Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Microsoft Keynote – a little MediaCenter, a little XBox360 and other Stuff

If you find the title to this post a little awkward, it’s intentional.  It’s very much the way I felt after watching the Microsoft Keynote address at CES via their livestream.  Here’s some quick thoughts on the address:



There was a nearly 15-20 minute long demo of Microsoft MediaCenter – this is of course good since MC has been mostly ignored by Microsoft in these sorts of public addresses lately.  The exciting Ceton quad-CableCard tuner was part of that demo and yes it looked pretty good.  But in my opinion the demo was very awkward and did a pretty poor job of highlighting HTPC’s and more specifically MediaCenter.  No sign of extenders, no peep about Windows Home Server as a MediaCenter server.  Pretty much nothing new beyond the Ceton product.  Perhaps more was planned since Steve Balmer mentioned that he wanted to show us the “big TV with the PC built in” but couldn’t because the power outage “blew the tube.”  I’m glad they spent the time on MediaCenter, but I’m pretty disappointed in how they did it and what they didn’t say.


They did a quick demo of their IPTV MediaRoom product and announced MediaRoom 2.0 is available with AT&T Uverse compatibility.  I’m not a fan of MediaRoom, but that’s coming from a HTPC fan I guess. 

Mediaroom in MediaCenter

In my opinion the nice thing they announced about MediaRoom is that the IPTV MediaRoom content will be accessible from MediaCenter – sort of like a MediaCenter on-demand product without needing a tuner – nice!  View Press Release

Also demoed was he MediaRoom programming working on a mobile phone.

Blio e-Book system

The Blio e-book system was demo’d and looked pretty nice.  It’s basically a free e-Book “system” software that works on windows PCs.  Nothing Kindle-killing, but really pretty cool and the price (free) is right.  Blio is also interesting because it was started by futurist, “Ray Kurzweil.


More on Blio with a hands-on video at Engadget

Blio’s webage

HP Touch Slate

Certainly not the device we had hoped for, but the HP Touch Slate (a table PC) with the Kindle software running on it.  It’s multi-touch and looks pretty nice.  But it’s simply a PC and not the Courier tablet everyone had rumored.

Here’s a very short promo video from HP that shows the slate off:

XBox 360 Support for AT&T UVerse

We learned that AT&T U-Verse subscribers will be able to use their XBox 360’s as a set-top box.  They said this would be available later this year, but nothing on how much it might cost.

XBox 360 Natal

The cool XBox 360 “Project Natal” has been slated for a Holiday 2010 release.



Overall although they did show off some really interesting products, the keynote didn’t go well.  They started with a serious power outage, took a very long time to re-boot everything on the stage back up and then when they started some things noticeably didn’t work.  There was definitely some great stuff being demoed at the keynote, but the presentation was most certainly underwhelming.

Winners from the keynote:  XBox 360, AT&T UVerse, Ceton and HP