CeBIT 2006: Americans in Hannover

Another company in the large-panel display market, Philips, which partially owns LG, has a bit of streaming up its sleeve. The company’s 2005 42-inch LCD displays are perhaps better known for such retro features as AmbiLight, which provides a "mood glow" on the left and right sides of the plasma, but these displays were some of the first to boast integrated playback of DiVX and MPEG-2 content. directly from the SD, CompactFlash, and other slots integrated into the unit. Another feature that caught attention from fewer analysts and end users, though, was the integrated Ethernet connection, which allowed content to be streamed from another machine on the network to the display, essentially tying the Philips monitor into a home network. Philips plans to release a 2006 model that will include enhanced features for both image quality and streaming media.

Seeing Red
Another product of interest was shown in Hall 4, a hall primarily reserved for scanners, copiers, printers, and storage media. This product, which probably would have fit better in the halls alongside Microsoft and other entertainment offerings, is known as Versatile Multilayer Disc (VMD) technology. New Medium Enterprises, a London-based firm that is working with Beijing’s E-World Technology, was displaying 1920x1080 HD content on a red-laser pre-recorded disc. The technology, which has the backing of the Chinese government, is offered as an alternative to Blu-ray and HD DVD, the two competing blue-laser disc technologies. As with Blu-ray and HD DVD, VMD offers H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 encoding and decoding. Advocates claim that the technology can stack up to 10 layers on a red-laser disc, meaning that 40GB of storage on a single disc is possible, while allowing devices to be backwards compatible to existing DVD, VCD, SVCD, and CD technologies. While copy protection is touted as a feature of VMD, since dedicated VMD replication lines are required, New Media Enterprises is also touting a yet-undisclosed way that VMD can adapt to blue laser technology in the future. Backed by an LSI Logic chipset for HD encoding and decoding, the video quality shown in the booth was quite good, with scenes of varying motion and compression complexity responding with no perceptible quality loss.

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