Question: Did you see anything neat at the Consumer Electronics Show this year?
Answer: As always, there were several stunning, very large TVs with five-figure prices, but I always try to focus my efforts on finding things that the average consumer can afford and enjoy.
By far the biggest story of the show this year also involves one of the neatest products. Dish unveiled their Hopper with Sling, a whole-house DVR system that allows you to view your DVR recordings and live TV on your mobile device from anywhere with an Internet connection.
It also features: Primetime Anytime to simultaneously record all the Primetime programming on all the major networks; Autohop, which automatically skips commercials; TruVolume to keep volume from blasting during commercials; a Dish Explorer App that links your iPad to the Hopper; and a host of other features that make it the industry's class-leading DVR. You can see it at www.dish.com.
The editors of technology website CNET were as impressed as I was and nominated the Dish Hopper with Sling as a "Best of CES" candidate. The nomination is an award in and of itself, and Dish personnel were on their way to accept it when executives at CNET's corporate owner, CBS, told the editors to disqualify Dish Hopper with Sling and give the award to someone else. CBS does not approve of the commercial skipping feature and is involved in litigation to ban it.
CNET protested in the name of editorial and journalistic independence, but ultimately backed down and issued a statement on their website. Resignations from CNET occurred as a result of CBS' heavyhandedness, and it was later leaked out and confirmed that the Dish Hopper with Sling was not only a "Best of CES" candidate, it had actually won the "Best of Show" award as the best product introduced at CES this year.
The end result has been a lot of good publicity for Dish, a perceived loss of credibility for CNET, and a lot of bad publicity for CBS as it has endured universal journalistic scorn from many news outlets.
What I find most frustrating is the media companies fight new technology to keep it from being introduced and, when they eventually lose the fight, they reap immense profits from it afterwards. They fought the home VCR all the way to the Supreme Court and after they lost, they made billions selling home movies on VHS and later on DVD. They fought and sued over online music until finally making billions from the iTunes music store and other downloading services.
They don't always lose, though they usually do. If you have ever wondered why it has become so hard to record programming and store the recordings on tape or disc, you can thank the media companies.
It would be child's play to design satellite and cable boxes with FireWire connections to Blu-ray recorders so subscribers could easily save their full-quality recordings on disc. This is the standard in many parts of the world, such as Japan where Blu-ray recording is ubiquitous. This standard was originally proposed for North America as well but the media companies would not allow it.
Next week I will have more neat stuff from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
Read product reviews at soundadviceblog.com.