CES: Show Rewind

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Las Vegas — As the jam-packed 2011 Consumer Electronics Show winds down — it was definitely more crowded than last year — some final news and notes:

* All the reporters I talked to were disappointed with Verizon’s Ivan Seidenberg kickoff keynote Thursday — the only bit of news was that the wireless side of the house will be offering the Motorola Xoom tablet and Droid Bionic 4G smartphone… which in fact had been announced the previous evening. The news that would have hands-down been the talk of the show — Verizon getting the iPhone — is set for NYC next week. And the appearance by Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes was pointless; he basically just talked about how TV Everywhere must be simple (see CES: Verizon, Motorola Trot Out iPad Rival).

* Bewkes had spicier things to say later in the day: In an interview with CNBC from the show floor,  he dissed Netflix as “a 200-pound chimp — it’s not an 800-pound gorilla.” Note to Mr. Bewkes: Even chimps can rip your face off.

* I heard that Cisco tried very, very hard to persuade Comcast to be the featured partner for its Videoscape announcement (see CES: Cisco ‘Videoscape’ To Arm Ops In Co-Opting Over-The-Top). Instead, John Chambers & Co. had to settle for Australia’s Telstra — not as impressive, to a U.S. crowd, anyway. Comcast, by the way, is using Pace boxes in its Georgia trial of “Spectrum,” which provides some Web content like YouTube videos, Pandora, Facebook and Twitter (see Pace Powers Comcast’s ‘Xfinity Spectrum’ Net-Enabled TV Trial).

* Motorola’s reaction to Videoscape went something like this: We did that eight months ago with Medios, at the 2010 Cable Show (see Cable Show 2010: Motorola Touts ‘Medios’ Software, VOD Servers). Verizon’s Flex View portable video-on-demand service uses Medios.

* Speaking of FiOS TV, Verizon last fall began deploying Cisco HD set-tops and HD DVRs, with the same hybrid QAM-plus-IP configuration as the telco’s primary Motorola QIP boxes.

* Technicolor, in its invitation-only booth on the floor, was showing the new MediaEncore home media gateway, code-named Indigo. The four-tuner box, which features DOCSIS 3.0 modem and Celeno Communications’ high-performance Wi-Fi solution, is expected to launch in summer 2011. One of the coolest features: It has four swappable hard drive slots on the side, with magnetic covers — meaning a user could upgrade to, say, 1 TB hard drives in about 5 seconds… no screwdriver needed. A follow-on gateway (yet unnamed) targeted for 2012 features a lower profile and a modular network interface design.

* FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, on a panel Friday with fellow commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Atwell Baker, had this deadpan response to a question about what conditions he wanted for the Comcast/NBCU deal: “I would like to see good conditions added, and bad conditions not added…. That’s all I’m saying.”

* Baker on the same panel commented on the FCC’s AllVid concept, which proposes that all pay-TV providers should provide a common way to access video programming as well as link to Web video (see Cable Networks to FCC: AllVid Is AllBad). She said the Internet-connected TV developments on display at CES (check out Samsung’s offerings) seemed to obviate the purpose of AllVid: “When we talk about the AllVid proceeding, I say, ‘How about we take a field trip to Best Buy?’”

* Sweetest product launch at CES: Hershey introduced Reese’s Minis, the smallest unwrapped version of the peanut-butter-and-chocolate confection. Why, you may ask (as I did), was a candy company exhibiting at a technology show? The tongue-in-cheek answer: Reese’s are getting miniaturized just like CE products. Hershey put out a press release with Intel comparing the new Minis to the 2nd Generation Intel Core processor (see CES: Intel Chips Lock Down HD Over-The-Top Video), which packs in 1 billion transistors.

Until next year: adieu, CES!

Check out our full CES 2011 coverage here.

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