Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry
(Last edited: segunda, 2 janeiro 2006, 10:15 )
Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry
By DAMON DARLIN
Published: January 2, 2006, NYT
televisions will be getting bigger, the MP3 players and cellphones will
be getting smaller. And almost everything will be getting cheaper.
A new control pad from Elan operates any number of items in the home, from the TV to the drapes.
But the biggest trend
expected at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins
this week in Las Vegas, is that these machines will be communicating
with one another. The theme of this year's show might best be described
as Convergence: This Time We Mean It.
For more than a decade,
manufacturers of consumer electronics like televisions and audio gear
have talked about blending their products with personal computers, so
that consumers can enjoy a seamless stream of data, video and music
anywhere. It has not happened, because the two industries do not have
compatible technology standards and the requisite high-speed Internet
connections have not been widespread enough.
This year all that
changes, say executives who will be introducing new products at the
show. They say that consumers will finally be able to sling images and
sound wirelessly around a room or an entire house. The major
electronics makers will be showing TV's with computer capabilities and
phones that will play video and music, as well as the next generation
of digital recording and storage devices.
convergence may now be possible, some fear the industries have not yet
made connecting all those devices simple enough for the average user.
is still a lot of confusion around the connected home," said Van L.
Baker, a market analyst with Gartner, a technology research and
consulting firm. "Reducing it will be the challenge to keeping the
Getting consumers past the confusion of how to link, say, a PC to a TV will be the next big hurdle.
show comes after a very good year for consumer electronics. Plasma and
liquid-crystal display televisions, MP3 players and digital cameras
with five or more megapixels of resolution have been big sellers.
"We don't see any reason that this will slow down anytime soon," Mr.
Baker said. "The transition of entertainment from analog to digital, of
time-shifting and place-shifting, is just getting under way."
of the electronics show, the biggest trade show in the country, will be
scrambling to get a first glimpse at some of the products that will
fuel the growth of the industry, which represents $126 billion in
annual sales. The annual exhibition is off limits to the general
public, but it is expected to attract 130,000 executives, dealers,
journalists and investors.
More than 2,500 exhibitors, a
record, spread across 1.6 million square feet, another record, will try
to grab their attention. This year, 6 percent of the exhibitors will be
from China, illustrating that nation's significance as a major player
in the industry. Among foreign attendees, China will rank third, behind
Canada and Taiwan.
The show is more than just a display of new
technological toys. It is also a forum for industry executives to forge
alliances and present new business strategies.
Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, will give his vision of the future in a speech Wednesday evening. Sir Howard Stringer, the chairman and chief executive of Sony, will take his turn Thursday morning. On Friday morning Terry Semel, the chairman and chief executive of Yahoo, will speak, followed later that day by Larry Page, a co-founder of Google.
plans a major announcement about its new Viiv (rhymes with drive)
multimedia platform, which will power PC's built to deliver digital
entertainment. Intel hopes that Viiv will transform the home computer
in the same way that its Centrino platform transformed the laptop into
a mobile communications device. Paul S. Otellini, the chief executive
of Intel, will give a speech Thursday evening outlining Intel's road
Manufacturers are expecting another record year in 2006,
but with continuing declines in prices. Across a broad swath of
categories like cameras and audio and DVD players, consumers will pay
less and get more features. Even in the flat-panel TV industry, prices
dropped as much as 40 percent in 2005. This trend will translate into
slower revenue growth in 2006.
As for new areas of growth,
analysts are predicting big sales of game consoles in 2006 as Sony
introduces its PlayStation 3 and Nintendo
brings out its Revolution console. Both devices, like the new Microsoft
Xbox 360, can be used as the central node for a wirelessly networked
Electronics companies will also be introducing new home
media servers and TV's that can receive digital content wirelessly from
a PC or via an HDMI cable (for high-definition multimedia interface).
Another hot topic at the show will be IPTV, or Internet protocol
television, which sends programming over the Internet through a
Then there are the companies, like Elan
Home Systems, that want to get right in the middle and sell devices to
control all the networked appliances. Elan will be at the show
introducing a control pad for everything in your house, from electronic
devices to the drapes.
While major players in the electronics
industry continue to squabble over the format of the next generation of
DVD's - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD - both factions will be showing products
that consumers can buy this year. The new players will be expensive,
some costing more than $1,000. Still, the industry expects to sell
about a half-million of the new players in 2006, mostly as components
in PC's rather than as stand-alone devices.
In the audio sector, companies are seeking ways to take advantage of the popularity and dominance of the Apple iPod.
Several manufacturers are planning to announce products that will work
with the iPod to move music to devices around the house.
Another big trend, said Steve Tirado, chief executive of Silicon Image, a semiconductor maker, is bigger storage devices. "People want a place to consolidate their digital media."
Rubin, the director for industry analysis at NPD, a market research
firm, said that apart from home networking systems, some new
technologies would make their way to consumer markets this year.
Canon and Toshiba
will both present televisions with surface-conduction electron-emitter
displays. The technology produces crisper pictures than can be offered
by existing flat-panel televisions, the manufacturers say. The sets
will go on sale later this year.
Other Asian TV manufacturers
will also demonstrate sets built with new organic light-emitting diodes
that use less energy and could one day be cheaper to produce than
liquid-crystal display panels.
Another notable product
development to be seen at the show is the miniaturization of
cathode-ray tube technology to fit into flat-panel televisions,
allowing what could be the best-quality picture yet. "They will be very
high end, very expensive," said Mr. Rubin. But like that of so many
products at the show, the price will eventually go down.