It’s always hard to sum up (or even survive) the swirling mania of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And this year’s was no exception. But it was clear that CE makers, distributors, programmers and vendors have the 4K transition on top of their collective minds. Even Michael Bay freaking out on stage couldn’t dull the enthusiasm for all things 4K, including curved screens meant to enhance the experience and increasing optimism over the supposed capacity problems that 4K could create.

Said Comcast CTO Tony Werner: “We are keen on 4K… we like bandwidth-intensive applications because we think bandwidth is our friend.” In other words, 4K—whether in the linear TV environment or over the top—makes those cable wires even more vital. Programmers that got stung by 3DTV were more skeptical—but even they seemed to accept that 4K has gained significant momentum with fewer hurdles than 3D. TV Everywhere also reared its head, but less so than in past years—perhaps an indication that the TVE implementation ship has sailed. It’s no longer about availability; it’s about simplicity and the user interface. “We now have to take this thing to a different place and look at things that are more consumer centric,” said Jeremy Legg, Turner svp, business development and multi-platform distribution.

Wearable tech was also big, with several attendees spotted donning Google Glass headgear as they navigated the sea of people crowding the sessions and exhibit halls. Also omnipresent were executive tours by CTAM and CableLabs as guides led groups of execs to the most important exhibits and beyond. All in all, CES remains a vital as cable tries to figure out “the next big thing”—even if the chaos makes it hard to navigate in real time.

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