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CES: High-Def and Media Servers to Take Center Stage

3 Jan, 2005 By: Kurt Indvik

High-definition discs, media servers and delivery of entertainment into the home and via portable players are all front and center at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The event runs Jan. 6–9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding venues.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) issued a report identifying five technologies to watch at this year's CES, which is expected to draw more than 130,000 attendees visiting 2,400 exhibitors. They are: media servers, portable entertainment, hybrid white goods (smart kitchen appliances), innovative gaming technologies and telematics, which is technology that enables the electronics in vehicles to connect wirelessly to external sources.

“Based on this report, it is clear that content is beginning to drive the creation of new devices, and that the continued adoption of broadband will allow product innovation to soar,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA.

Meanwhile, backers of two competing next-generation, high-definition video disc formats, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, will be holding press conferences to announce updated progress as both camps move headlong toward what may be a dual-format launch in late 2005.

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group will be holding its annual CES event Jan. 6, at which time the group will present the latest industry statistics from 2004 as well as present awards to both suppliers and retailers.

Sure to be a major attraction during the 2005 CES will be media server technology, which is gaining momentum with both the CE and PC industries developing hardware and software technology that helps consumers store and manage their digital entertainment and self-made content.

According to the CEA report, in the next three years 52 percent of U.S. households will have home networks. The report projects growth in broadband delivery and that the development of digital rights management/copyright protection will play a big role in boosting demand for media servers, whether those are PCs or some sort of set-top box.

As with the 2004 CES, portability remains a hot topic. But this year, advances in portable gaming platforms — the hot market for portable DVD players — and other portable media players will be even bigger topics. The report notes that portable entertainment devices are on a convergence path with cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

While wireless and online game technologies are expected to take off in the next couple of years, the normally cyclical console-gaming industry will also get a bounce when next-generation consoles appear.

Home media and Hollywood are the focus of a variety of educational tracks during the show. A track presented by Digital Hollywood will feature sessions on mobile entertainment, streaming entertainment content into the home, PVRs, set-top boxes and media PCs, and subscription and other download models for film, music and games, among other topics. There will also be a track on video games presented by GamePower, including one session on the relationship between Hollywood and the game industry.

Microsoft chief Bill Gates will make another appearance with a kickoff keynote address Jan. 5. Other keynoters throughout the show include Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel; Ed Zander, chairman and CEO of Motorola; Carly Fiorina, chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard; and Rich Templeton, president and CEO of Texas Instruments.

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