Pre CES 2011 - Thinking About the Technology of 2010

As an avid consumer of technology and an analyst in said field, I often find myself on the bleeding edge of the adoption curve (which as a consumer has its ups and downs) and as CES quickly approaches I started to reflect on my interactions with newer technologies over the past year.
3D last year was the hot subject at CES 2010 and despite a relatively lukewarm reception as an early adopter I naturally had to buy one and as a consumer I would say my 3D experience to date has been a mixed bag, as it were. The glasses are not as troublesome as I had previously thought, but at the same time I certainly wouldn’t miss wearing them. Considering we’ll have glasses for the near future, hopefully we’ll see a movement towards universal glasses at CES 2011. What has proven the most difficult so far, however is integrating the TV into my preexisting home theater, which includes a 7.1 channel AVR with HDMI 1.3a support.
Naturally as an analyst I knew HDMI 1.4a was necessary to natively support 3D but at the same time I knew you could implement a 3D pass-through so I thought I would give it a try…no such luck. As far as my Sony PS3 was concerned I didn’t own a 3D TV if I went through the AVR (and no mention of a firmware update from the AVR manufacturer). So in order to support HD audio and 3D my only options were to 1: upgrade my AVR, 2: try and find one of the two Blu-ray players that support dual HDMI out (and 3D ready), or 3: swap cables when I want to watch a 3D movie (by-pass AVR).
I also found my options for content rather limited with only a handful of 3D Blu-ray titles available – not to mention the exclusive titles. The last part in particularly is rather troubling. One of the biggest hurdles to 3D has been limited content and while the exclusive deals might have been lucrative to some parties, it didn’t help nurture a healthier market for 3D overall.
Another big push has been Internet connected devices and OTT content. Yes my TV included an Internet connection (wired/Ethernet out-of-the-box) but as a consumer I haven’t found the experience all that compelling. In total I currently have access to 10 applications – 2 of which are what appear to be news programming clips in German. Others like YouTube are nice but typing in the search words with the alphanumeric keypad is too slow when I have a laptop or mobile phone not too far away. So again, another hope for CES 2011 – better remote controls or input devices (as you can probably guess I didn’t buy a Vizio 3D TV since they include a Bluetooth sliding Qwerty keyboard remote). On a somewhat related note, Microsoft’s Kinect works relatively well as a motion control, for games and navigating the Xbox 360 menus, although ample space is required.
Referring back to OTT content however, the game consoles, be it the Sony PS3 or Xbox 360 Live have offered a more “complete” experience taken together with movies, games, live content, music, and browser. Even better I was afforded the opportunity to trial Plaster Networks powerline adapters to connect my Xbox 360 (since it didn’t come with Wi-Fi built-in…remember I’m an early adopter) and truth be told the set up was painless (simply plug the adapter into the wall and the Ethernet cables) and thus far the experience has been excellent – ESPN 360 on Xbox Live looks great and runs without interruption. As we see more networking options over the coming years if not next year hopefully we can expect similar results – especially if initiatives like IEEE 1905.1,, or hybrid home network solutions come to fruition and foster a more cohesive and seamless multi-technology/medium network . So it will be interesting to see what networking solutions are on hand at CES this year.
For 3D and Internet connected devices though, if content is king, cost is certainly queen so care to things like interoperable glasses or support for legacy installations will continue to be paramount. Hopefully these are some of the things we will see at CES 2011.