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Wednesday, January 16 2008

CES 2008 : technologies

Introduction

Voilà un petit résumé de ce que j'ai pensé du CES. Et contrairement aux autres articles, celui-ci est en français.

CES 2008

Le CES de Las Vegas est le plus grand salon international portant sur l’électronique grand public. C’est un salon riche en annonces marketing mais qui présente des nouvelles technologies et dégage les grandes tendances du marché que nous allons essayer de présenter ici.

Ce CES nous a montré l’omniprésence de la haute définition, la simplification des interfaces utilisateurs, la convergence des appareils et les communications inter-appareils, l’importance de la consommation d’énergie et de l’importance du design des appareils.

HD

A propos de la haute définition (HD), la norme est le 1080p (résolution de 1920x1080 en format 16:9 en trames non-entrelacées). Cette résolution se retrouve dans les lecteurs optiques, caméscopes, les appareils photos, les câbles (HDMI 1.3 est la norme) et les télévisions. La bataille entre les formats optiques semble être gagnée par le Blu-Ray au détriment de l’HD-DVD et le codec vidéo de référence pour la HD est le H.264 au détriment du VC-1, et de nombreux appareils comportent des circuits pour compenser les défauts de ce codec. Les meilleures télévisions sont ultrafines, ont un design très travaillé, des diagonales supérieurs à 100 pouces et utilisent des fréquences de rafraichissement de 120Hz pour améliorer la fluidité des images.

Connexions

Au niveau des connexions, plusieurs technologies sans-fils entrent en concurrence afin de connecter tous les appareils en HD et sans aucune action de l’utilisateur. Panasonic utilise des fréquences de 60Ghz pour son « Wireless HD », l’USB-W essaye de s’imposer mais on trouve l’utilisation du Wifi 802.11n (2.4Ghz) et 802.11a (5.0Ghz) ou de la bande des 5.8Ghz. Aucun réel standard ne semble encore se détacher.

Simplification

La convergence et la simplification des interfaces, dont l’iPhone est un bon exemple, sont devenues un élément clé et permettent de connecter les appareils et créer des réseaux, échanger des photos, des vidéos et des documents et automatiser tous ces appareils sans aucune connaissance technique. Cette tendance se retrouve dans l’ensemble des appareils du salon.

Divers

Alors que la plupart des appareils utilisent des standards et que les fonctionnalités se valent, les constructeurs essayent de se démarquer en se focalisant sur le design et sur la faible consommation des appareils.

Enfin, l’importance du domaine ludique par rapport aux années précédentes donne une nouvelle importance aux loisirs à la maison.

Sunday, January 13 2008

CES Inside: Conclusion

Personnal thought on the CES

This was my first CES and my first time in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a crazy city, to see at least once in a man's life. I am not sure I would spend long holidays there or go there with my girlfriend/wife. But some casinos are not buildings but monuments.

CES 2008 was a good show, but had some big failures:

  • CES is too much on marketing and not enough technological for me. This is a bit of a shame.
  • There are too many babes and women on the stands and not enough on the other side of the stands.
  • There were too few technical information, so we can't see the difference between a great product and a great presentation.
  • Wireless connection and transportation sucked.

CES 2008 showed some winners and tendencies. No actual surprises, but confirmations:

  • Blu Ray vs HD-DVD
  • Wireless between devices ( Wifi, USB-W, 60Ghz, 5.8Ghz )
  • HD 1080p, 120hz and more
  • TV-connected device, Home server and centralization
  • Domotic isn't ready yet
  • Design/Art can be important for every technological device
  • Green and ecology friendly
  • Phones aren't phones anymore, they do eveything
  • Games can get companies a lot of money

VLC

I have counted 6 VLC media player in action on the different stands.

Wednesday, January 9 2008

CES Inside: Day 3 (Sands, south hall)

Last day in Vegas

For my last day in vegas, I woke up a bit earlier than usually, checked out and went straight to the Venetian.

Main Sands convention center

Those stands were more numerous and smaller, and a lot from small OEM companies from south-east asia, so I was less interested by those.

However, there were some cool robots, some nice iPod extensions, and a lot of gadgets everywhere. I had time to talk wiht some musicIP people.

There were some same of the cool stuffs all over the place, but not really compelling.

CES Design awards

This part was supposed to be one of the top interesting part of the CES... It wasn't. Some were pretty good, but overall, the quality wasn't, especially when they give awards to atomchip.

The only cool part was the wireless and intelligent kitchen.

Las vegas convention center

So I went back to the main convention center and the south halls.

Keyboard

I went to test the lebedev Optimus Maximus keyboard, which is really a good stuff.

I was afraid that the feeling of this keyboard was too hard, but it wasn't.

I was also concerned about the reactivity of the modification of the keys symbol. I shouldn't had been concerned.

A bit expensive, but it works pretty well.

Acer EEE

I went again to the EEE stand from ACER and tried to talk to some engineer in order to hack it to install a software on it, like a VLC :D

They use a derivate of Xandros, but there is almost no way of accessing a console or installing stuffs inside without destroying it. We boot to a console by modifying the GRUB command line. Most programs now are a derivate of KDE 3.5 applications.

The laptop is light and beautiful, the screen is too small, but next generation will do it.

I may buy one soon

iRiver

I went back to see iRiver since they had a lot of announces, and I played with the new models.

I personnaly really like the P10 PMP, but I have to check it more soon.

Lenovo IdeaPad

As I use a T61p, I wanted to test more the ideaPad.

It is a good product, but for lower-entry market and too fragile, with a bad screen. This isn't for a geek but for attacking low-money markets. I just hope that the commercialization will see some better resolutions

TEH end

I will not attend the last day of the CES, I have seen enough of everything.

Back to hotel, last dollar lost in a casino, plane and back home.

CES Inside: Day 2 (Main Hall, North hall)

No keynotes

Today, I decided to not go to the keynotes, because I was bored by the previous ones.

North Hall

The north hall is just about Vehicles and technologies inside those vehicles.

In short:

  • DVD, DivX players inside the car
  • CD/Mp3 player that can connect to your iPhone/MP3Player wirelessly
  • GPS, GPS and GPS devices
  • 5.1 for the cars
  • Devices doing all the above and smaller :D
  • Tunning, tunning, tunning and pornostars
  • Huge sound speakers and subwoofer.

I did that with LordRPI from DivX Corporation.

So this was not really my cup of tea, but interesting to know.

Central hall

The central Hall had many things to offer, and confirmed the tendencies of the previous day.

However, I had the possibility to try/test:

  • Microsoft Surface: a big iPhone, but well done.
  • Sony OLED: amazing
  • TI DLP and 3D television: TI seems to be really ahead of the competition on that part. I really loved their 2 screens on the same screen concept. You can watch NFL and your wife Iceskating on the same screen without any fight.
  • Intel: is this a technology firm ? It seemed more to be a marketing one. Noone was able to answer our question on SSE4 or on a roadmap.
  • LG LCD in a small corridor to go through the halls. They seemed to be over the top. I still prefer Sharp's LCD, but maybe the $$$ will make the difference.

Technologies

More:

  • HD, HD, HD!
  • Serving everywhere in the house (M$ Home server and WMP enhancer) and on the web (M$ Office Live)
  • Wireless Intel WiMax and 802.11n and wireless connections between devices. USB-Wireless, WiFi (802.11a and 802.11n) proprietary wireless and bluetooth are fighting there
  • No computer, TV can do everything or some set-top-box.
  • No phone can only phone. The IPhone had made some people jealous, I guess.
  • Greener: everyone seems to begin to care about less consumption and less waste. Waouw. Even the CES started to do it...
  • 3D TV; a lot offer different concepts, but this is more and more bearable.

Back home

Exhausted, I came back to my hotel and went to see more casinos. Some of them are so impressive, like Bellagio or Paris.

Tuesday, January 8 2008

CES Inside: Day 1 (South Hall)

Long day ahead

I tried to do all the South Hall this day. There are the most interesting and numerous stands.

Panasonic keynote

Beside the bu*****t marketing, there were a few good innovations that gave the tone to the whole CES:

  • Bigger screens
  • HD 1080p and more everywhere
  • Wireless technologies inside the components
  • Easier to use for everyone, software is important
  • Huge future market for more products

Best things

Computers

Dell and HP are fighting in a couple of different ways. One of them is the gaming systems. Dell Alienware and HP Blackbird/Voodoo where difficult to avoid at the entry of the southern hall up-stage.

This was pretty interesting since neither nVidia nor ATI came to the CES. A few innovations were present and tested, but this was mainly already seen things. This was the first time I had seen a triple SLI in action.

Those machines are way too expensive and consume too much power, but I can understand those as a vitrine technologique.

Sound

The sound was honored by all the stands.

Creative was one of the most visible, with a pretty big stand, and focusing on high-market, gamer market and quality stereo headphones.

iRiver, my beloved Cowon and most of the big players were here.

A lot of the stands that weren't focused on sound had some loud volume too to attract tourists :D.

Home Cinema

The CES is the paradize of TVs.

Almost every stand had hundred of huge HD TV, using Plasma or LCD (Samsung and sharp being the master of LCD, Panasonic of Plasma), but all displaying 1080p or 4k streams, using 120hz (or even 240hz for TI). A lot of stands had motion algorithm for image and compression compensation.

So high quality, LCD getting better and better, content quality, compensation and HD everywhere.

New codecs for home cinema: DTS Master Audio, H264 High profile, Dolby TrueHD are the clear winners. I haven't seen a lot of VC-1 nor all the intermediate dts and dolby codecs.

I have tried a few 3D displays which seems to be interesting and working. I am not sure they will be in my living-room tomorrow...

Multimedia

I have spend some time on the DivX, RealNetwork, Gracenote, MusicIP stands. They seem to make the most money on CE integration and services for manufacturer and on music platform for consumer than anything else.

I didn't thought that before.

Streaming

Every storage manufacturer has a media server, every wifi, sound or codec company have their home media center to stream everything to the TV. And some are using VLC.

Storage

Flash everywhere, SSD, Hybrid disks, and miniSD cards of 32GB were on the top of the CES.

Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD. Unfortunately, Blu-Ray has clearly won the CES2008 battle. Consumers will loose. :'(

2008 might be the year of the SSD ?

CES Inside: Day 0 (Bill Gates Keynote)

Arriving in Las Vegas

I attend the CES 2008 this year, with the French Office for Science and Technology.

We arrived on Sunday, 6th, in the morning after a very nice flight from San Francisco.

We went to our hotel, on the strip and then headed to the Venetian Hotel in order to see Bill Gates' keynote.

After a long wait, we entered and listen/watch to the Gates' keynote.

Bill Gates' keynote

One word is enough: BORING!

I hoped that this visionnaire still had great ideas... It doesn't seem so anymore.

The first half hour was poor jokes and non-surprising and Video-Gag-like humour. Politically correct and marketing... Great. The topic was the fact that B.Gates will leave Microsoft in July, and this was his last keynote in the CES (so this was kind of special). So it was to be fun and more about M.Gates than Microsoft.

Well, there was a part about Microsoft future: HD everywhere, Net/Soft convergence and more games. Hello Mr. obvious!

Then, great innovations: Zune social (last.fm revisited), Zune in your car using wireless (waouw... sigh), Windows Live (webservices on a centralised ID) and Silverlight (flash revisited...).

Great news: Vista is a success, 100 millions sold this year ( how many without computers? how many choose it ?)

Great news 2: XBox made more money than PS3 or Wii! Ok. What about the margins ?

Well, as you can see, this was not the best thing ever, but the CES public is a bit more marketing people than tech, so they didn't really see the problem.

Night

After, I went out and started to visit a few casinos. This was really interesting.

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