This is Part 2 of my round-up of last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which took place in Las Vegas. If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE. Again, I have to thank Engadget and Boy Genius Report for their live blogging and coverage of CES which allowed me to follow along. Now let’s take a look at some minor but interesting announcements.
TV Where You Want It, When You Want It
Verizon called it “TV Everywhere”, but they were not the only ones discussing it. Samsung had the CEO of Comcast and the CEO of Time Warner (two people who rarely take the stage together) at their press conference to discuss this idea. The basic idea is: if you pay for content, you should be able to access the content on demand from any device at no extra cost. Samsung went a little more in depth than Verizon did, in my opinion. Samsung, ideally, wants to see able to pause on one device and resume on a different devices. Samsung also showed off the X-Finity TV app for their Galaxy Tab which turns the tablet into a guide, video player and remote. You can find content (On Demand) and then watch it on the TV or on your tablet (eventually adding live television). Time Warner’s app will allow you to access live TV directly on your tablet and will eventually give access to your entire channel lineup on your tablet. This is huge and I would love to see this happen, especially the “no extra cost” part.
Big Red Love
Verizon spent a lot of time talking about their shiny new LTE network and its expansion. First what is LTE? LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. There’s an extremely complex answer, but simply it is the next generation mobile telecommunication network for Verizon, AT&T and several other carriers. It is the next step after 3G. Verizon said they are expecting speedbumps along the way while they roll out LTE, which is obviously a little preemptive damage control. Their roll out is going well and is on or a little further than schedule with LTE coverage in 38 major markets. They promise to have America blanketed in LTE in 36 months and to have 2/3 of the population in range by 2012. Now this is a bit of PR talk. I mean, really what is blanketed? Also, to the best of my knowledge, 2/3 of the population can be found focused in specific areas. You can reach that number without touching a good portion of the wide open land in the middle of the country. However from what I understand, Verizon tends to be good with coverage. All I know is LTE is in Philadelphia, so I’m covered. We’ll just have to see how this roll out goes.
Verizon also discussed their plans to “deeply integrate” Skype into all their future 4G phones. Their intent is to keep Skype always running so you can have solid video calls without needing to make extensive plans before hand. I think this could be cool, but I also see it as an issue with LTE data caps. I honestly don’t know how much data a Skype video call uses, but it could be an issue. However, Verizon is still a little tight lipped about phone LTE plans and pricing. So it’s something to keep an eye on. The video calling future I dreamed of as a kid is well on its way.
The final Verizon note I have is their joint effort with Panasonic at CES. They joined together to show off Full HD 3D Video (that’s 1080p for each eyes) streamed over Verizon’s FiOS Network. They streamed it to a Panasonic Blu-ray 3D player at bit rates up to 18Mbps, which is about double the rate currently used by most cable providers. It was apparently really impressive, but it probably won’t amount to much for consumers. To me it seems to be more of a “look we love 3D” and “look what we can do” kind of posturing. It does show their interest and intent to promote 3D, which is good but I don’t expect Full HD 3D video being streamed to my home any time soon.
Two Last Items
Samsung talked up the idea of “the cloud”. First, what is the cloud? Simply the cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. In this instance it is specifically relating to cloud computing and cloud storage. It is a set of services and technologies that enable users to access computing services over the Internet in real-time, which allows the user instant access to data and applications from any device with Internet access. It frees you from being restricted to one computer. Google Documents can be used as example. You don’t just have access to the file; you also have the ability to create, edit, view and link to documents from any Internet connected device without having to worry about having the correct piece of software on your device. The cloud has been a big thing recently and Samsung wants to make sure everyone knows they’re on board too. They said they are dedicated to making their devices the best gateway to storing, sharing, and playing content from the cloud. Personally, I love this whole cloud idea and look forward to the future of it. I have my concerns about it as well, but I like the idea of being able to access my files wherever I am and on whatever device I want.
Finally, we have more Skype news. Skype had been running a free group video calling beta. You could group video call up to 10 people. However, the most recently Windows version has ended the beta and, unfortunately, ended the no cost. You can get a day pass to make group video calls for $4.99 for all your impromptu group video needs. You can also get a monthly subscription for $8.99 w/ a 33% discount available if you sign up for 3 or 12 months over the next 30 days. Regular two-way video calling is still free.
Once Again We End Our Broadcast Period
As I said, these are minor announcements but interesting. Verizon’s LTE rollout, integrated Skype for video calls on 4G phones, the continued expansion of the cloud and streaming full HD 3D video. It’s very interesting and cool even if it is a lot of talk and posturing. Technology is moving so fast that it’s hard to keep up with. It seems to work in cycles like this. Everything will be moving extremely fast for a while, then it will plateau for a bit, then some new technology will be discovered/invented/whatever and we’ll be moving extremely fast again. It’s the way it seems to work. I know it’s extremely cliché but the future is now and it’s exciting!
One part left in my CES 2011 Round-Up where I’ll look at some of the tablets announced. But before I get to that, I just finished following Engadget’s Live Blog of Verizon’s Big Announcement. It’s officially official this time: a Verizon iPhone 4 exists.
The Engadget and Boy Genius Report links I’ve posted above will take you to all of their CES 2011 coverage and the CES website has a link to videos of all the Keynotes from this year. There’s a ton of stuff I haven’t and won’t be mentioning like 3D television, 3D cameras & video cameras, portable Blu-ray players, 3D glasses, glasses free 3D, 3D laptops (lots and lots of 3D), appliances and a million and a half other things, so go wade through the vast amounts of information on your own to find what interests you and stay tuned for my next post: Part 3