Here's our own Fred Manteghian blogging away in the press room. I was wondering how he was getting some of his entries up so fast until I discovered he uses his Blackberry to get online while he's still on the show floor. Way to go Fred, use that technology !
Its been awhile since I had heard from Moxi, whose DVR didn't get nearly as much recognition as TiVo. Making a stronger, more earnest effort to make a name for themeselves in that category, Moxi introduced a HD DVR here at CES. They made it clear this is a high quality solution for digital cable subscribers. Satellite users need not apply, The unit is far more than a straightforward DVR, as it serves as the hub for all your media with a 500GB hard drive. If that's not enough it can be upgraded to maximum of 2TB. Of course, it can also share content from your home (wired) network and interface with an iTunes library. It also provides access to web-based services such as Flickr for photo sharing and Finetune, a music streaming service. Instead of charging a monthly fee for their service, you pay a one time fee of $799 for the basic model. If I rememeber correctly, that was TiVo's original business model and they realized they made more money charging a monthly fee. So we'll see how succcessful this is for Moxi.
The use of music servers rather than CD/DVD transports was a common occurrence among high-end manufacturers at the Venetian exhibits. By using servers, they can store high resolution, loss-less files that are far superior to standard CDs, which are limited to 16bits.
Snell Acoustics new Illusion reference monitors are the ultimate LCR, selling for $10,000 a piece. The Illusion series speakers incorporates a new concept in enclosure design that significantly reduces resonance and spurious vibration.
ZeeVee started delivering product in the fall of 08, so they are hardly a household name yet. What they offer is a solution for integrating your computer, not just your files, to a remote TV or even your home theater. The ZeeVee interface offers a simple scroll and click interface with icons for key internet sites where you can watch TV programs such as Hulu.com, CBS, Fox, CNN etc. Like many other networking systems, you can access the media files on your computer. However, ZeeVee goes a step further and does something I have not seen yet. Your entire desktop is now on a TV in another part of your house, so not only can you browse the internet you can open you applications and launch into Word, Photoshop, or whatever. The basic unit is not exactly cheap at $499 though it includes an RF remote & transmitter that sits at your computer. A RF keyboard is on the way to complete the integration (Price-TBA). Currently, it is only PC compatible but the Mac firmware upgrade should be available in late Q1.
If you just need to have your media accessible where ever you go, Seagate's Free Agent Theater might come in handy. Pop in one of their Free Agent portable drives into the slot on top of the Free Agent Theater, then plug the unit into a TV. It has it's own GUI for you to navigate through your media. A huge design misstep (in my opinion) is no HDMI out, only component and composite video. Also, no coax or digital out, only analog (RCA) outputs.
THX is sure not sitting around and living off their existing licenses. Like everyone else they are looking for the next Big Thing. Here at CES, they are touting a new THX technology called Media Director that is meant to simplify home theater set-up and operation. MD turns movies, music and video games into, what THX calls “smart content” that can communicate information about AV settings directly to your home entertainment products. The technology lets consumers tap into and maximize the features and modes of their electronics. More than ever consumers are faced with an overwhelming amount of playback and set up options on their gear and its no wonder they are confused, tending to use the out of the box settings. THX hopes to take a lot of that confusion and frustration out of the process.
Tivo is in beta on an entirely new menu. You can do all the things you could do before but there are several additional features such as streaming content from Netflix and Amazon or search through the vast YouTube library. You can even order pizza from your local Domino's. The new beta version of the graphic user interface is available as a simple firmware upgrade to consumers with TiVo Series 3, Tivo HD, and HD XL components.
Tivoli Audio known for their high-quality desktop radios has added networking, making it possible for them to stream from Internet radio stations around the world. It also allows access to stored media on PCs from any room in the house through a wireless or Ethernet connection. Using the front panel readout, you use the supplied remote to scroll through your media or Internet stations. The basic unit has a single speaker, and a second speaker can be purchased to listen in stereo.