We're getting ourselves situated here for Panasonic's CES keynote, which we're expecting to include an unveiling of Panasonic's 150-inch plasma TV. We're in the same ballroom that hosted last night's Gates extravaganza, but it's cut down to half the size for this morning's event -- all the same, we don't expect to be disappointed. Stand by for the proceedings to begin at 8:30AM PST (11:30 EST).
8:21AM - Panasonic AVC President Toshihiro Sakamoto will be joined on stage by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the CEA, who kicked things off last night.
8:32AM - "The show will begin in five minutes." Apparently when you've got a 150-incher in the wings, there's no need to be punctual.
8:36AM - And here we go. Oh, it's just the video intro from last night. Strong start, folks. As a side note, it turns out we're sitting behind some sort of ambassador. Sadly, she's not liveblogging.
8:39AM - Here's Gary Shapiro. He's pretty intense, plugging the number of exhibitors and particular partners (hey NBC). "In 2007 technology exploded as never before as the free market drove adoption..." Video downloads took up where MP3 downloads left off "Just look at YouTube."
8:42AM - "Our industry's growth remains strong, and the trend will continue in 2008." Despite economic concerns, they expect the industry to grow to $171 billion next year.
8:44AM - Gary's plugging free trade to continue the momentum. "After decades of bipartisan support for free trade, we're hearing rumors of price protections and isolationism... technology has become the shining star of this economy, other countries bought $220 billion in American made electronics."
8:46AM - We're getting a history lesson in international trade -- took a bit of an odd turn there.
8:48AM - "Today the US economy is more US and more international than at any point in history." Qualcomm and Intel were founded by immigrants, Gary Shapiro's wife came here from Poland is now a surgeon for the blind.
8:50AM - There are challenges. Threats of identity theft, piracy, but technology offers many benefits, connecting the world. "Technologies offers something else: they are blind to religion, blind to sexual orientation, blind to disabilities."
8:51AM - "Sending a formal request to congress to approve continued free trade agreements." Urges congress to approve pending free trade agreements, and to give power back to the president to negotiate trade agreements.
8:53AM - "Free trade doesn't mean child labor." This year's CES is the most carbon neutral CES yet. Ambassador Susan C. Schwab (who is sitting right in front of us) will be speaking tomorrow on trade.
8:55AM - "This is an important dialog for our industry." "Free trade establishes relationships, builds trust, and helps us build bridges with our neighbors."
8:57AM - Welcoming international guests, and encouraging us domestics to get involved with promoting free trade. There's a CEA political action group to chip in on. "These few days of CES, take a moment to reflect the value of free trade. Given the climate of today, it is not a given."
8:59AM - Speaking of international innovation, here comes Panasonic. We're starting with a video. It's about the historical value of the hearth. Yeah, we're kind of wondering where this one is going. "The hearth has become the symbol of home." "This is our mission... to bring people back together, to the digital hearth." "High definition, to bring back high-quality family time."
9:02AM - "Please welcome Toshihiro Sakamoto."
9:03AM - "Good morning. Four years ago, our president at that time told us a vision, and we're very happy to say that that vision has come to past and available in stores for very affordable prices." HDTVs, digital cameras, HD-PLC, 32GB SDHC, 4GB microSD.
9:05AM - Now for my predictions for the next four years. Talking about the digital hearth bringing the family together. Distributing complete HD kits to consumers to learn how to "improve the consumer experience." "Living in High Definition."
9:07AM - Showing a video of families receiving all their Panny HD gear and having a good time with it. "From this day forward it's a brand new day for us, and we wanted to everybody to know that." It's over, we were moved.
9:09AM - "As you can see, in addition to having a lot of fun, our products encourage creativity." Now Michelle and Carlton to talk about their awesome creative lives in HD. Oddly, they lives mainly revolve around watching flat panel TVs. The 103-incher has apparently been a huge success, moving 3000 units so far.
9:12AM - Sakamoto is back to talk about being environmentally friendly. Panasonic was the first manufacturer to eliminate lead in plasmas, and will continue to eliminate harmful materials. Energy efficient products will drop from 13% to 0%, and promises to reduce carbon emissions by 300,000 tons.
9:14AM - Now for the good stuff, the advancement of plasma tech. New plasma tech to double luminance efficiency, therefore requiring half the power consumption. "That's not our only priority, we know consumers want thinner and lighter plasma TVs."
9:16AM - Introducing next-gen prototype plasma less than 1-inch thick. 24.7mm at its thickest part. Less than half the weigh of current models.
9:17AM - Now we have another "huge surprise" for plasma TVs. Panasonic is building a new plant, their most advanced and most efficient. And it will produce... "Today we are proud to introduce the world's largest flat panel TV, ladies and gentleman, our 150-inch plasma." Much applause. "This allows you to show the elephant in the room."
9:20AM - Calling it the "Life Panel" display. Resolution at 4 x 1080p, 4k by 2k.
9:23AM - Michelle and Carlton are back, talking about the Olympics, and trying to tie it all back to consumers -- but we're still thinking about that 150-incher.
9:24AM - Back to Sakamoto, announcing "HomeBase," with wireless HD. Shows Rocky streaming from a Blu-ray player, Carlton holds up the cables and Sakamoto snips with some hedge trimmers. Video keeps going, naturally. Uses "Beam Steering Technology," which is only disrupted by placing your hand directly on the antenna. Michelle has been shooting video, they slap the camera on top of home base and it automatically starts transmitting to the HDTV. They show a video of the cable clipping that just occurred. Applause.
9:27AM - Wireless HD will be available next year.
9:29AM - Carlton introduces Pansonic's Kid Witness News effort. An uber-cute news caster walks up to Comcast's Brian Roberts and introduces him to the room. Did we mention this was really cute?
Roberts is on stage, announcing "true two-way" for interactive TV. On demand HD. Espousing the benefits of an open cable architecture. Panasonic will be building "true two-way" TVs, available later this year. The cable box is built into the TV itself.
9:34AM - Comcast and Panasonic have another one in the works. "This looks like a set top box, but it's really something very different." It acts as a DVR, but has a removable portable component, similar to a portable DVD player, and it also holds a DVD player. Naming it AnyPlay.
9:36AM - Moving on to the internets: Google's YouTube and Picasa. "To tell you more, please welcome YouTube's Steve Chen and Google's Mike Horowitz."
"We are bringing the worlds of the internet and Panasonic together." These guys are pretty stiff, and Steve's mic keeps cutting out. Hiro: "We're calling this product Viera Cast." Showing the interface, pretty slick. Users can browse and view YouTube videos right from their widescreen TV. They're showing the piano cat video. Still cute. "Practice makes perfect."
9:40AM - Now they're showing off Picasa, and the interface is equally slick. "This is a wonderful expansion of the digital hearth." Mike and Steve are out.
"Our vision is to take the TV beyond digital entertainment." "Whole Life Connectivity. Much of this is already happening in Japan, and will become more and more popular around the world in the next couple years.
Carlton and Michelle are back, talking about making the TV the center of our digital lives. Powerline networking, still pretty boring.
9:45AM - James Cameron talking about his use of Panasonic equipment in the filming of "Avatar." Now he's raving about Panasonic's Life Wall interactive large screen.
"My dream is to replace one whole wall in your home, living room or office. Imagine the possibilities. And because we can't bring you to the Life Wall, we brought Life Wall to you."
Michelle and Carlton are showing it off. It's a faux wall, with a fireplace, and Michelle is customizing it with wallpaper, lighting and photos. When Carlton steps up, it recognizes him, and with a wave of his hand he's navigating his own media. As he walks across the stage, the media player window follows him. "It's called Stay With Me TV." And now the Kid Witness News girl is back, and Michelle is taking her onto the internet, with a quick look at Google Earth and then a video of some fishies.
9:52AM - Michelle is receiving a video call. It's some creepy guy, standing in a virtual doorway, recommending "The Alps." Sakamoto is back, and a clip from "The Alps" takes over the entire screen.
9:54AM - Back to those digital families, raving about how Panasonic brought them together.
"A whole new digital hearth. A place that enables new was to learn, watch and communicate." ... "Creates dreams of a digital world. Is this just our imagination? Stay tuned to find out." And it's over.
Shapiro's back to plug the upcoming keynotes. Thanks for sticking in there, this was beefy one.