The Skiff Reader will connect to its own online content store. Skiff said it’s also working with other electronics manufacturers to put its technology into a variety of devices. Pricing and availability had not been disclosed as of press time.
New tablet devices
Delivering Microsoft Corp.’s customary keynote on the eve of the show’s opening Jan. 6, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a new touch-screen, tablet-style computer from Hewlett-Packard Co., the first of several such devices expected to be unveiled this month.
The tablet–also known as a slate, a one-piece portable computer without a physical keyboard–was one of several new PCs Ballmer demonstrated. During his speech, Ballmer said the HP tablet will be available later this year. He also gave a glimpse of two similar devices from Archos and Pegatron Corp.
Tablet-style computers that run Windows have been available for a decade, but HP’s new machine is bound to draw extra attention thanks to expectations that Apple Inc. will launch a similar device later this month.
Apple, notoriously secretive about upcoming products, has not commented on the matter. But given the iPhone’s success, which propelled competitors to come out with copycat touch-screen phones and centralized “app” stores to sell add-on software, all eyes are on Apple to define what a slate or tablet-style computer should look like and how it will be used.
Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, announced that Natal, new technology that lets video game players control the action by moving their whole bodies instead of using a joystick, will go on sale for the Xbox console in time for the holiday shopping season in late 2010.
Bach said in an interview with the Associated Press that devices built for touch, gestures, and other so-called natural user interfaces will become much more mainstream in the next few years. While Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has for years said the same thing, Bach says computer science and hardware technology are now sophisticated enough to support Gates’ and other visionaries’ big ideas.
Microsoft also said it forged a new search distribution deal with HP that will make the company’s Bing search site and MSN.com content portal the default search engine and web home page on new HP computers sold in 42 countries.
The software maker has signed similar deals in the past, including one with HP in 2008 that made Live Search, Bing’s predecessor technology, the default on computers sold in the U.S. and Canada. People who buy such computers can still change their preferred search engine to something else.
Ballmer also announced a new version of Mediaroom, its technology that delivers TV over the internet on such services as AT&T Inc.’s U-verse system. The newest version of Mediaroom will let subscribers watch live and recorded TV and video-on-demand on Windows computers and phones and through Xbox 360 consoles, in addition to a set-top box. It will work over regular broadband, not just special fiber connections.
Other TV-related news
In other TV-related news from CES, the prospect of watching live, local TV shows on mobile phones and other portable devices is getting closer, as manufacturers showed off gadgets that can receive a new type of digital TV transmissions.
”Mobile DTV” gadgets will be available this spring for consumers in the Washington, D.C., area to try. The devices include a cell phone made by Samsung and a Dell Inc. laptop. There’s also the Tivit, a device about the size of a deck of cards that receives a TV signal, then rebroadcasts it over Wi-Fi so it can be received by an iPhone or BlackBerry.