Except for the TVs, which are becoming microscopically slim.

Get ready for some technology-infused tweets and Facebook posts from the staff at CEA, from eager bloggers and next-gen journalists, and from giddy CES participants, because this is the show for tech enthusiasts. And since those enthusiasts will be checking into the show floor and their hotels via Foursquare and posting and tagging images of hot new technologies for all of their respective “friends” to see, the CEA plans to keep up with the social networking butterflies online: with its swanky new website launched this summer, which includes a MyCES section and an interactive show floor map; by posting/tweeting updated news, videos and photos; and with its interactive Follow Me app for Mac, Android and BlackBerry devices that offers real-time show alerts.

Active Video's CloudTV Platform

Some of this year’s hot TechZones – areas of the show floor focused around certain “hot” technology concepts – include Broadband Communications; 3-D @ Home; Access on the Go, featuring portable devices, tablets and applications; the iLounge Pavilion, which will showcase third-party accessories for Apple platforms; and Connected Home Appliances, a new TechZone this year giving a nod to smart home networking, whether via IP or Smart Grid.

Tablets, by the way, are set to be displayed by some 80 different manufacturers, according to Tara Dunion, senior director of communications for the CEA and the International CES. Eighty! So expect tablets to be a slightly important technology at the show.

As of late December, some 2,500 exhibitors had signed up for CES 2011 – set for Jan. 6-9 in Vegas – on par with last year, and they’ll be launching something close to 20,000 new products. As for show attendees, there were 126,000 last year, compared with 113,000 in 2009, and Dunion expects this year to match 2010, at least, if not surpass it since a lot of companies have lifted travel bans.

Last year was all 3-D, all the time, and it will still play a role in the 2011 CES show. But also on the radar this year: tabletmania, of course; the cloud, or as Dunion put it, “where it’s all headed” in the industry, and as ActiveVideo’s senior vice president of marketing Edgar Villalpando phrased it, “the one platform that people should be driving to”; and connected home technology, including the ability to have apps on the TV that can communicate with a PC and vice versa.

Speaking of the cloud, ActiveVideo will be at CES demonstrating with large CE manufacturers that will be distributing the company’s CloudTV platform, which is already in use by Cablevision. According to Villalpando, the company’s demo is all about “TV apps that will be the next-generation form of television that everyone’s been asking for.”


Villalpando added: “This show is different from [past CES shows] because we are the first vendor that has a platform that unifies cable and Web TV platforms. That’s the first time that’s happened.”

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance, although associated with connected homes, has its own TechZone pavilion, with several members – including Atheros, Aztech, GigaFast, Gigle Networks, Plaster Networks, Russound and SPiDCOM – hosting displays.

The ZigBee Alliance has its own TechZone, as well. The Alliance gives consumers new ways to control lighting, HVAC, water, appliances and security systems from anywhere.

The Digital Living Network Alliance has a trailer-like booth on the show floor. DLNA has some 8,800 certified products, such as PCs, mobile phones and TVs, from the likes of Samsung, Panasonic and Sony, and it will be demonstrating one big mock-up of a connected house – with a “larger range” than the Connected Home Appliances TechZone, according to Alan Messer, a member of the DLNA’s board of directors and senior director of connected consumer technologies and standardization at Samsung Electronics.

NetGear's D3 GatewayMesser summarized the 2011 CES nicely: It will be bigger, badder (like Michael Jackson bad) and better, and much more Internet-connected.

Sigma Designs is showing off a number of technologies, including new next-gen chipsets in the media processor space; the first studio-grade STB chip, which brings technology used in Hollywood into an everyday STB, Blu-ray device, etc.; an ultimate thin-client STB chip; and a 3-D video and graphics demo, with full 1080p 3-D video and “really killer” 3-D graphics, according to Michael Weissman, Sigma's vice president of corporate marketing. “We also have pretty cool technology demos around home automation, home control and energy management,” he added, “and we’ll have lots of presence in the Z-Wave Alliance booth, too.”

Visitors to Technicolor's CES booth will see advances in content search and discovery, recommendation, premium 3-D video, image quality and security.

Netgear, which has a conference room at the Las Vegas Marriott, will be demonstrating its home security architecture – the vendor is announcing a 7-inch touchscreen (the HSC101) with 802.11n Wi-Fi, based on the Android OS, as well as a camera. Also on tap: the world’s first dual-band gateway, the CG3202/CG3302 D3 gateway. The full-service gateway delivers PacketCable voice, has four Ethernet connections, supports up to 400 Mbps, can handle up to eight downstream bonded channels and four upstream, and offers IPv6 support.

For Trident, this is the first CES show where it can show off its portfolio of combined digital TV and STB technologies from both Trident and NXP. Trident is displaying, at its demo suite in the Alsace Ballroom of the Wynn Hotel, a cinema TV experience, with a 22:9 aspect ratio; 3-D technology; and 2-D to 3-D tech, where an algorithm takes 2-D content on a TV, STB, etc., and converts it to 3-D – Trident has its own algorithm, but it can also support any other algorithms.

As for DarbeeVision, in its Hilton suite the vendor is touting its HDMI-in-and-out Darbee Box, which adds depth cues intraframe and cooperates with any TV and any source feeding the TV. The Darbee Box basically defocuses both the left and right images of 2-D video and subtracts that from the middle, making 2-D content pop (like 3-D). An early version of the technology was applied to the DVD and HBO-like version of the movie “Gosford Park.”

And Cisco, while not exhibiting on the show floor, is conducting customer meetings to showcase service provider video solutions, as well as Cisco consumer products, throughout the week.