The opening keynote of the show proper was from Sir Howard Stringer, the British CEO of Sony Corporation worldwide. Referring to Sonyâ€™s recent troubles with DRM on some of its CDs, Sir Howard revealed an honest approach and a delightfully dry sense of humour that made a refreshing change from the norm for tech CEOâ€™s.
With Blu-ray and HD-DVD both launching at CES this year the battle for the next generation optical format has turned from cold to hot. Blu-ray has a lead on HD-DVD with a much greater range of support across industries and to help make Sonyâ€™s case for Blu-ray, Sir Howard introduced Dellâ€™s Michael Dell to the stage.
Michael stated that Dell was introducing Blu-ray on its machines as its customers wanted larger removable storage capacity and with the size of hard disks growing ever larger, DVD just doesnâ€™t cut it anymore. With 50GB compared to 30GB on a dual-layer HD-DVD, BD discs do have the upper hand here.
As will as Dell machines, Sir Howard said that Vaio desktops would ship with Blu-ray recorders in early summer. Initial consumer decks will be player only, and as is well known, the PlayStation 3 will also read Blu-ray discs.
In terms of packaged media Sony was showing some of the titles it will have available at its stand. Looks like Iâ€™ll be buying, â€˜The Fifth Elementâ€™ again then.
Another technology that Sir Howard was clearly proud of was Sonyâ€™s new eReader, boldly claiming that it was the biggest leap for the written word since the introduction of printing. The eReader is an iPod for books, and enables users to carry hundreds of books with them in one unit and hundreds of titles will soon be available for download from Sonyâ€™s Connect store. It's E-Ink technolgy doesnâ€™t require a backlight so itâ€™s easy on the easy on the eyes, and you can easily switch between four font sizes.
To talk about the eReader, Sir Howard introduced to the stage, Dan Brown, the author of the worldwide bestseller â€˜The Da Vinci Codeâ€™. Brown said that he was a big fan of digital books and that his early novel, â€˜Digital Fortressâ€™ was at one stage the best selling eBook on the planet - having sold about 12 copies. However, now that technology such as the new e-reader is here, he believes that the popularity of eBooks will sky rocket. (N.B. - donâ€™t buy Digital Fortress. Itâ€™s awful).
At the show, Sony emphasised that it was the only company to promote High Definition at all stages of the pipeline, with technology to support HD content creation for both professionals and consumers, distribution through its studios and packaged media, to source players and displays for both home and cinemas.