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Philips, CEBIT’2003. A full review of new products and technologies
Every day Earth becomes smaller, distances reduce and our life becomes more dynamic. This statement can be heard almost in each country of the world from different people. Earlier it was a slogan of tourist agents, but later people of different occupations began to repeat it. As a result of globalization process, people are receiving too much information. A person, who lives in a city, gets 20 times more information than his predecessor. It’s very difficult, even to specialists in one narrow field, to orient in this information. That is why some large companies, which have many elaborations in some fields, try to share information about new products with journalists long before official announcements. We would like to tell about Philips and those devices that would be showed on CeBit this year. There would be no mobile phones there; new models would be showed only in the end of April or middle of May. Nevertheless, Philips would unveil a wide range of new technologies and products, based on them. Our on-line edition is interested not only in mobile phones, but all hi-tech products, which could influence consumer electronics market and stimulate other developers.
Not many know that Philips has long business relationships with Russia. For example, electric bulbs from Philips were delivered even before the revolution to St. Petersburg. Then, it was a lull, but within last 10 years this company was actively working up Russian market, not only in the field of consumer electronics, but computer technologies, lighting and so on. Philips is a world’s leader in many fields, so, it was very interesting to acquaint with new products from this company a month before official announcement. Thanks to an invitation of Russian representatives of Philips, we could also tell you about this novelties.
A meeting was hold in Prague. In my opinion this old, beautiful city is an intersection of West and East Europe and it was a wonderful choice to hold a Pre CeBit here. Prague met us with rainy weather after Moscow’s frosts, but already next day winter sun was shining brightly. We began to acquaint with the ideology of Philips long before a press conference. All journalists stayed in the hotel, which has a close spirit to Philips views. Look at the lobby of the hotel, it combines style, design, but it is still warm and cozy. Devices from Philips organically blend with this kind of interiors and you begin to understand thoughts and ideas of designers. On the other hand, this new hotel seems to blend well with old streets and old houses of the Prague center. Philips also has a universal design, modern devices fit to any interiors.
No doubts, that somebody could object that there are many other excellent design solutions and Philips is not an exception. Yes, of course, but these solutions would be different from Philips. It means that it has something unique in its ideology. Tastes differ but designers from Philips were pioneers in many fields and they hold there leading positions in some of them. By the way, Philips got many awards for best design of one or another product.
I don’t think that it is necessary to tell about our first evening in Prague. You would learn nothing new except an excellent taste of beer and how wonderful the city at night. Next day we gathered in a hall of the hotel and listened to report of Cesar Vorhinger CIO Philips. He told about results of the last year and near-future plans. We can remind, that in 2002 Philips introduced a new technology Pixel Plus, which increased sales of TVs. Also the company was successful in such things as DVD and DVDR. Generally speaking, 2002 was a quiet year of growth without any significant events.
Most likely, that year 2003 will be also a quiet year and Philips’s vision will concentrate on what they call “Connected Home”. Mr. Vorhinger noted that in near future analytics predict a boom of broadband. It is estimated that by 2005, almost 30% of Western European households will have broadband. By the way, today only 11% of US homes have a broadband. Korea seems to be a world’s leader in this filed; a broadband penetration rate is about 70% now. Yes, it’s great to have a quick connection to Internet, but what is Philips business?!
It’s very easy, the company decided to introduce own solution, which includes not only just connection to Internet, but ties different devices with each other in the house. Philips has a real possibility to do it. On the one hand, it makes consumer electronics; on the other, it shifts components for wireless connectivity and elaborates devices for data storage. So, the company has a unique position, as it occupies several segments of the market simultaneously.
It’s not a secret that conception of the Connected Home, what states that all devices, including doors and bulbs, can be controlled with only one remote control, became popular one year ago. Many companies introduced own vision of this problem. Some of them told that the PC would be a center of the Connected Home. Others, for example, mobile phone manufacturers argued that it would be a smartphone. Electronics companies stated that the center device should be TV, as it was available in almost every home. Philips decided to unite three ways, according to the conception of this company, each device is significant and any configurations can be created. It’s not important which one would be the main one; more interesting what they give the consumer. In near future Philips thinks that the first stage of the Connected Home is entertainment (games, music, video and all other things that are necessary to relax).
The iPronto can become a base of the Connected Home. It is a portable display-based device, which is worked under Linux control. This computer can not only control all devices in your home, but also receives programming information, news, weather and other information. First samples of iPronto were showed one year ago. New devices have no considerable differences from the old ones.
Wireless Digital Multimedia Receiver was the other demonstrated device. In a standard shape of a videotape recorder engineers from Philips built-in device, which, using a standard wireless link (802.11b), allows you to download mp3 files, images and video files (DivX, mpeg1) from your PC to normal audio systems and TV sets. It means that if, for example, you decide to show new photos to your guest, you can just switch on TV and list on it all folders and files from PC with a help of one button on remote control. So, you can enjoy all PC-based content in the convenience and comfort of normal home setting. It is obvious that a wireless adapter for PC is also necessary to make these operations. But, taking into account a popularity of WiFi standard, it would surely be purchased by most of customers. During the demonstration we really could enjoy photos of good quality on a TV set. Unfortunately, the price of this device wasn’t mentioned during the showcase.
An appearing of audio systems, which could transmit different Internet-stations, is a logical development of the idea of content downloading. In my opinion, these devices are rather far from reality now; they can just demonstrate future possibilities.
Next device, which is rather interesting, is called DesXscape. This word unite two ones – Desktop and Escape. This 15DM monitor (1024õ768 pixels) differs from other ones by its mobility. So, you can take this monitor, which is placed on the table, and lie in bed; then read e-mails or other information. Lithium-ion battery provides 3-4 hours of active work. The battery can be removed and easily changed. A wireless technology (802.11b) is utilized to PC connection. Again an additional adapter is necessary for PC. This detachable monitor features as touch-screen with built-in virtual keyboard, which enables to input small text, when you are in another room. As for me, the display is a little bit heavy (2.5 kg). The device includes a picture frame stand, which allows users to place the monitor on any flat surface. In the test sample, which we saw, it slipped out of hands and it was necessary to hold it, what was not very convenient. But, we think that it was a shortcoming of the demonstrated sample.
In response to technical features, this LCD-display is a typical representative of modern screens and has no peculiarities. It has built-in stereo speakers, and stylus. Besides this monitor has a standard set of system connectors, including USB one.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to use this display to play games, as data from PC are transmitted with a small delay. It’s not important for text editing or picture viewing, but the game becomes uncontrollable and not captivate. For example, if you use a universal player and after that close it, then during a short period you can still hear a sound.
DesXcape has its own operating system and uses Intel Xscale processor (400 Mhz). It has 64 Mb RAM and 32 Mb Flash memory. An operating system is necessary for distance access to PC and authorization. Manufacturer could install some programs that would be executed on the display, when you switch it on (a user doesn’t have this possibility). An interface is based on the style of Windows XP. The menu is absolutely the same, no differences.
Namely, integrated OS supports virtual keyboard, but it is available only in several languages now, what reduces a number of countries, where this monitor would be available. The DesXcape will be firstly launched in such countries as UK, Germany, France and Benelux. A retail price of this display is not low; it will be about 1700 Euro. But if to remember a price of first LCD monitors it not seems exorbitant. We should not forget that it is a first device of this class. We think that in 3-4 years these monitors would be conventional devices; the idea is very simple, so it should work. When various models are launched, the price would fall down, of course.
That’s all for today. In the next part we tell about new monitors, technology of picture quality enhancement, noiseless projector, new home DVD recorder and world’s first portable MP3 CD player with games feature. All these products are very unusual and worth to see.
Published 14 February 2003
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