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CES 2008 Preview: Streaming the Show

As the new year kicks into high gear, tens of thousands of attendees will slog across 1.4 million square feet of exhibit hall space at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008 to be held in Las Vegas starting January 7.

The show will have its cast of characters—products announced to push the envelope of portable media, including streaming, which we will cover over the next week—but with no true breakout products yet announced and the trepidation that so much walking brings to mind, perhaps some of those thousands would be better off watching the show highlights from home.

Thanks to a number of companies who will be streaming content from the show sessions and show floor, you can do just that.

CNET TV is one of the primary news organizations gathering hot product info from the show floor. With bureaus around the world, CNET also has the advantage of using its Asian branch to fill in backstory and create content that’s more detailed than most other coverage. CNET’s approach to highlight delivery is to show brief snippets through its beta 2.0 CNET TV player. The company already has a "CES 2008 Wish List" on its site with appropriate links to "Digg It" if you find the content compelling and want to share it with others.

A smaller streaming company, iStream Planet, is also making portions of the CES 2008 show available. The company, which touts its managed webcasting and PayCast distribution platform, offers turnkey live and on-demand webcasting services "designed to deliver information quickly and cost-effectively to any target audience." As a way of demonstrating this concept, and as a way to generate funds from interest in the CES 2008 show, iStream Planet offers vendors and session speakers a way to capture their content and stream it live to users around the world. The company offers several webcast packages, from 100GB to 1.5TB data transfer per 8 hours. Check out the company’s site during CES for various webcasts from the show.

Robert Scoble, who has spoken at Streaming Media shows in the past, also has a good set of instructions for those attending (and those not attending) what he calls the "big gadget fest of the year." Over at his blog Scoble lays out a few other key locations to look at during the event: Engadget, Gizmodo, and CNET are among several that he mentions. And, as it wouldn’t be complete without a plug for Scoble’s video blogging, he also notes that he’s already begun uploading video content including an interview with Doug Engelbart. Like most bloggers, Scoble doesn’t promise real-time access without a caveat:
"We’ll stream live video from the CES Media Center Express starting Saturday morning at about 10 a.m. (Pacific)," the blog post says, "and all week long will be updated with both live and recorded video (if we can get a cell or wifi connection we’ll stream live video from the show floor)."

For those who just want to hear the keynotes, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which hosts the show, is making the keynotes available for viewing. The pre-show keynote address, at 6:30 p.m. Pacific on Sunday, is Bill Gates; other keynotes throughout the day Monday and Tuesday include Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA; Toshihiro Sakamoto, president, Panasonic AVC Networks Company; Paul Otellini, president and CEO, Intel Corporation; Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast; and Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO, General Motors. The last speech should be particularly interesting, as CEA has been pushing in-vehicle technology as a growth area for consumer products.

I’ll also be on the show floor, checking out the latest innovations in consumer products that allow streaming, progressive download and mobile content delivery. I expect to do at least one podcast from the show floor, followed by a wrapup the following week and then one from the Macworld show—the other side of the consumer electronics universe—the following week.

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