Digital media news streams out of CES

Alternative ways to both obtain and watch TV and movies is a hot topic this week, with plenty of announcements being made in the run up to CES. Here're a few that caught my eye so far, and the show doesn't officially start until today! Let's jump right in. The other day I reported that Sears/Kmart launched Alphaline Entertainment based on Roxio's technology, the same technology that powers Best Buy's CinemaNow service. Now Roxio owner Sonic Solutions has announced that Intel is using Roxio as the delivery mechanism for its new HD digital movie delivery service.

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Intel's Intel Insider software (that doesn't exactly shout "movies!" does it?) only runs on the new Sandy Bridge chips which combine CPU and graphics processor in one unit. This allows Intel to deliver strong enough DRM that apparently movie makers feel at ease distributing digital HD copies of their films. Once the customer downloads the file they can play it on their computer or use Intel's WiDi 2.0 to send the stream to a (WiDi-enabled) television. Alternatively, of course, they can just connect the computer directly to the TV. Intel says it'll be able to offer 1080P movies the same day they hit Blu-ray/DVD. The service is scheduled to start operating in Q1 of 2011. If you're a 3DTV owner, you might be interested in hearing that Vudu is going to start streaming 3D content next week. Endgadget has the details and the press release, but apparently Vudu will tack $1 on to the cost of 3D rentals, and $2 to the cost of 3D purchases. Next up, Comcast has announced that Xfinity TV is coming to tablets in 2011. In a blog post they outline 3 new services: first, in-house live streaming of content to (as yet unspecified) tablets. So now you can watch the morning traffic update while you're brushing your teeth (assuming you can brush with one hand and hold your tablet with the other). Second, their On Demand library is coming to their iPad app. They claim 3,000 hours of content that can be watched in-home or on the road. Last, they enhanced the Xfinity TV website so that you can use it as a remote control. Yeah, you can change the channel on your TV from a website. Crazy! In a similar vein, Engadget posts about AT&T's U-Verse and tablet/smartphone integration. AT&T demoed an iPad app, ComplemenTV, that displayed content related to what was playing on the TV. Engadget says "Sounds more like an advertiser's dream than anything else..." and I have to agree. It doesn't sound like AT&T is ready to announce streaming content to tablets/smartphones but they seem to be talking all around it. I'd expect an announcement soon. Last (for today anyway) if you're like me and are intrigued by the idea of a Boxee Box, but vaguely horrified by the 'sunken cube' design of the D-Link model, you'll be happy to hear that Iomega is the second manufacturer to introduce a Boxee Box, and this one is a much more traditional design. While there's an Iomega Boxee Box with no internal storage, what's really interesting are the 1 & 2 terabyte NAS models. They're all expected to hit store shelves in the first half of 2011 with prices of $229, $299 and $349 (no storage, 1TB, 2TB respectively). For more details check out the Boxee Blog.

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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