Video services

CES 2009: Show Wrap-Up

The 2009 International CES closed Sunday, with preliminary estimates of around 110,000 attendees, about 30,000 fewer than last year's total. But even though the cab lines were slightly shorter (45 minutes vs. an hour), there was more than enough to see and do as we scanned the show floor for hints of what service providers may be buying, trying, and (maybe) managing in the near future.

And, yes, we took lots of photos. If you're aching for one last CES slideshow, here it is:

Maria Bartiromo While at the show, we took note of 40 new products and services that are most likely to be very important in the year ahead. Those are described and ranked, based on our first impressions, right here in this handy table:

Table 1: CES 2009: Show Stoppers
2Wire HomePortal GEM * * * * Being offered through carriers, GEM is a home gateway that can run applications written by third parties. Imagine if AT&T got a cut of every iPhone application sold. GEM opens the possibility of that business model, and because it's offered through carriers, there should be no learning curve for users.
ActiveVideo Networks ActiveVideo platform **** Using a client-server architecture, the platform enables cable operators to deliver Web-sourced video (Hulu, YouTube, et al) via the operator's legacy platform, transforming IPTV streams into MPEG-based VoD streams that widely deployed non-IP set-tops can decode and display. ActiveVideo could finally become a true player now that cable MSOs are starting to embrace "over-the-top" video, knowing that they can no longer ignore it. However, deals and deployments remain in relatively short supply, though company says it's got a lot of business in the hopper in 2009. On the plus side, ActiveVideo's approach prevents MSOs from having to switch out millions of older set-top boxes.
ADB 4820C set-top box *** The first (and only, so far) cable set-top to win CableLabs certification is a "set-back" box that's designed to bolt to the back of certain Sony-made Bravia digital TVs. The initial product is a relatively baseline HD box that can handle cable's interactive services, but offers no on-board DVR. The product demonstrates an additional way to apply the tru2way platform, and, more than anything, shows that Sony is at least sort of interested in pursuing a tru2way strategy.
Asus EEE PC 100HG WiMax **** Mini Laptop with WiMax and a sharp, small display and 1GB of memory, perfect for overburdened roadwarriors. Battery life could be an issue with 6 hours or less on the spec sheet.
Broadcom CPE DSL SoC * * * * Experienced DSL chipset vendor shows off xDSL system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions that support all VDSL2 bands FTTP is hot, but VDSL2 will be the mass market telco broadband technology for a few more years.
Broadcom Corp. BCM3380 Docsis 3.0 cable modem chipset * * * * Broadcom's first chipset for the full Docsis 3.0 specs are capable of bonding eight downstream channels and four upstream channels. The downstream element represents double the minimum requirements of the CableLabs specs. The integration of components, including silicon-based tuners, could contribute to lower wideband modem unit prices and spur additional MSO adoption. At full capacity, the chipset can produced shared downstream speeds of 320 Mbit/s, giving cable operators an efficient way to complement their existing offerings with IP-based video services. Among cable modem vendors, Thomson has acknowledged it will submit a stand-alone modem and a voice modem to CableLabs for certification that use Broadcom's new silicon.
Broadcom Corp. Multimedia over Coax Association (MoCA) chipset * * * * Highly integrated MoCA chipset that aims to give operators a video networking/whole-home DVR option that costs up to 40 percent less than existing, less integrated MoCA chipsets. If Broadcom is successful at reducing MoCA chipset pricing, it could finally spur cable MSOs to adopt the technology and bring a whole-home DVR product to market that competes with Verizon's FiOS TV and AT&T's U-verse service. But, like all MoCA solutions, this one will be competing with other options, including HomePNA, Ultrawideband and a flavor of UWB that can be fed over coax.
Cisco Systems Linksys Media Hub * * * * Finds and keeps your media files "accessible and orderly, in one place, whether you�re at home or on the road." Like the Apple TV, but with more networking savvy. This begs to be a managed device/service from carriers in the next year or two.
Cisco Systems Cisco Eos * * * * * Hosted white-label software platform that media companies can use to push content to devices and build communities around their artists and brands. This is a big deal as it solidifies Cisco itself as a type of service provider. Better to be more like Google and less like Avici Systems these days.
Cisco Systems Cisco Wireless Home Audio system * * * Combines your digital music and Internet music services and networking technology to provide a whole-home music system, with no wiring required. Love the iPod dock, but it's not enough of an integration for most people. Apple will likely take this concept even further in the next year, so it'll be worth waiting for that.
Cradlepoint WiMax Router * * * Battery powered WiMax router for Clearwire converts WiMax Signal to WiFi, can support up to 8 connections. Simple useful device, available soon.
Dell Inspiron Mini 9 * * * * $99 mini-laptop with 3G & WiFi Limited time offer with a mail-in rebate and a two year contract with AT&T.
Digeo Inc. Moxi HD DVR * * * * Digeo's latest box supports a 500-gigabyte hard drive, plus an option that allows buyers to add another 2 terabytes via external drives. Guide is HD-optimized and can pull in content from Internet partners. Future options will turn the box into a whole-home DVR. CableCARD support gives it access to cable's broadcast digital video products. Available on Amazon.com and Moxi.com. It's hard to believe, particularly in this economy, that legions of consumers will want to pony up $799 for a top-shelf DVR.
EchoStar Technologies "Sling-loaded" HD DVR 922 set-top/receiver * * * * * High-end set-top, which got "Best of Show" honors at this year's confab, integrates the SlingMedia "place-shifting" application, taking some of the work and headaches sometimes associated with trying to install a seperate box. This initial version is for EchoStar corporate cousin Dish Network Corp. However, that diffentiator could be short-lived if EchoStar decides to offer a similar feature in its forthcoming line of tru2way set-tops for the cable market.
HTC S740 * * * Windows 3G GSM phone with slide-out keyboard. Will be sold unlocked in the U.S. so can be used with AT&T or T-Mobile.
Huawei BM325 USB WiMax Modem * * * Tiny USB Dongle for laptops Small, likely cheap.
Ikanos and GlobalWireless Femto-enabled home gateway platform * * * * Femto-enabled home gateway platform Must be one of the earliest combo platforms
LG Electronics Watch Phone * * * * Small prototype phone you can wear on your arm. Going to need to use a headset unless you want everyone to hear you.
LG Electronics Network Blu-ray Disc Players with LG's "NetCast Entertainment Access" * * * * A Blu-ray player, with access to all the VoD content you can shake a stick at. Again, can someone remind me why I'm paying for so many channels that I don't watch when I'm literally tripping over devices like this at CES?
Microsoft Corp. Mediaroom Anytime * * * * Let's carrier pay TV subs access previously aired shows, on any channel, directly from their program guide. No DVR required. This is the telco answer to Cablevision's RS-DVR and could easily be a favorite feature, if implemented the right way.
Motorola Renew * * * * A phone made entirely from recycled water bottles. Nasty yellow color.
Motorola CDMA 9100 Series femtocell * * * * CDMA femtocell in a digital picture frame. Moto's attempt to make femtocell's more attractive to consumers.
Motorola MotoSURF A3100 * * * * 3G Windows-based touch-screen phone with WiFi and a slick navigation screen. Cool rounded design but no real QWERTY keys.
NetGear Wireless gigabit router (WNDR3700) * * * * Dual 2.4 and 5 GHz router with gigabit ports and a USB port intended for external storage, making it suitable as a gateway hub for multiple computers. $179 price tag, available in Q1. Won CES's "Best of Innovations" in the home networking category
NetGear 3G Mobile Broadband Wireless Router (MBR624GU) * * * * Becomes a WiFi hotspot once you add your own 3G USB modem A $129 gadget aimed at business travellers.
NetGear Internet TV Player (ITV2000) * * * Compact $199 set-top device that delivers Internet video to the TV screen, targeting high-def downloads, live streams, and yes, YouTube and its ilk. Available this summer. Not meant to work with a computer; it's a standalone Internet-to-TV play. Big-time demand for that might be a generation away.
Nokia E63 North American Edition * * * * UMTS 3G cellphone, larger keyboard and display. $279, coming soon, A cheaper US handet for business folk.
NTT IPv6 IPTV * * * * Multicast IPTV service over end-to-end IPV6 Not only enables greater address volume but, according to NTT, IPV6 has "a number of enhancements for multicast and quality of service support" that will help IPTV service providers, which sounds intriguing.
Powerbeam Power over wireless ** Power connections over the air Everyone hates cables!
Research In Motion Curve 8900 * * * Thinnest full-qwerty BlackBerry ever, WiFi onboard, coming in February from T-Mobile. No 3G, not really that thin in comparison to some other phones.
Samsung Eternity * * * 3 megapixel camera phone with digital video capture. Cool multimedia phone.
Sezmi Sezmi's digital media receiver and service * * * * * Finally, someone has created a real contender to replace pay TV services nationwide. If you are happy with broadcast TV channels, a DVR, and personalized over-the-top video, you can kiss your cable bill goodbye with the Sezmi reciever and service. It'll be interesting to see if the nationwide distribution of Sezmi puts additional price pressure on the telcos and cable operators. The company says even its premium pay TV service won't be more than $50 a month.
Sigma Designs Cable set-top/gateway (reference design) * * * Based on tru2way, Sigma showed off a cable set-top/gateway that incorporates its own backend decoding silicon, a Docsis 3.0 modem powered by Texas Instruments, and Ultrawideband-over-coax, a technololgy that competes with MoCA, HomePlug, HomePNA, and other high-end systems that can shuttle video around the house. When it comes to U.S. cable adoption, Sigma thinks the window for its approach is still wide open, noting that technology directions are likely to be made this year, followed by deployments in 2010. In addition to serving as a QAM/IP hybrid, thanks to the on-board wideband element, the design also aims to serve as a multi-room DVR using UWB as the IP-based home network delivery mechanism. Today, Sigma estimates that the UWB element can deliver 120 Mbit/s of effective throughput, with speeds up to 320 Mbit/s are on the horizon.
Sony 3D video * * Sony chief Sir Howard Stringer showed it off during his keynote, serving up a few movie clips and some clips from the recently played Orange Bowl. The technology is light years ahead of previous generations that used old red/blue glasses, but even the latest specs did cause some eye strain after a few minutes. For now, it's an interesting concept with some diffentiation potential for TVs and digital cinemas. Will probably have trouble getting past the gimmick stage.
Thomson Video Access Point * * WiFi-enabled device grabs video from the cable set-top or another video source and redistributes it over IP to PCs, Web tablets, and other satellite boxes that can display IPTV. Could be interesting if operators choose to offer a Slingbox-like experience in, or out of, the home. Thomson says it could have the product ready to roll in 2009.
Thomson DCI707 * * * A baseline tru2way-powered cable set-top that does hi-def, decodes both MPEG-2/MPEG-2 video. No retail play. Thomson will sell it directly to MSOs. Although products like this will help to expand and further seed the tru2way, it's a core offering that doesn't extinguish itself much from other boxes that cable operators lease to customers. But the box, which is small but not Amino-like small, did run a pretty nifty looking "Dashboard" tru2way application from enableTV, providing personalized, widget-like features. Thomson expects to put out a DVR version next year .
Thomson Advanced Cable Gateway * * * * * Aiming to take the embedded multimedia terminal adapter (EMTA) to the next level and help cable MSOs up the ante on what consumers can expect from the phone service of the not-too-distant future, this puppy's packed with goodies: a DECT overlay, WiFi, a Docsis 2.0 modem, support for PacketCable 1.5 and UPnP, a router. More generally speaking, it supplies an IP-based digital interface to all the DECT-based phones in the house. IP-connected Web tablets can also join the fun. In terms of applications, it supports the telephony features you'd expect, plus easy access to the Yellow Pages, weather and news updates, "visual" voice mail, and address books. It also aims to personalize the experience. One example: this multimedia hub can support individual phone numbers for each member of the household. Thomson says the product is ready to ship and has trials underway with a major MSO. One candidate is Comcast, which already buys EMTAs from Thomson, has already developed a unified messaging system called "SmartZone," and has plans underway to offer an "enhanced" cordless phone offering that takes advantage of DECT phones. So we'll just try to connect some of those dots here for you.
T-Mobile Cameo * * * A wireless digital picture frame that also allows the user to send text & picture messages. Interesting concept but how practical is it?
Source: Light Reading

Obviously, we don't attempt to cover the entire world of consumer electronics and related services – it's still hard to track even the most modest coverage of a show that large. For that reason, we present this breakdown of news stories, news wires, photo essays, and blogs from last week, so you can keep reliving the magic and majesty of CES all year long. This report includes:

The photos for the slideshow in this report were taken by Dan Diaz/Filmsight. The captions, as always, are not his fault.

— The Staff, Light Reading

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kumaramitabh 12/5/2012 | 4:13:40 PM
re: CES 2009: Show Wrap-Up Nice summing up in Table 1. But we can not leave out the ComMAXGäó CM1125 multimode mobile WiMAX/EDGE baseband processor from Comsys which was demonstrated using a prototype of their S370 Personal Internet Communicator working on both Mobile WiMAX and GSM networks. I like it because of its native support of WiMAX VoIP coupled with roaming support to GSM using IMS. This is the only practical way today to use WiMAX VoIP with traditional voice networks, both fixed line and wireless. The built in GPS is a bonus.
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