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CES: 'Flight of the Conchords' crashes Comcast keynote

Comcast Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Brian L. Roberts dazzled the hard-to-impress tech set in this morning's keynote, during which he demonstrated the breathtaking speed of the coming generation of cable modems. He says they're capable of downloading a two-hour high-definition movie (Warner Bros.' "Batman Begins" was used in the demo) in four minutes. He said the same task would take six hours via a high-speed DSL modem or seven days -- more time than it actually took to make the movie, celebrity guest Ryan Seacrest quipped -- over dial-up. 

Roberts' promise to have millions of these modems (that's Docsis 3.0 for you geek-speakers) in homes by the end of the year prompted spontaneous applause from the audience (more than "American Idol" host Seacrest managed to elicit from the crowd).

Roberts also showed off a new Web offering called Fancast, which allows Comcast subscribers to use their PCs as virtual remote controls. It recommends TV shows and movies the viewer can watch, on demand, on the home computer. They also can elect to record using the DVR.

But the biggest moment, by far, was a live performance by Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, the stars of HBO's quirky comedy "The Flight of the Conchords." McKenzie demonstrated his own multi-platform devices -- including a "camera phone" with a disposable camera taped to a phone. The New Zealand folk duo sang their most popular song, "Business Time."

Yes, Roberts agreed, "it's business time."

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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