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The Gizmo Guy's Year End Roundup Items – Part 3: Consumer Electronics and Hollywood

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By Gordon Meyer
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This time of year, while others may be winding down for a much deserved break, I’m putting in long hours prepping for the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Ever since the introduction of the VCR back in the late 1970s, the consumer electronics industry has been an important part of the entertainment industry and vice versa.  To a large degree, this is because so much Hollywood product ends up in people’s homes in the form of discs and downloads.  The synergistic importance of Hollywood and Silicon Valley has grown to the point that for the third year in a row, Variety is hosting its Entertainment Matters Summit at CES next week.

Of course part of the goal of top CE manufacturers has long been to provide a theatrical quality experience in the home.  Truthfully, this will never happen because there’s something inherently different about seeing a movie on a 50 foot wide screen in an actual theatre, surrounded by several hundred fellow fans.   But the kind of multichannel sound that was once the exclusive purview of theatres is now a common feature in the living rooms of the world, as is the wide image of a movie versus the previously normal 1.33:1 aspect ratio of a TV.

You never know what you’re going to see at CES.  But the press releases my mailbox has been flooded with gives me a pretty good idea of what at least some of what I have to look forward to, beginning with the newest generation of flat screen displays.  Highlights here include the latest generation of newly dubbed Ultra High Def standard, which will increase the pixel count by either 4x or 8x, the latter using a home version of the 4K technology that’s become increasingly popular in theatres. As posted earlier, there is a chicken and egg conundrum with 4K displays due to the dearth of native 4K content, combined with the fact that, at a certain point, most people will never be able to see enough of a tangible improvement in resolution to justify the premium costs involved.

I expect to see newer generations of autostereoscopic TVs, enabling viewers to watch 3D programming without the use of glasses.  CES has hosted prototypes of glasses-free 3D displays for a good ten years and they’ve yet to be ready for prime time.  But they do keep getting better.  Will 2013 be the year that autostereoscopic displays finally be good enough to be viable in the home market?  I’ll let you know when I get back from Vegas.

For me, CES is not just about cool home entertainment technologies.  It’s increasingly become a place to find new tools for professionals in all aspects of the business.  In some cases, we’re talking about the kinds of tools just about every business needs, like printers, scanners and other office gear.  With the exponential improvement in quality, it’s also about presumably consumer products like cameras and personal computers are being used as professional production and post production tools.

Three years ago, shortly after launching this blog, I built a computer from scratch, optimized for editing HD video and authoring/burning Blu-ray discs.  The way technology continues to advance, one of the things that’s on my To Do list for CES 2013 is to upgrade that system so that it’s even more effective as a tool for editing, including editing 3D content.  I’ll also be looking at products that will be increasingly used by consumers to play back the content P3 Update readers produce.  And along the way, I suspect I’ll find time to play just a little.

And on that note, Happy New Year one and all.  My New Year’s wish for P3 Update readers as part of my final blog entry for the year is for a 2013 filled with innovation, exciting and challenging projects to work on, and lots of well paid gigs. To quote a friend’s oft-used toast, “May the best day of your life so far be the worst day you experience from now on.”

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Guest Wednesday, 01 July 2015