Where's Brian?

I raced back from the Las Vegas Convention Center to fire up the computer I'd left in my hotel room to catch the East Coast feed of the Nightly News at 3:30 pm thinking that Brian Williams would be broadcasting live from the CES convention floor. (That's what a press invitation I received last week suggested, or so I thought.) Since Las Vegas is on West Coast time, Williams isn't normally live. But I was smug in knowing that I had a Sony Location-Free TV hooked to my cable box back in New York and broadband on both ends. My line-of-sight to Williams would most certainly be better peering into the screen on my notebook inches from my nose than from the crush on the convention floor.

Sure enough, I entered Channel 704 using the on-screen remote and IR blaster affixed to my cable box thousands of miles away. The local news ended, and there was Brian broadcasting from . . . New Hampshire! It was Primary Eve. What kind of crap was this?

2_image001 I reduced Brian to a window and called up old mail to review the invitation, one of thousands I'd received in the lead up to CES. I guess I should have read it more closely. Williams wasn't coming to Las Vegas at all. It only seemed so. You had to read the small print. I've reproduced it here so you can see for yourself. You tell me: Is this "invitation" misleading or not?

I had been smug. Now, I just feel gullible.

By the way, Nightly News in high definition looked 500 times sharper on the big HDTV screen in my hotel room when it came on a couple of hours later. And, unlike the computer view, I never lost the connection.

Place-shifting devices, a category that didn't exist two years ago, are well represented at the show. Sling Media, maker of the most well known of these products, Slingbox, has an expansive booth at the front of the Sands Convention Center. You can now stream your TV to dozens of Smart Phones and cellphones in addition to computers, and later this year, you'll be able to stream to another TV using a product announced last year called SlingCatcher ($249) that Sling promises will finally ship this spring. Slingbox competitor Monsoon Multimedia, maker of the HAVA family of players, has a smaller booth, and if you want to catch a demo of LocationFree TV, it's like looking for a memory card in the massive Sony booth.

NBC Universal has a large booth at the show, too, the place I should have gone to see the Nightly News at 3:30. But if Brian Williams can be a no-show, so can I.
-Michael Antonoff

JAN. 9 UPDATE: Brian Williams flew into Nevada today to host the Nightly News from CES. Better late than never, Brian. And thanks for reading the blog!