2011 CES and Cable Preview

this week and, no big surprise, the superlatives
are swirling. Samsung will unveil
the “world’s thinnest” Blu-Ray player
(23 millimeters); LG, which we all used
to know as Zenith, will take the wraps
off the “world’s largest” LED-backlit LCD
display (72 inches).

For cable people traipsing through the
million or so square feet of exhibit space
this week, the relevant news will likely
swirl around ways to attract consumers
to cable services, on Internet-connected
TVs. Call it a widget, call it an icon — it’ll be the clickable
thing that sits near Netflix’s clickable thing, on video-capable,
Internet-protocol-connected screens.

If this does it for you, be sure to tune in to Samsung CEO
Boo-Keun Yoo’s keynote on Thursday afternoon, which will
likely include some very familiar cable faces.

3DTV is likely to remain near center stage at CES this
year, although without last year’s handy Avatar booster.

Also hot: Game consoles and HD gaming, especially
WebTV founder Steve Perlman’s new “OnLive” service,
which runs “over the Internet” (read: another huge bandwidth
siphon) to connected PCs, Macs and HDTVs.

And tablets, tablets, tablets. Keynoters from Microsoft,
Verizon Communications and Cisco Systems are all expected
to trumpet the tablet as the Big Thing for 2011,
especially now that LTE/4G mobile broadband is poised to
serve up speeds that can handle video.

Recall: At last year’s CES, the closest thing to the tablet
was the e-reader; Apple wouldn’t unveil the iPad until April.

Remember, though: Some CES introductions stick, most
don’t. What stuck: HDTV (2003), thumb drives (2004) and
phones with built-in cameras (2003).

What didn’t stick: Gateway’s push into flat-panel TVs
(2003). Last year’s “Backflip” phone, from Motorola.
Microsoft’s “Ultimate TV” push, back in 2000. AOL TV.
HDTVs outfitted with OCAP (OpenCable Applications
Platform, before the consumer-facing version of it was renamed
to Tru2way).

But CES is also fun for the weird stuff. Composting toilets,
robots that clean, device-charging pads.

Like this year’s “iGrill” wireless cooking thermometer,
new from iDevice (and located in the all-things-Apple section
of the show floor, North Hall). Pop the probe in the grill, walk
away. When it’s time to sear some meat, get a message on
your Apple gadget (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch). Or, walk over to
the grill and check it yourself …

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at www.translationplease.com or multichannel.com/blog.