Toshiba & HD DVD: If Sony and Blu-ray were big winners then Toshiba and its HD DVD are the obvious losers. To say that the Warner Brothers move was a crushing blow is a massive understatement. Clearly the announcement took the company by complete surprise, timed perfectly to inflict maximum damage on HD DVD. One must only look at the company's reaction to understand how hard it was hit, with executives refusing to field questions at its press conference and PR people disappearing without a trace on the Monday and leaving the HD DVD booth staffed only by hired booth attendants.
Consumers: You didn't think it was all win-win for the consumer, did you? So, Blu-ray has (potentially-ed.) won and the format war has ended, hooray! But, did it deserve to win? Well, to my mind, it didn't and I'm not alone. At this stage at least, HD DVD was/is the superior format. Its discs, particularly those from Warner Brothers, are better featured and cheaper, while unlike Blu-ray the standards for players and interactive features have been set in stone from the day of launch. As a result the players have been largely excellent, proving well featured, easy to use and reasonably priced. Still, if the history of this industry tells us anything it is that the best format doesn't always win - Sony knows this better than most.
Philips: While most other companies were busy talking technology and unleashing ridiculously slim or large TVs, Philips was staking a claim for the inauspicious award of "Worst Press Conference of 2008". It was a bizarre affair, with what is generally a very strong technology company speaking at length on rather woolly design concepts and aspirations. All of which is fine if you're speaking to consumers but this is a trade show attended predominantly by technology journalists who want hear about innovative technology, not the influence of women on consumer electronics purchases. Thankfully, the company does at least continue to make some great products, including the 47in LCD TV we reviewed recently.
Creative: A tad harsh you might say, but hear me out. I like Creative, it makes good products. Its soundcards are still among the best consumer offerings available and it has released some great 2.0 speaker sets of late, but at CES 2008 it disappointed me. Why? Not because what it had on show wasn't good, not at all. No, it was what was missing that irked. Namely, a new hard drive based portable media player. Fine, iPods are great and so on and so forth but many, including myself, don't want to be tied to Apple, don't want to use iTunes and have been looking to Creative to provide an alternative. Unfortunately, nothing was forthcoming and we were told that it had no intention of releasing a successor to its Zen Vision:M, focussing instead on flash based players such as its own Zen. As a business decision it may well make sense, but Creative has surrendered the hard drive player market and disappointed many in the process.