As for High Definition it was in evidence every bit as much as I forecast and then some. Manufacturers scrapped space they would usually reserve for their other product lines just so they could mount another HD compatible screen or hoist an additional ‘HD Ready’ logo. Yet within this an interesting trend is emerging.
Sony was the company which brought my attention to this shift when it chose to completely ignore its impending Blu-ray media and while rival Toshiba made a big song and dance about HD DVD there was far greater focus on next generation displays than the media that will fuel them.
Depending on alliances companies spoke enthusiastically about their respective Blu-ray or HD DVD products but none limited their conversations to either format instead promoting a wide range of content delivery. The reason for this is when a company sells a television it has a much longer shelf life than a typical piece of IT equipment. How many laptops/desktops have you owned during the lifespan of your last goggle box?
Set makers want consumers to being making their television upgrades now and over the next 12 months but they understand the market will be a very different place by the time we come to upgrade again. Technical staff spoke of HD content streaming over broadband connections with vast bandwidth and there was talk of multi-terrabyte hard drive recorders. Many of us have abandoned our CDs in favour of downloadable virtual music collections and the feeling is video is headed the same way.
Consequently, the talk was not of Blu-ray or HD DVD as the formats of the future but merely a physical stop gap before a truly virtual media collection. In all this the common ground is the display itself and the desire to emphasise to punters that it needs to be High Definition (preferably capable of receiving a 1080p input signal) if we are to join this home entertainment revolution.
All of which means I leave CeBIT with considerably more questions than when I arrived. I still don’t think the public is as excited about High Definition as the industry is, so how will they be persuaded to part with their cash? Are mobile phones about to drag people’s computing knowledge into the 21st century or leave them floundering? Will Blu-ray or HD DVD media prevail and as a largely accepted stop gap does it even matter? Why do so many Germans continue to sport mullets? And whatever possessed organisers to stock the press room bar with a brand of non-alcoholic beer? Did ‘Pilock Corp’ (below) do any research into its name at all? And how can I give the Crazy Frog the kick in the balls he so thoroughly deserves if he isn’t suitably equipped? (bottom).
Some of these questions will undoubtedly be answered in the 12 months that now precede CeBIT 2007. Many more – I fear – will not…