Q: Did you see anything neat at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show?
A: 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 involves one of the neatest products.
Dish (www.dish.com) unveiled its 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 of the prime-time programs on 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.
The editors of CNET nominated the Dish Hopper With Sling as a “Best of CES” candidate. The nomination is an award in and of itself. But executives at CNET’s corporate owner, CBS, told CNET’s editors to disqualify Dish Hopper With Sling. CBS doesn’t approve of the commercial-skipping feature and is involved in litigation over it.
CNET protested in the name of editorial independence, but ultimately backed down and issued a statement on its website. Resignations from CNET occurred as a result of CBS’ actions. It was later leaked out and confirmed that the Dish Hopper With Sling had actually won the “Best of Show” award as the best product introduced at CES this year.
The 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.
What I find most frustrating is that media companies fight new technology to keep it from being introduced, and when they eventually lose the fight they reap immense profits from it afterward. 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, although 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.
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