The weird irony of coming to CES as a writer is that one rarely has time to write—much less a decent internet connection to upload said writing when it’s actually done.
I’m currently sitting in my hotel room, shaking off the whirlwind of events since my last post yesterday, after having survived the madness of the line to get into the Samsung press conference, a great exhibition by Dish Network, a shuttle ride all the way from Mandalay Bay to check out Sony’s brouhaha, a cab to the Palms Place for a shindig celebrating the BOOM Movement—a new lifestyle audio brand from DEI Holdings—a quick run-through of Pepcom’s Digital Experience (at which I really only got to spend much time with Lutron) and dinner at Nobu.
But there’s some cool news from yesterday that deserves a look, especially from the aforementioned Samsung and Dish.
Samsung, of course, had TV's galore, including obscenely large 4K sets ranging from the 85-ish-inch range up to 110 inches. (Interestingly, Sony is taking the exact opposite approach with its 4K offerings, debuting both 55- and 65-inch 4K sets at its otherwise lackluster press conference).
Samsung's “new shape of TV."
And, of course, Samsung is also showing new plasmas, which are even better and blacker than last year’s models. And then there’s the “new shape of TV,” which, quite frankly, struck me as a little weird. But that’s another story altogether.
One of Samsung’s neatest news nuggets from the show, though, is collaboration with DIRECTV, which in effect turns the company’s upcoming Smart TVs into clients for the satellite provider’s upcoming HR44-200 “Genie” server.
The remote interface technology, known as RVU, will eliminate the need for local set top boxes, allowing Samsung Smart TV owners to access content from the Genie directly from their TV screens.
Speaking of multi-room video, the big news from Dish is that its nine-month-old Hopper Whole Home DVR is now obsolete. Well, kind of. The company introduced a new Hopper with Sling, which—as you may have guessed from its name—now includes Sling technology built inside, rather than requiring an add-on adapter. This new Hopper with Sling also boasts two times the processing power, twice the memory, and enables offline transfers of recorded content to mobile devices like the iPad, allowing you to take your favorite shows on the go even when you can’t access the interwebs.
What Dish didn’t mention is whether or not a new Joey will be added to the mix, but that doesn’t seem necessary. Joeys are the second- (and third-, and fourth-) room companion boxes for the Hopper system, which communicate with the main DVR via MoCA. Really, they’re basically networking clients with video outputs. So I don’t see as how this new system will necessitate changing boxes in every room.
But I strongly suspect that my Hopper might meet with an unfortunate… umm… malfunction in the near future.
Needless to say, with both of these new announcements, multi-room distributed video—at least for satellite content—just got even easier and more interesting. One has to wonder, though, if this sort of thing is a boon to the distributed video market, exposing consumers to the concept and making them hungry for the same sort of functionality with Blu-ray and other video sources; or if it merely sets up unrealistic expectations for how easy it is to set up a distributed video system.
Either way, it’s certainly exciting news on both fronts.
Dennis Burger has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics since 1999. He and his wife live in Montgomery, Alabama.