8:55am We're back at the Las Vegas Hilton already, listening to Consumer Electronics Association prez Gary Shapiro warm up the audience again with CES stats. Sir Howard Stringer should be on in a minute. No Howard Stern at CES, sorry, but Opie and Anthony are here. Meanwhile, let's join Gary and give a hand to our government buyers in the audience.
9:05 The chaiman and chief exec of Sony Corporation, Sirrrrr Howard Stringer! Mostly Howard's quotes from here on. He just told a joke about the Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer who died last week. Packer loved gambling in Vegas, he says. During one game, a gambler who felt Packer wasn't respecting him huffed, "You know, I'm worth a hundred million dollars." Packer replied [Croc Dundee accent here], "Toss you for it."
(Howard breaks for a special-effects-laden video that resembles a movie trailer but shows people around the world being captivated by supersize digital entertainment playing everywhere.)
9:15 Howard is going to describe a four-part digital media future.
1) e-Entertainment. Anywhere you want it. Cut to a demo of the W810, Sony's fifth Walkman Phone announced yesterday. You prolly know the specs: 2.0 megapixel camera, EDGE, plays Franz Ferdinand in stereo. Cyber-shot T9 camera. HDR-HC1 high-def camcorder.
Whoops, they jumped too early to a slide of the Sony Reader.
Howard: "Introducing the Sony Reader. Thousands of titles will be available. Downloading will be as easy as a digital song. You can turn over a page, adjust the size up or down ... four different sizes . You can store hundreds of titles using a Memory Stick and use the extra space in your bag for more Sony products (laughter).
Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, comes out to talk about e-books.
Dan. "In 1997, my first novel, Digital Fortress, appeared on the first e-book bestseller list. It was the number one selling e-book on the planet with about 12 copies.
"E-books offer me features that traditional books do not. If I'm on a trip for research, I can bring an enormous number of books with me. If I want a new book, I can download it even if it's two o'clock in the morning and no book stores are open.
"Soon students will be able to carry all their books ... no more 50 pound backpack ... more important, the books will always be up to date.
"E-books will be great for authors, especially lesser known authors. Companies will be able to take risks on lesser-known authors. There will be more books in print, and more choices.
"For the new generation, e-books will be as natural to them as television is to us. E-books are here. I believe they are her to stay. Welcome to the wonderful world of choice."
9:25 Stringer back onstage. "I forgot to mention that the reader is backlit, so there's no flicker."
He's talking up the PSP now, and new LocationFree. "You can watch American television from a hotel room in London -- why would you want to?" (many laughs)
LocationFree demo of watching New York local TV channels from PSP onstage in Vegas.
2) Digital Cinema. "Sony ... offers four times the resolution of most projectors available. Genesis (HDW-F900 camera) gives filmmakers the look and feel of film that they're used to." Sony 4K SXRD camera for filmmakers.
Video of Adam Sandler talking about fiming _Click_ in digital.
9:32_Da Vinci Code_ producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard come onstage to talk about Sony cinema tech.
Ron Howard: "The stakes are pretty high, but at this point we couldn't be more proud of the movie and the way it's shaping up."
They're pimping the movie. Yadda yadda. Ron H: "People have been inspired by Dan Brown's novel to learn more about the subject." Grazer: "Sony has been committed to bringing the best version of this movie to theaters."
Clip of unseen Da Vinci footage with Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon.
Stringer: "If you thought that clip was tantalizing, it was projected with the new system. Tom Hanks seemed larger than life. But here he is, larger than life, Tom Hanks."
Hanks walks on and gets huge laughs by pretending to squint at the teleprompter: "Thank you, Howard. It's a great honor (SQUINTS) to be here today (SQUINTS) to deliver (SQUINTS) these heartfelt comments about Sony's new SXRD High-Definition Television."
Stringer says something about the intellectual movie.
Hanks (FEIGNS BAD TIMING, SQUINTS) "You know Howard, it doesn't take an intellectual to figure out the interface on the... yadda yadda ... over 80 percent of Sony products!"
Stringer says something else. Hanks squints again : "... that are easily affordable for almost every home!" (this is best part of show so far)
Glazer: "There are five or six movies every year that are a social experience ... I only want to see them by driving to a theater."
Ron Howard: "Nothing's going to replace the shared social experience of going to a theater."
They talk about embracing the new technological opportunities.
Hanks: "I'll do podcasts."
Stringer: "I think you just did."
3) High(er) Definition
Stringer: "In 2006 sales of high-definition television sets will eclipse standard sets. It will put the shift from black and white to color to shame. I know people who would rather watch grass grow in HD than watch a football game in standard definition."
"I'm pleased to announce the today that Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune will be the first game shows available in HD this fall. It doesn't mean the prizes will be any bigger."
(montage of HD TV shows, including Letterman asking Shafer, "I wonder if high definition will help the jokes." )
Greg Gumbel (CBS sportscaster) comes onstage to talk about it.
"With HD you're able to view the entire field of play, instead of the director's cut. When I'm in the booth I can't see the expressions on the players' faces, which HD viewers at home are able to see. When you watch golf you can actually see the texture of the green. Putts that look relatively easy in standard definition acquire a whole new level of complexity in HD. When the ball stops a few inches short of the hole, you know why."
Stringer: "You missed."
Gumbel (sarcastically): "Can I thank you for the positioning today? It's great to follow Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. Now, people are wondering (gestures to himself), 'who the hell is *this* guy?'"
Stringer; "Yeah, but you have a contract."
Stinger says CBS stations will begin doing news with Sony HD cameras early this year. Shows 40" Bravia flat panel. (Check out the H264 ad at www.bravia-advert.com for which a crew dropped 250,000 superballs down the hills in our cozy San Francisco neighborhood.)
Stringer is explaining the benefits of "BD" aka Blu-ray Disc.
Michael Dell comes onstage to talk about what BD means for the IT industry.
Dell: "Our customers told us they wanted a new standard that would last at least a decade ....
"We're going to be showing a new display later today that shows 1600 vertical lines of resolution. "
Stringer explains the difference between Sony and Dell's PC lines: "If you want a really expensive laptop, buy a Vaio."
9:20 Kaz Hirai (prez Sony America) comes out and does LOONNNNG boilerplate clearly designed to give us time to clear the memory stick on our camera for ... yes, a Playstation 3 demo trailer! Our photos come nowhere near doing it justice.
Stringer gives a short EFF-compatible posiitioning speech on marriage of consumer and producer cultures. "Sometimes we misunderstand each other, but after all isn't that the definition of marriage?"
That's it! On the way out Sony cranks Audioslave to remind us they own Tom Morello, too.