CES has gotten as bad as COMDEX was before its fall.
Yet, we wondered while walking the central hall after the
first keynote on opening day where the attendees were. In the past, it
was difficult to move down the aisles yet today there was a relative
calm. Some booths were packed and this included Sony and Microsoft but
overall movement around the venues was easy. In spite of its size, there
is no event like this which brings the PC industry against the mainstream
consumer electronics industry on the stage of competition. In this era
of smaller trade shows, one can only wonder is the time of massive events
that no one can cover, coming to an end. Certainly CEA believes not.
When it comes to creative media content the holy grail
is to provide first run movies in the home on any device as soon as possible
after release. Given the marketing of movies based on time, geography,
medium and venue any significant change in what exists today is seen
as disruptive by the studios. Thus, if first run movies are made available
in the home at the time of theatrical release this would only subtract
from the theatrical revenue. Thus, one calibration point of a CE strategy
is the ability to accomplish early release of first run movies with a
good consumer experience – anywhere any time in the home. This
will be our “hold grail” measure
The theme included the magic of software and decade
of digital lifestyles. This is consistent with the business based
on software, its high gross margins, leveraging what the PC can do
and an OEM model. Much of the presentation centered on the value
Vista will give to the user vis-à-vis the experience. With
the exception of selling xBox 360 to end users, Microsoft’s
approach to the CE market is based on what 3rd parties do with the
Microsoft’s greatest strength is its ownership
of the PC desktop. That said, Microsoft lacks content ownership
and access to high quality video content – especially HD streams.
Microsoft needs to develop a unified CE message and
to shift focus to include providing content beyond service subscriptions
or embedded content in such items as cell phones, PCs and search
The presentation provided an overview for a massive
marketing push to make VIIV a credible platform for CE delivery in
the home. Using Intel’s spending, they are working elements
of the ecosystem to make the VIIV a new player in home media. Of
particular note is the emphasis on the availability of content as
a part of VIIV – Gametap, DirectTV, AOL Video, NBC and Clickstar.
Intel bases its approach on such items as Moore’s
Law, processor technology such as dual core and the use of a Microsoft
OS – Media Center.
Obviously, Intel’s greatest strength is their
ability to spend money to further their cause, including setting
up an ecosystem.
However, from a CE perspective, VIIV is just another
piece of silicon which locks the buyer into Intel’s attempt
to dominate a market. Intel is only successful if it can sell to
3rd parties – Intel is not a CE company – the consumer
buys nothing directly from Intel.
What Intel is missing is a mobility solution and Intel
content partners are only at the fringe of the holy grail.
Sony built a theme on: Digital Cinema, Higher Resolution,
e-entertainment and Playstation. They admitted mistakes with
BMG and music copy protection and stressed the link with content
ownership as a part of the Sony brand. Sony announced a relationship
with CBS Sports and Dell. They also made their case for Blu-ray Disk
although they had a very weak PS 3 demo – only clips.
Sony’s greatest strength is brand name recognition,
as a supplier of both products and content and depth of product
flow. They are strongly identified with CE and in many respects
helped establish the role of CE. As an example, the Blu-ray adopters
are the who’s who in first run entertainment content.
Sony’s weakness is the need to solve internal
issues on what, when and how content is provided to consumers to
use in the way which consumers expect and not to be surprised by
it. Sony is not sure when PS 3 will be viable in the market; PS 3
is poorly integrated with the PC. Sony doesn’t know what role
the PC will have outside of IT functions.
Missing from Sony’s approach is an overall vision
for how they will provide integrated products for the digital home.
Google views each new market is an experiment. Try
it and see if it works. Through their 20% time rule (employees spend
20% of their work time brainstorming and experimenting), Google provides
a base of experimental market development. Google is not a CE company
and made no statement they want to become one. Their focus on Google
Video could change the ways in which video is delivered. There are
many issues to be worked – geography, payments and DRM.
Google’s strength is its advertiser business
model - Google looks like a broadcaster. This provides the means
to generate large volumes of income with high gross margins using
their infrastructure and that of others. Google has found that building
markets based on experiments provides enormous flexibility to seek
out new revenue streams. It also forces the company to be very close
to the users and what they are doing with the experiments.
The customer buys nothing from Google and this is a weakness,
although this will change with Google Video – even though GooglePak
was announced as free. It is impossible to predict where the company
will go – they do not even know themselves.
What seems to be missing is coherence. When it
is all an experiment it is not clear what the direction is.
Howard Stringer, Chairman & CEO, Sony Corp showed the
Reader. This is as close to a book as one can get in electronic form.
The monochrome display as high contrast and is very readable. It is based
on a display from E-Ink. Pricing is expected between $299 and $399 when
introduced in the spring 2006. Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins,
will sell books online via the Sony Connect online store. Battery life
is quoted in terms of page turns – 7,500.
The WAVE could not find any products using UWB. After the
great expectations claimed by many, which have yet to be delivered, we
The focus of the WAVE is to scout new products and the
use of technologies for the home. Here is a highlight of some of the
standouts. We have arranged them alphabetically by vendor or topic.
After the disaster of trying to make 802.11 networks
work for video distribution in the home Amedia Networks is building
the WVA5000 chip set at 5Ghz for HDTV distribution based on proprietary
technology. This includes the use of MIMO. A demonstration was present
in the booth.
Areson Technology – New Mouse Optical Train Design
for Longer Battery Life
Areson Technology showed a suite of mouse products
including laser mouse. They quoted:
2 Days of Use per charge
Wired - $16
For shipments in the US, Agilent chip, outside the
The MRL mouse is based on an improved optical design,
non-laser. They claim increased resolution, longer battery life and
high speed tracking. Simplified optical train design shown.
AskMeNow – Making Relevant Information available
to any phone
Rather than searching web sites AskMeKnow is a service
which will answer virtually any question sent from a phone. This
is a concierge service which responds to basic questions, such
as stock prices, with an automated response. Those which require
more analysis are responded from a cell center in the Philippines
at a cost of 49 cents per inquiry.
Avaquest Software – Personal Software for Content
PodMediaCreator and DVD2POD are two programs that allow
consumers to create content for Apple iPod Video 5G. The PodMediaCreator
is a video creation studio which runs on the PC. It supports photos,
sound, test and home videos. Timeline editing is used to integrate
DVD2POD allows for the creation of iPod video from
personal DVDs and AVI files. Both programs are priced at $29.95.
WebPodStudio enables an individual to create a radio
or television station on the internet. This a PodCast source. The
software has a Studio Director Wizard, a teleprompter and preview
mode. There is also support for integrating RSS feeds. $49.95.
Oriented to the consumer or small business, Web Easy
Professional 6 is a web site authoring tool which does not require
HTML. The software supports FLASH animation, pre-built templates,
animations and frames. It is intended for sites <50 pages and
focuses on ease of use. $49.95.
CEE - Colorwave – LED Backlighting
Colorwave was claiming 2nd generation LED backlighting
for LCD displays. The claims are significant:
Reduction of power – 12% reduction of conventional
104% of the CRT Color Gamut compared to 72% for conventional
backlighting. It is claimed that price parity will be reached with
CCFL backlighting in 18 – 24 months.
Delivery to first customers of the Clearwave technology
will happen in 2006.
Celluon – 2nd Generation Projection Keyboard – Typing
on a flat surface
The Laserkey 850 is Bluetooth wireless and interfaces
USB. The Li-Io battery supports 4 hours of use. It is claimed that
both keyboard entry and mouse functionality can be supported using
the projection technology. Pricing is expected at $200 US retail.
Chipcon – Zigbee Mouse and Keyboard
Hoping to capture share from Bluetooth Chipcon, asupplier
of Zigbee silicon, was showing reference designs for a mouse and
keyboard using its chips. As they said in the booth – just
slap plastic around our chips. The mouse shown was using an Agilent
One of the themes in the booth was built around web
cams. All Creative cameras ship with video conferencing software
from SightSpeed. One of the outstanding capabilities of the LiveMotion
camera is to dynamically construct panoramas. This is done by stitching
5 images from the camera as it rotates about the horizontal plane.
It promotes its products as a Digital Photo Receiver.
They announced Pocket Digital Photo Album, This is a palm sized
device for viewing images in the home. A Set Top Receiver makes
it possible to show pictures on a flat panel television or projection
display. A 15” digital receiver was also announced.
The basic digital receiver which includes the display
costs $129.95. Service costs begin at $6.95 per month.
Digital Spectrum was showing its MemoryVue which
has VGA resolution and support for not only pictures but MPEG video
and MP3 music.
Its product is called MemoryFrame. Connectivity is
accomplished over WLAN. The resolution is 800 X 600. The screen
is 10.4.” It has the ability to scan across designated URLs
looking for images to download.
The smart fabric company had in the booth its Smart
Phone Bluetooth Fabric keyboard. But the smart clothing appeared
to get the most interest.
EPOS – Pen Tracking
It looks like a simple chrome snap clip, with lights,
that is attached to the top of the sheet of paper. Inside is
the tracking technology that works in conjunction with a special
pen. The contribution of EPOS is that the acoustic technology
used is digital. It is claimed that more than one pen can be supported
at one time. Inside the snap clip is flash memory which is available
to the PC when plugged into the USB port. The Digital Pen and Mouse
will be available in US retail in Q2 2006. A real time version was
in the booth but the WAVE did not see it in operation.
Finger Gear – An OS on a Flash Drive
Finger gear is providing a complete OS on a flash drive
along with OpenOffice – called Computer on a Stick. This is
a flash drive which plugs into the USB port on a computer. Included
One version is called the Fingerprint Edition which
allows for on board authentication. Some of the specs for Computer
on a Stick include:
Boots in 8 seconds
512K Flash - $149
1GB Flash - $179
2GB Flash - $219
It is available a Fry’s and the retail distribution
strategy is being developed.
Flat panel speakers
Both Askimo and i-rocks were showing flat panel speakers.
These are about the size of a 5 X 7 card. The sound quality was impressive
for the size of the panel. The Askimo price is $30 to $40 retail.
Global Interface Technologies – UWB Their Own Way
Global Interface Technologies (GIT), out of Japan,
is using its own technology to implement UWB. Shown in the booth
Product development kit
Product Evaluation kit
X-i-Media Express kit – a multi access technology to allow
more that one device to access the UWB signal
GlobLink – Optical Mouse that Tracks on Clear
Using an elegant solution GlobLink places a small transparent
ball in a chamber in the mouse. This ball drops to the surface when
the mouse is in contact with glass or any other surface. The ball
reflects the light from the sensor based on the Agilent chip. Since
the ball rotates on any surface it will track on glass. It worked.
Elegant in simplicity.
HAI – Integrating Media with Internet for Home
Automation and Control
HAI has a broad set of products to support home automation.
It has integrated these products with Windows Media Center
and the web. It is possible to accomplish home automation while watching
content from the media center. Further, the automation allows one
to designate events which will be notified by messaging on a cell
phone or PDA. Access is then provided over the Internet to the system
in the home.
Hopscotch – Giving Control back to Parents
Hopscotch has BoB – Back to Basics – a
device which limits the amount of time a child can spend on television,
PC or game console. Parents can set the time a child my use a certain
device. BoB controls the power to the device. A child enters a PIN
when they want to use a device. The time it may be used is determined
by what the parent set and how much time the child is on the set.
96% of the trial users want to buy the device.
Intranet Sendirian Bernad – Personal Productivity
in a Flash Drive
Using flash memory on a USB drive allows Intranet to
provide a suite of personal productivity tools. These include:
Stick It Notes
LaserShield – Security in a Box
Using a large bus as the booth LaserShield had a security
system which they called “World’s First Professional
Grade Security Instant Security System.” It uses a infrared
motion detection system and wireless. There are two modules which
look like speakers. The system can be controlled from a remote keychain
and any touch tone phone. Rapid Response Monitoring provides the
response service. The system is intended for consumer installation.
Loc8tor – shows personal location technology
Based on tags which are attached to valuable objects
and a hand held device to show where lost items are Loc8tor allows
one to locate lost objects up to 600’ away. The tag is about
the size of a stamp. There are options based on the number of tags
and the price ranges from $100 to $170. Winner of a show award.
One corner of the booth seemed to always be packed.
Showing was the Netgear Skype WiFi phone. This is the same form factor
as a typical bar phone. Netgear also has a router optimized to support
Skype calls. The phone is preloaded with the Skype software. The
phone makes connection over WiFi and does not need a PC. It will
ship in Q1 2006 and pricing has not been announced.
netomat – Transforming the cell phone into social
netomat provides a free hub that will allow for the
connection of PCs with cell phones using IP. The cell phone only
has to have access to the Internet and the best situation is when
there is flat rate Internet access. The hub allows users to set up
on the PC groups which share on a public and private basis RSS feeds,
pictures, presence, publication of blogs, alerts and it is being
expanded to digital content of audio and video. netomat makes available
much of the flexibility, on a personal communications basis, to the
cell phone as an Internet service. The intent was that this service
is totally operator independent but the operators have shown an interest.
Apparently they are seeking areas to use data services that will
be receptive to consumers.
Pen Z – Digital Pen
Pen Z showed its combined pen, mouse and presenter.
It is the shape of a pen and the movements on a surface can be tracked
as a pen our mouse. There are two products with the wireless one
supporting all three functions. The wired pen mouse is $16 FOB Korea
with 1,000 units.
Picturereal – Transforming Home Video
The market need is simple – transforming hours
of personal video into something useful and available to many. Picturereal
offers a service that will digitize home videos in many formats,
allow the user to edit them from the Internet and a final packaged
DVD is delivered. There are a number of packages which begin at $29
per hour of raw video. In addition to DVD output the video can be
made available to mobile devices and the video iPod.
Remote Solutions – Many Concepts for Remote Control
Korea based Remote Solutions had multiple products
in the booth and was promoting:
No Battery Universal Remote Control
Voice Recognition Remote Control
Color Touch Screen LCD Remote Control
Home Theater Universal Remote Control
With the relative success of robotic vacuum cleaners
there were many on the show floor. For example, Microrobot of Korea
was showing the UBOT which scrubs, vacuums and washes. It has three
cleaning modes: full, focus and corner. The unit operates on Li-ion
batteries and will run for 100 minutes. Sample quantities of 100
are available for $650 FOB Korea.
RTX – Home VoIP Phones
RTX offers two phone products: Portalphone and Dualphone.
The Portalphone is geared to be a phone used with or
provided by a ITSP – Internet Telephony Service Provider. There
is a portal device which connects to the PSTN and a broadband Internet
connection. Up to 6 phones can be supported and 3 calls at the same
time. Conventional landlines are also supported. The handset uses
DECT 6.0 which operates at 1.92 - 1.93 GHz. No PC is required.
The Dualphone is a combined Skype phone linked to the
PC and a land line phone. The handset is cordless and the docking
station plugs into the USB port of a computer. Up to 4 handsets can
Targus Shows a Family of Laser Mouse Products
Laser Wireless Desktop - $49.95
Laser Desktop - $29.95
Retractable Laser Notebook - $29.95
There are two designs for laser mouse products which
fit these form factors. All are based on the PixArt chip.
Wawoo Technology – 2nd Generation Pen Mouse
The new pen mouse is wireless optical. The form factor
is more natural to the hand. The mouse will stand alone on a
In spite of 1.6m square feet of exhibit space there were
few new products. Creating new markets is always difficult. It is much
easier to make incremental changes which happen over time. CES was another
example of this. In the end the consumer has many choices from the established
CE companies, the upstarts and the rogues such as Google and Apple.