Panel discussions put further emphasis on fragmenting audiences and their interests in entertainment and information beyond traditional radio and TV programming. Even the "old" areas of the exhibit hall and panel discussions were dotted with next-generation ventures. For example, iBiquity Digital showed its growing line of home and car stereo systems able to receive "HD Radio," the company's new term for its digital AM radio system. The very fact that iBiquity chose to showcase its service with a line-up of consumer products is another reminder of how much these industries are blurring together.
Another example of the continuing interbreeding of electronics products surfaced at Panasonic's exhibit. The company highlighted a prototype of its new all-digital video camera, intended for field production, including news-gathering. The camera, which has not yet been produced or priced, is entirely tapeless; that is, it stores "footage" on digital drives. In unveiling the camera, Panasonic officials took pains to point out its inspiration from consumer video cameras already on the market.
Fortunately, the television-versus-PC debate was either muted or out of earshot at this year's NAB event. Yet the blending of the platforms is taken for granted in many circles. Microsoft, for example, put a heavy emphasis on using broadcasters' digital spectrum for data transmission in the bandwidth not used for DTV programming. Among featured opportunities was the new iBlast "Game Silo," a bundle of videogames downloaded through the airwaves (and a special receiver) into a PC or Xbox. For a $10 monthly fee, gamers can get a constant software update. Is that a complement or competitor to traditional videogames?