More articles by Richard L. Tso
Backstage Pass to CES 2013: UltraViolet, Smart TVs and Connected Gadgets Are All the Rage
The moment we have all been waiting for has arrived: CES International has kicked off in Las Vegas for four days, beginning yesterday. The CES 2013 trade show is the world’s largest annual innovation event and offers presentations, exhibitions, events, and conferences for technology and gadget connoisseurs. We are providing our readers with an all-access backstage pass to all the latest on new tablets, smartphones, accessories, TVs, and news debuting at CES.
UltraViolet Is the Future of Entertainment
Entertainment consumption and distribution has evolved dramatically over the last couple years as players in the space have begun to move away from physical mediums like DVDs and Blu-Ray discs and toward on-demand digital streaming services. Seeking to promote and accelerate their UltraViolet digital initiative in order to keep consumers buying and watching movies at home, a group of six Hollywood studios announced a promotional partnership with top electronics companies at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday.
Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, unveiled the plan along with Hollywood studio executives at his CES opening keynote address. Representatives of the participating movie studios appeared on stage for the joint announcement, including Warner Bros. President Ron Sanders, along with executives from Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Sanders explained that the idea is for these major studios to provide movies and entertainment to consumers, allowing them to view that content on any of their devices.
As part of this news, starting later this year, people who buy certain Internet-connected Blu-ray disc players will get five free movies in their UltraViolet digital lockers. Buyers of certain Internet-connected televisions will get 10 free online films. The promotion is intended to give consumers a reason to try out UltraViolet, which lets users store movies online and stream or download them on a variety of Internet-connected digital devices.
Manufacturers participating in the promotion include LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Vizio. Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. are all providing movies enabled for Ultraviolet.
Rise of Smart Gadgets
At this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, everything is getting a wee bit “smarter.” Smartphones nullified the notion that cellphones have to be limited to just making calls, and tablets like the iPad Mini and the Microsoft Surface redefined the term personal computer. Now, the buzz at the world’s largest tech gadget conference has shifted from the devices themselves and towards making everyday household item more intelligent by being connected to the Internet.
“Things are better when they’re connected,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of emerging devices at AT&T Inc. “They’re smart when they’re connected, they’re dumb when they’re not.”
Samsung arrived at CES 2013 with more gadgets and tech gear than ever before. The South Korean company took center stage at the annual tech show on Tuesday to unveil everything from TVs to cameras, home audio gear, laptops and more.
But the real focus was on Smart TVs. Joining Toshiba and Vizio, Samsung announced its own Ultra HD TV. For those who are new to this new 1984-esque telescreen phenomenon, Ultra HD TVs have much crisper content due to four times the resolution of the current 1080p high-definition TVs.
“The focus at this show for us is TVs,” said David Steel, Samsung Vice President of North America.
Steel also mentioned that Samsung is focusing on improving its graphic user interface and making its TVs more talkative, connected and integrated with mobile devices. For advertisers, this may mean a hardware backbone to create multi-screen ad campaigns across different devices. If you believe the rumor mill, Apple is also believed to be releasing its own HDTV this year.
“If you look at smart TVs we are already number one,” commented Steel. “We have built that out and we are building the ecosystem. And with also our position with phones and tablets we see consumers being on their phones and tablets. We see plenty of room to continue that innovation, but also to be able to link them.”
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