Also, see my Herald story about the Mobile WiMAX devices that were on show at CES ahead of Sprint's launch of these types of services in the US.
Finally, an article I wrote for the Weekend Herald about the state of broadband in New Zealand - I've had a huge number of responses to this story and will be doing a follow up based on them in the next week...
by Peter Griffin
A couple of things were glaringly obvious at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month – flat screen TVs are getting bigger and better quality and high-definition content is no passing fad.
But those who buy LCD or plasma screen TVs and high-definition disc players in the next year to enjoy better picture and sound quality are going to come up against one annoying reality – even more cables cluttering your lounge.
Newer flat-screen TVs, home cinema projectors, computers and video game consoles come with HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) connections which ensure the best quality signal is transferred from your player of choice to your TV screen.
The cables are generally thicker than the composite cables that connect most DVD players and Playstation 2 consoles to TVs. If you have several high-definition devices, you may have two or more HDMI cables snaking into the back of your TV. It looks pretty ugly.
But Dutch electronics maker Philips has come up with a way around that. At CES it showed a wireless HDMI system. It consists of two small boxes – one plugs into your DVD player, the other into your high-definition TV. Using ultra wideband frequency, the content is beamed through the air – no cables needed, at a range of up to 25 feet. The other can be tucked in behind your TV set. The best thing about it is that there’s no degradation of the high-definition signal sent wirelessly. Philips says the wireless system is capable of shifting 1080p high-definition video, which is the highest quality level supported by this new wave of flat-screen TV screens.
You don’t have to use a Philips TV to make it work – the wireless system will work with any HDMI-capable devices. As Sky TV takes its new set-top boxes high-definition and HD-DVD and Blu-ray recorders become more widely available, these little rectangular HDMI connectors are going to appear in numbers in your living room – the equivalent of the computer USB slot.
And while there are often slight delays associated with wireless technologies, Philips claims any delay is unnoticeable with its system. Certainly, the demonstration at CES was impressive. Philips wireless HDMI is also compatible with the high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) system many TV makers are supporting to prevent movie piracy. Other companies including Asus and Tzero are also getting into wireless HDMI, which looks to be the new standard for home theatre systems without all the wires. The wireless HDMI devices are likely to go on sale in May for around US$300.
TV IN A FLASH
USB flash drives are so common that companies give them away like promotional pens these days. But it’s amazing how useful they are. You can use them to shift digital files between computers. Some of them even act as music players. Now USB-maker SanDisk is taking it a step further with USB TV. Drag video files on your computer onto the USB TV and then connect it to your TV with a simple dock, letting you play the video back on your TV screen. No DVD player, cables or additional hardware needed.
www.usbtv.org A CHANCE TO SHINE
A CHANCE TO SHINE
If one phone unveiled at CES managed to drag some attention away from Apple’s crowd-magnet, the iPhone, it was LG’s Shine – a pretty new phone that turns into a mirror when it’s in standby mode. It’s a sleek silver device that like the first generation of Motorola RAZR, isn’t the best featured phone around but wins most of its points for looks. There’s a two megapixel camera, Bluetooth and a music player. But watch as that screen clouds to become a mirror. Perfect for retouching your make-up.
THE WEB AT A SNIP
It combines elements of Web 2.0 darlings MySpace, Del.icio.us, Flickr, but you’re unlikely to have heard of Esnips.com, a website that combines social networking with online storage. At Esnips you are given for free, one gigabyte of storage to host digital content you want to share with others. Upload movies, photos, documents, anything you want and make them available to a select few or the general public. You can comment on the media posted, subscribe to new updates via RSS and with 1.2 million Esnip users, come across likeminded web surfers.