similar observations at E3 on product accessories, here at DigitalLife, the approach was similar – throw it on the wall and see what sticks. The company with the most iPod accessories, Belkin, stated it best, we have no idea what will be successful in the market.

In spite of all the hoopla about dual core and x64, consumers have yet to gain anything. 64bit needs an ecosystem, from components to systems, to realize its potential. In spite of having a Windows 64 bit OS, this ecosystem is just not yet present. It is likely this will not happen until Q2 2006 and possibly not until Vista.

Dual core also needs an ecosystem from motherboards to applications which support the silicon and dual cores. But it also benefits significantly from individual use patterns of the computer. Carrying out multiple compute bound tasks can better use dual core processors. It remains to be seen if individual users gain much from dual and possibly more cores.


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Page updated 1/24/07
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