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Reflections on CES 2009

Posted: 21 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CES  3D TVs  polarised glasses  video and imaging 

My own favourite demo at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009 was at the LG Electronics booth, showing two similar-sized 3D TVs based on two different technologies: One was a plasma screen using a shutter-glasses approach. The other was LCD using polarised glasses. Regular readers of this space might recall my preference for the polarised glasses—the same type used in theatrical 3D movies—but this side-by-side comparison really drove the point home.

Shutter glasses, some say, create more strain on the eye-brain system because of the way each eye is shown an alternate image, with both eyes never really receiving images at the same time. Some users have reported headaches. And to add my own two cents, despite the surprising physical comfort of today's shutter glasses—which are amazingly lightweight compared to a few years ago—I felt a vague sense of relief as soon as I switched from the shutter demo to the polarised. I went back and forth a few times to confirm it. There was something slightly disturbing with the shutters that disappeared with polarised. Sony also had a polarised 3D demo that looked excellent, but no actual model numbers or prices for these were announced, they're strictly in demo mode now. Samsung did announce a shipping (but much smaller) 22-inch LCD 3DTV with shutter glasses. (Sadly, I didn't make it into Panasonic's 3D theatre, which required special tickets, but I did see the 150-inch plasma screen at their press conference. It was quite big.)

A Rs.3,952.87 ($79) 3D webcam from Minoru, using the primitive red-blue filter glasses, was a cool toy. Other items of interest to my own eccentric eye were a Panasonic "3MOS" camcorder with a combined 92Mpixel of image sensors (and 70x optical zoom), a game creation program for Xbox that Steve Ballmer showed off called Kodu, and a mind-controlled toy (think alpha and theta waves) from Mattel.

At the chip level, among many exciting new video and imaging product introductions by Marvell, Zii Labs, ADI, Intel, Ambarella, Silicon Image, Zoran, Dibcom, Xceive, IDT, NXP, STMicroelectronics, Fresco, Entropic, and many others, my own favourite was Zoran's incorporation of the previously high-priced "Let It Wave" frame rate conversion technology into mass market chips. We look forward to covering many of these developments in more detail in Video/Imaging DesignLine down the road. Ditto for the other "big story" of the convention—connectivity, including wireless HDMI, LiquidHD, a new MoCA spec, STB home networking building blocks from Macrovision, and other technologies we'll be looking at.

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