This week Senior Editor Tekla S. Perry blogs from the
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Here's her latest report.
Tekla S. Perry
For decades, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Emmy Awards have not just honored television shows and the people who create them, but also the technology that makes those shows possible. And for the first time, Emmys went to technologies involving the Internet. Of some two dozen technology and engineering Emmys awarded here in Las Vegas, I counted 10 related to the Internet.
For me, the highlight had to be the award for the Slingbox, from Sling Media, in the category of "non-traditional programs or platforms." The Slingbox is a US $200 (base price) product that connects your home television system to the Internet, so that whatever you can now watch in your living room will be available to you wherever you have an Internet connection. That is, you can watch local news and sports, or access movies stored on your Tivo, from your laptop in a hotel room on the other side of the world. It's my favorite award not because I own a Slingbox (I don't have a Tivo, and I'm not that into local news), but because today at the Consumer Electronics Show it seemed that every time I turned down an aisle I saw yet another product with functions similar to the Slingbox. The question "So tell me how this is different from a Slingbox?" has turned out to be my number-one CES conversation-starter. Slingbox has definitely had an impact, and that impact is what made it an Emmy winner.
A more obvious technology for CES to honor was streaming media, but exactly whom to credit for this entertainment-changing technology was less obvious. The Academy gave four Emmys for streaming media architecture and components—to Adobe Systems, Apple, Microsoft Corp., and RealNetworks.
I'll confess that, in the category of on-demand Internet technology, I was rooting for nominee Disney-ABC and that company's full-episode streaming media player. This very intuitive, smoothly working way of watching television episodes over the Internet has changed the way I watch my favorite shows. Instead of recording them for viewing in the living room, I watch them in bed on my laptop. However, the winner in this category was stimTV, a small startup I knew nothing about that launched its product just a few months ago. Given that it beat out heavy hitters AOL, Turner Broadcasting, and Starz Entertainment, along with ABC, I figured it had to be good. I took a quick look as soon as I got back to my hotel room after the Emmy presentation. I was impressed. stimTV scans through short video clips with little buffering time and lets you mark videos you're interested in to look at later. And it seemed to work well even with my hotel's spotty Internet connection.