CES Day One

Oh what a day. It’s just after midnight and I am beat. I will say that
the great deal I thought I was getting on the Mandalay Bay may not have
been so great. I could not have picked a hotel further from the Las
Vegas Convention Center (where CES is being held) on the strip. I must
have walked 10 miles all in today. Getting around is very very tough.
Taxi lines are too long to wait in. In order to get to the Convention
Center via monorail I have to take two different monorails and walk
through a bunch of casinos. The lines coming back for the monorails are
pretty bad. Etc. etc. Lots of waiting and lots of walking.

So I spent most of my afternoon today at the Microsoft booth. I got to
talk to Matt Goyer a bit about some of the recent Microsoft
announcements. Matt seemed very optimistic that we would in fact see
HDTV via DirecTV for the Media Center sometime next year with Vista.

This is the most exciting thing I’ve heard come out of CES yet. I was
super excited when I heard that we would finally be getting premium HDTV
with Media Center a few monts back but I’m even more excited about the
possibility of things with DirecTV. DirecTV has recently launched a
bunch of satellites
and promises to bring much more HD content in the
future. I really think that DirecTV will be positioned to be the king
of HD content delivery next year and to see that they are now working
with Microsoft
and that we will see an HDTV DirecTV combo for Media
Center is huge.

I am not as optimistic though about the control that you are going to
have with your content going forward. One Microsoft rep that I spoke
with today told me that in terms of what you will be able to do with the
content in Media Center that this is going to be left up to the content
providers. He told me that in fact even in MCE 2005 that some
broadcasts were already being copy restricted and that you could not
even make a single PRV copy on Media Center. I think he is wrong on
this fact as I’ve never seen anything in MCE 2005 that I couldn’t record
or even that I couldn’t copy over to my laptop. I hope he’s wrong. I
do think though that the scenario that we will probably see in Vista is
that we will be able to record anything once on a single machine
(similar to what you can do with a closed box DirecTV HDTV TiVo right
now), but that the content will not be able to be moved to a second
machine including unfortunately your laptop. I do think that you will
be able to move it to “approved” portable devices, meaning devices that
things can’t be copied off of. Nobody that I talked to at Microsoft
seemed to have a real firm grasp of how the content will be handled in
the new HDTV world.

Also, I was not very impressed with the quality of the HDTV that
Microsoft was demoing using a new Dell HDTV tuner that is coming out for
Vista. It really did not look good at all and even the Microsoft rep
commented on how poor the picture quality was. I’m sure that this was
probably due to the fact that the software is still in beta but I was
hoping to see something really crystal clear like I see on my HDTV TiVo
and I did not see that today.

In terms of my large media library issues I still have concerns there as
well, although Matt did tell me today that Microsoft had actually tested
the new Vista Media Center with a million songs in it and that it could
still perform. What I saw today was slow load times still for music
libraries. The Vista software was very buggy too of course, but that
should be expected as it is in beta. I’m sure more will come out on
this in the future and we will see more definitively on how Vista is
going to handle large digital libraries.

I also spent some time playing around with the new photos features in
Vista and really like them. I particulary like the fact that you can
advance forward and back in full frame view from within the photo app
and that basic editing functionality including cropping, contrast,
saturation, etc. are all included. It’s certainly not something to
replace Photoshop but for on the fly stuff it will be useful. It kind
of reminded me of Picasa a little bit. I did convey to the Microsoft
rep who showed me the photo stuff that it would be cool if they could
make sure and work with Flickr to have Flickr automatically tag your
photos when you tag them in Vista already. She thought that since all
tagging in Vista is is an easy way to edit the EXIF data that this might
work. I would think the owness would be on Flickr on this one to ensure
that they mapped the EXIF data that Microsoft is now going to let you
edit through Vista to the tag fields in Flickr. Shouldn’t be too
difficult but it would be good for Flickr to look at this now.

I do need to still spend some more time over at the Microsoft station
tomorrow and try to get more time with their Windows Media Player
expert. Matt wasn’t sure if you could get just WMP11 in beta without
Vista or not but I’d love to be able to test WMP11 alone out some more.

Media Center Pictures

Overall Vista Media Center looks amazing. The design work is especially
strong and aesthetically it is super pleasing. It was real buggy still
because it’s beta of course but it looks really slick. I particularly
liked the fact that in My Pictures in Media Center you can now sort and
show by date. I think this will be super helpful.

I also spent some time with the MTV guy looking at Overdrive and talking
about the new things they are doing with Comedy Central in Online
Spotlight and their services are starting to grow on me a bit more. I
particularly liked how extensive a library they are going to give you to
watch. 15 to 30 second commercials are going to be inserted between
every two videos that you choose to watch (and you can even build video
playlists). The archive was really extensive and they will have a
similar archive from Comedy Central of commedians. This is video on
demand here and now today and that is cool. It’s a great way for them
to monetize a bunch of old content (yes even inluding AHA videos from
the 80s) and it’s a fairly extensive library for us to choose from. I
asked the MTV rep about the possibility of high def content from Comedy
Central or MTV and he was not optimistic. He told me that MTV has only
recently even begun filming in HDTV and that the content providers will
not let them allow us the ability to download the high def stuff but
only stream it. He felt that streaming it was still too bandwidth
intensive. Hopefully this changes soon.

More HDTV Mania

Speaking of high def. CES 2006 is ALL about high def. Everywhere you
go you are bombarded with it. More than any other thing at the
convention high def is being pushed big time. My favorite high def TV
set so far? The Sharp Aqu
os LC-65D90U 65 inch LC-TV
. The set claims to
be the world’s largest available LC-TV with 1920×1080 full spec 1080p
HDTV resolution and comes digital CableCARD ready. This folks, is a
beauty. A stunning picture better than any other I’ve yet to see at CES
yet.

The Killers (8)

Well after taking in a bit of CES today at the show I was able to spend
the evening at the Microsoft / MTV party thanks to the help of Matt.
And what a party it was. The Killers performed along with a cabaret
show by the Pussycat Dolls. I was able to get some great photos of the
shows and have hosted them up where I’ll be hosting all my CES photos at
Flickr. Here is the Flickrstream specifically for the Killers and the one for the Pussycat Dolls. I’ve got a set of general CES shots here.

Pussycat Dolls (54)

I thought that it was really cool that they let me bring my camera into
the party and want to say thanks to Matt and Microsoft for extending the
hospitality.

Tomorrow should be another big day. I’m hoping to drop by the TiVo
booth and check out that new TiVo Series 3 standalone unit. (Whose going to get their unit out first Microsoft of TiVo, the race is on!) I plan also
to check out the high end photography gear that Canon is showing, stop
by DirecTV, visit with Yahoo! and check out many other cool things I can
find. I’ll post more on what I find as I find it. I’m also having
lunch tomorrow with Ian Dixon from the Media Center Show and Microsoft’s
Sean Alexander and Matt Goyer. Ian has also put together a party with
Orb in the early evening at the Hilton that I’m going to go to. I’ll
have more on Orb later.

Oh one other thing that sucks about the Mandalay Bay is its internet
service. It’s really lousy. It barely works it made me pay twice and I
hate the fact that you have to pay at all. I’d much rather have it
built into the cost of my hotel room than get gouged $12 a day for
something that performs worse than dial up. Oh well. They do have
wi-fi at the press center at CES so hopefully I’ll have a better
experience working from there. A long post and if you’re still reading
thanks for hanging in there. It’s 3:14 a.m. now and I’m going to bed.

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12 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    “He told me that in fact even in MCE 2005 that some broadcasts were already being copy restricted and that you could not even make a single PRV copy on Media Center. I think he is wrong on this fact as I’ve never seen anything in MCE 2005 that I couldn’t record or even that I couldn’t copy over to my laptop. I hope he’s wrong.”

    I’ve noticed that some programmes I record from (UK) TV are marked as copy protected – in the MCE info screen for the programme, it just says “Copy Protected” on a single line in amongst the other info.

    However, I’ve not found a single one of these that I can’t just copy to my desktop PC and play on it, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

  2. Media Player says:

    Video On Demand programming is CGMS-A protected so that it can’t be recorded at all. It’s on demand, you don’t need to record it.

    It’s important to remember that unless the cable/sat companies plan on making their own DVR/PVRs exempt from the copy protection technologies (ie, not respecting the rights of the actually content owners) then there DVR/PVRs will have the exact same recording restrictions as are in Media Center.

    In addition, there is a bug in Update Rollup 2 where a show will appear to show “Copy Protected” while recording. After the show has aired, and the recording is finished, the tag will disappear (the show is not really copy protected)

  3. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Thomas,

    Excellent photos as always, are those on the new camera? brilliant! I think a lot of the directv support really is dependent on the rollout of the mpeg4 sats. If your in an area where it will not be available until 2007, I can’t see you being able to use it earlier without channel loss. However I’m in the nyc area and we tend to get our stuff pretty quick so I’m all excited.

    I am also not surprised on the lack of quality of the viewing. If you were to compare antenna vs directv vs cable. It appears cable is reencoding just about everything hdtv, especially local channels. Antenna and directv are pretty much the same quality from what I’ve experienced. Just another reason I hated the cablecard news and LOVE the directv news. And now with fios in my house and the iptv flowing, its a GREAT time to be alive, definately the merge of IP networks and ondemand needs of todays social requirements.

    I’m rather upset that I’m stuck here at work. I’m seriously considernig grabbing a plane and just getting to ces for the last day. Digital Life I was stuck at works booth and never got a chance to harrass microsoft people 🙂

  4. Bryan "Accident" Socha says:

    Thomas,

    Excellent photos as always, are those on the new camera? brilliant! I think a lot of the directv support really is dependent on the rollout of the mpeg4 sats. If your in an area where it will not be available until 2007, I can’t see you being able to use it earlier without channel loss. However I’m in the nyc area and we tend to get our stuff pretty quick so I’m all excited.

    I am also not surprised on the lack of quality of the viewing. If you were to compare antenna vs directv vs cable. It appears cable is reencoding just about everything hdtv, especially local channels. Antenna and directv are pretty much the same quality from what I’ve experienced. Just another reason I hated the cablecard news and LOVE the directv news. And now with fios in my house and the iptv flowing, its a GREAT time to be alive, definately the merge of IP networks and ondemand needs of todays social requirements.

    I’m rather upset that I’m stuck here at work. I’m seriously considernig grabbing a plane and just getting to ces for the last day. Digital Life I was stuck at works booth and never got a chance to harrass microsoft people 🙂

  5. Hermia says:

    Just wanted to thank you for The Killers pics. Those of us over on The Killers Network just about love you right now. 😉

  6. Peter Dampier (MSFT) says:

    Thomas – What is your opinion on the “Date” view in MCE Vista sorting on Date Modified versus Date Taken? To me the view isn’t useful for photos unless sorted by take taken. With Date Modified I end up with every photo appearing/sorted as the same date when I last bulk copied photos over/edited which isn’t that useful…

  7. Thomas Hawk says:

    Pete, I agree date taken is much better than date modified. This is a problem and I’m not sure quite how sure it needs to be solved. Microsoft is pulling the date taken info directly from the EXIF data. Flickr does the same thing and a bunch of the dates on my photos are messed up on Flickr. I suppose an individual user could manually change the date taken on the photos where instead it gives date modified but this would not be easy.

    Personally I think the camera manufacturers ought to allow a setting on your camera that says lock this date into the EXIF data in stone on this photo and carry it with it whenever it’s modified, changed through Photoshop, etc.

    I’m not quite sure exactly how best to solve this but it is a problem.

  8. ShadyMG says:

    Thomas, great post buddy! Forget everything else, those pussycat doll fotos were priceless 🙂

    and i know everyone else was thinking the same thing! 🙂

  9. Peter Dampier (MSFT) says:

    I don’t see the EXIF ‘Date Taken’ date change after editing/copying etc – Only the Windows file system ‘Date Modified’ etc changes. Problem seems to be MCE Vista keys off the Windows file system ‘Date Modified’ and not the EXIF data on ‘Date Taken’. My problem is due to batch editing/moving of files my Windows file system ‘Date Created’ and ‘Date Modified’ are often the same for thousands of photos and hence the MCE Vista ‘View by Date’ is meaningless since it isn’t keyed off the EXIF ‘Date Taken’ field. Incidently this seems to be different to the 2′ Vista Photo galary that does key off EXIF ‘Date Taken’…. If there is no EXIF ‘Date Taken’ data then it would seem logical to take ‘Date Modified’ or ‘Date Created’ but not otherwise…

    If EXIF ‘Date Taken’ is modified by Photoshop or other apps then that would appear to be a bug in the app doing the changes?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Onus.

  11. Philip says:

    Thanks for the info. One thing that I’m very curious about is the increasing numbers of people buying and watching HD as well as the increasing amount of video content that is available for download. Rocketboom on you HD TV! How do these go together?

  12. cleck673 says:

    Man, I am so jealous of these pics you snagged at the MTV/MS Party. My pics came out horrible.