Log in

Recordable Formats Take Center Stage at CES

13 Jan, 2003 By: David Ward

Recordable DVD and other digital recording devices of all shapes and sizes dominated the early portion of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, as the industry continues to find newer and cheaper ways to deliver high-quality video to consumers wherever and however they want it.

The industry managed to overcome a lackluster economy to post a 3.7 percent rise in total factory sales in 2002 to $96.2 billion, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president Gary Shapiro noted during his State of the Industry speech. He went on to predict that sales should reach $99 billion this year and that the consumer electronics industry would have its first $100 billion year in 2004.

While DVD has been the driving force for much of the consumer electronics industry in recent years, the CEA also cited strong growth in 2002 of next-generation video game machines from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft; and the slow but encouraging ramp-up of HDTV.

Shapiro touted the success of HDTV, noting 2.6 million units were sold in 2002, well above projections of 2.1 million.

“My unshakable belief in the inevitability of HDTV is being vindicated and the recent agreement on cable compatibility only strengthens the fact that this category is unstoppable,” he said.

All told, about 100,000 people attended the three-day event in Las Vegas last week, but much of the action took place during preshow press briefings. Recordable DVD was at the forefront, although the battle among rival formats appears far from over.

Sony showcased new digital DVD camcorders priced at less than $1,000 that use three-inch DVD RW/R discs. The move marks a shift for the consumer electronics giant, which until now supported the DVD+RW format it had codeveloped with Philips.

Zenith Electronics introduced a DVD player with a 40 GB hard drive ($499) and also showed a $499 DVD-RW recorder, continuing the downward price trend that should bring recordable DVD well into mass-market range in the next 12 to 24 months.

Pioneer unveiled several new DVD devices, including one that combines a hard-disk drive with a DVD recorder for both long- and short-term storage of content. It will retail for $999 and will include the ability for consumers to watch a DVD disc while recording a TV program or play content from the hard drive while recording onto DVD.

In what's becoming a regular event, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates gave a keynote speech on the eve of the show and once again touted the software giant's aggressive move into consumer electronics.

Among the products Gates previewed was an Internet-enabled wristwatch ($200-$1,000) capable of instant messaging, news, sports traffic and – of course – exact time. Gates also showcased personal video recorders that feature Microsoft technology afrom ViewSonic, Sanyo, Samsung and iRiver. A new portable machine features a 4-inch screen and can download and store up to 20 GB for 10 hours of digital video.

However, Microsoft and its hardware partners in this category will likely face strong competition, as Intel and ReplayTV maker Sonicblue also used CES to showcase their own handheld video viewers.

Gates also announced a new video compression format that allows PC files to be played on TVs using a DVD player equipped with Microsoft software.

Add Comment