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CES Opening Acts: Samsung, Panasonic, Sony

LAS VEGAS--The Consumer Electronics Show's opening date is yet another departure from the truth in this city of artifice: Many companies get their news out of the way before the show formally opens.

That list could start with Microsoft, which used last night's keynote address to announce the availability of a beta release of Windows 7, its next operating system, as well as a variety of minor upgrades to other products.


But earlier in the day, other vendors did their own part to get a jump on CES.

* Samsung's press conference focused on the same themes I saw in subsequent presentations: environmental efficiency, Web connectivity, and three-dimensional video. The ideas behind the first and third talking points should be easy enough to grasp, but the other demands a few more specifics. In Samsung's case, Web-media access means YouTuibe video clips, Flickr photos and other online fare, courtesy of embedded Yahoo software. This feature builds on the basic Internet connectivity introduced in some 2008 Samsung HDTVs, which can download and display headlines provided by a USA Today RSS feed.

* Panasonic also talked up energy-efficiency, Web media and 3D goals. An upgraded version of its Viera Cast system, to be included on HDTVs and Blu-ray players this year, will provide access to Amazon Video On Demand in addition to YouTube Clips and Picasa photo galleries. The company also unveiled a portable Blu-ray player, the first I've seen. And Panasonic made an especially aggressive pitch for 3D video at home---it invited journalists to watch a highlight reel of 3D clips, which relied on slightly too heavy 3D glasses and sometimes, I thought, caused foreground objects to look momentarily like cardboard cutouts in front of the background. Beforehand, one executive warned that "3D in the home will never truly flower unless we have a national standard"--but didn't drag up the electronics industry's sorry record of failing to agree on common standards for new features.

* Sony, like Samsung, said it would add Yahoo software to its HDTVs and Blu-ray players (LG and Vizio will also join this club) and revealed upcoming developments across a variety of gadgets. For instance, some of its camcorders--but, oddly enough, not cameras---will come with Global Positioning System chips to help locate themselves in unfamiliar settings and geotag recordings and still pictures. It also unveiled a new mini-laptop that it asked attendees not to call a netbook--although the Vaio P Series' use of Windows Vista, $899-and-up price and array of Verizon Wireless 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS capabilities doesn't fit into any usual definition of "netbook."

There will be far more news at CES today, but I'll take a pause this morning to answer your questions in a Web chat, starting at noon Eastern time. I'll talk to you then - or post your comments and questions here.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 8, 2009; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  CES 2009 , TV , Video  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Liveblogging Steve Ballmer's CES Keynote
Next: Palm Introduces Prē Smartphone



Love to hear about the rumored new Palm devices; I may be the last guy around who cares, but my wife's got a Treo (and loves it), and I'm just waiting to see if Palm's going to wither away or actually has a product (and an updated OS) worth thinking about. The Centro's screen is WAY small, and I don't want to pay the freight for a iPhone.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

What is a "departure from the ruth" ?

Posted by: mediaskeptic | January 8, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I am planning to return my Blackberry Storm and while it seems to be a need device, anyone who will be using a Blackberry to respond to numerous e-mails or text messages, will likely find the need to switch keyboards for numbers and significant characters, i.e., : //, etc., etc [which are not on the main keyboard] a pain in the a$$.

Plus typing speed on the virtual keyboard, even with the 'click' doesn't always produce the letter the first time.

If 'being cool in certain crowds' then maybe the i-phone and the storm are for you, BUT IF REAL BUSINESS is why you want such a device, get the Blackberry Curve.

Posted by: | January 8, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It's curious that Sony or Panasonic, the senior promoters of Blu-ray, will add Web video or HD download features to their HDTVs or even the BD player themselves. This could undercut or obliterate the market for Blu-ray discs altogether. Download or on-line definition may be lower, but the convenience so much greater, that fewer will by Blu-ray players at all. As it is, the same companies are already selling standard DVD players with HDMI connections, at prices way below Blu-Ray, and with advertising that they are "the ideal player for your HDTV." Some of the standard sets come bundled with 5-channel sound systems on attractive terms. Consumers can hardly help being confused and lured.

Posted by: jkoch2 | January 8, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh, well. Sprint's the exclusive source for the new Palm Pre? C'est la vie. Sprint coverage in my neighborhood is dreadful.

Looks like a nice little toy, though.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

They finished the roll-out without giving any prices?

That can't be good. I smell $$$$$.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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