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ComicCon 2010: Content is King, 3D Games Coming, but 3D TV Not Ready For Primetime

Frequent readers of the Semico Spin know that I am a fan of ComicCon and attend it in San Diego, CA during my family vacation. This is the seventh year in a row if I remember correctly which we attended. As I say every year, there were more geeks than you can shake a light saber at.

This year I had a small video camera, a Kodak ZI8. I have added video to my annual show report. Links to some of the clips are in this article. You can find these and others on the Semico home page.

For those unfamiliar with ComicCon, it is the largest convention for comic books in the world. However, it covers a great deal more. Science fiction and fantasy TV and movies are heavily represented. These are usually tied in with comics and animation. There is also a strong tie in with video games. For the third straight year, ComicCon was sold out for all four days with attendance of 125,000 each day. It is the largest convention through out the year for the city of San Diego.

The show began 41 years ago as a small convention for Sci-Fi fans focused on comics and literature. It has ballooned into a huge media event attracting TV and movie producers to promote their work. These productions usually have a tie in with comics and Sci-Fi, but Comic-Con has expanded to pull in other pop culture media.

Content is King! Without enough material there is little incentive to buy the hardware. What consumers want to see and how they want to interact with it drives the development of the electronics.

ComicCon 2010

No, I did NOT go in costume, though there were plenty of interesting sights. There were the usual Star Wars storm troopers of various types, zombies, and this year several Mad-hatters and Alice in Wonderland. At ComicCon one sees the rich source material for new entertainment. This is very important for the video game market. The fans of the sci-fi/comic genre want cutting edge graphics and special effects. They represent a key segment of the video game market. ComicCon is a venue for previewing many new upcoming games for the holiday season.

Many new games were being demo’ed for all of the video game consoles, the handheld games and PC platform. These have ever increasing levels of graphics, explosions and interaction.

You could find lots of demos for the Nintendo Wii.

The Xbox 360 booth was mainly for Xbox Live and some new releases. I asked about Kinect, the new Microsoft peripheral for detecting motion. It was not on the exhibit floor at the convention center. The reps in the booth thought it might be at the Hard Rock Hotel nearby. I did not have time to go there. There were demos for Sony’s PS3 Move System. This looked like a lot of fun. The controllers appear to be two wands with balls on the end that light up – one red and one blue. Unlike the Wii’s “nun-chuck” style controller, Sony’s controller wands are not connected by a wire.

Now it is a matter of having enough games by the holiday season that can take advantage of Sony and Microsoft’s latest motion controllers for these to take off.

The PC gaming area was a bit smaller than prior years. There were no contests or other type of participatory activity as in the past. Nothing stood out in terms of HW. This mainly showcased new game titles.

Interestingly, I happened to find Nvidia’s offsite demo at a leased store front while walking around San Diego’s Gas Lamp District. That’s how big Comic-Con has grown. There has been so much overflow from the Convention Center. Nvidia was showing off its 3D GPU technology for the PC platforms. Even the least expensive GTX460 (MSRP $199) gave impressive results. The top of the line GTX480 is priced $499 retail, which seems quite reasonable considering what it offers. Nvidia was showing off it 3D wrap around technology using two GTX480 cards and three monitors. My resident expert (college age son) was very impressed with everything shown.


I saw 3D for gaming on the PC platform, as noted above concerning Nvidia. There was a Sony PS3 demo for 3D gaming which required a 3D TV monitor (Sony Bravia). However, there were no demos for 3D TV itself. Sony is a major exhibitor at Comic-Con. A few years ago Sony was promoting HDTV and Blu-Ray. Those have become mainstream so they are not at the show anymore. Any new consumer electronics needs content. It appears that there is not enough 3D TV content yet. Based on what I did NOT see at Comic-Con this year I would say that this will NOT be a 3D TV Christmas. It may be another year before 3D TV will be ready for primetime.

Other interesting gadgets and observations

Walking around Comic-Con I saw more attendees with various personal electronics. In addition to notebook PCs, smartphones and iPods, I saw several people with Kindles, other e-Readers and iPads. There was a lot of tweeting and more going on. The Wi-Fi network at the Convention Center was clearly taxed.

I saw an interesting product being demoed. Intel was promoting its SmartTV design. It is based on the Atom Sodaville CPU. The box interfaces with the TV STB and will display a rolling matrix of panels showing available channels and content stored on the DVR. It is expected to hit the market at the end of 2010.

Game developers continue to push the graphics and interactivity. Companies like Intel and Nvidia are innovating for consumer electronics. There are more 3D movies being produced. Eventually this will lead to greater demand for 3D TV. Comic-Con 2010 shows again that content is king.

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