Conventional bindings used to be attached to snowboards by screwing four screws into four inserts in the board. Then, Burton changed that by making you attach bindings to their boards with three screws. Two years ago, Burton then went down to two-screws, under the soles of your boots. This year, it's a two screw attachment again, but - critically - it's an attachment at the side of your boots.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:
The Channel & EST are Burton products, so the tech is only available throughout the Burton product family. With EST, you can remove the binding base entirely - should you wish - and ride with your boots straight onto the topsheet of the board. In doing this, feeling is increased but shock absorption is reduced. Also, as these EST bindings screw into free-moving inserts in The Channel in the board, you have unlimited stance width and angle adjustment. The downside: as this is Burton-only technology, you can only use Burton bindings with the system. Fortunately, it's reverse-compatible, so those 10-year-old Burton CFX bindings will work fine with it.
Burton have employed The Channel on their entire range - but they'll also be selling standard 3-hole versions of their boards. That means that if you're not convinced of the benefits of The Channel, you have the option to buy your board with the conventional 3D insert pattern. Cynics claim one reason for the introduction of The Channel was that the patent on the three-hole system was about to run out!
The Infinite Channel System is found on nearly the entire range of their boards now. This means that you can only mount Burton bindings onto Burton boards. Like it or not, Burton bindings are very well built and very popular, so this'll only effect a small amount of people who have a preference for an alternate binding manufacturer. And if you really want to take advantage of the system, get the specifically-designed Burton EST bindings, which have no base plates to increase the feel of the board.
Fortunately, the naff rubber washers on the 2008/9 bindings have been replaced by much more effective metal ones.