More queues and some pretty sore feet for this scribe, but the tech on show at this year’s CES is well worth the effort.

CES now covers such a huge array of electronic devices and associated bit and pieces that it's almost impossible to see everything. Some areas of the show, like the component supply sections, are more for manufacturer attendees. However, for us one small and innocent looking box was not to be missed…

Battle of the Set Top Boxes

As 2015 closed Britain’s Sky TV launched a complete rethink of their set-top box offer, calling it ‘Sky Q’. Among the highlights were seamless multi-room viewing, the ability to record up to 12 things at once and a smaller ‘client’ box for other rooms. All very impressive. But the US’s Dish Network has gone one big leap further with its ‘Hopper with Sling 3’ box. Here’s the detail:

  • 4K Compatible
  • Up to 16 recordings at once
  • Quad view ‘Sports bar mode’ showing four channels at once on the main TV
  • Client ‘Joey’ and ‘Super Joey’ boxes for remote rooms with the same interfacing as main room
  • Integrated Netflix
  • Smart search including Dish and Netflix content as one list
  • Remote handset with voice recognition for searching content
  • ‘HopperGo’ portable drive allowing recoding content to be taken away and watched remotely
  • USB3 port for expanding recording capacity

Oh, and there’s promise of integrated two-way control with Control4, Crestron and Savant!!!

Cars will ‘drive’ the smart home market?

As you walk around the show its pretty clear that the car manufacturers are going all out to connect to you through your phone. But several are also connecting cars directly to the home. One notable example was Ford who promised connection with the Amazon Echo so you can ask Alexa to ‘start my car’ or ‘tell me where I’ve been recently’.

The car is often the second most expensive thing people buy after a home. A more connected car will demand a more connected home to talk to! It's our thinking that these types of developments will cause more homeowners to think in more detail about their home network, and that is great news for integrators!

4K / UHD Disc Players Are Actually Happening

Many industry professionals have expressed surprise at the launch of the 4K/UHD Blu-Ray format. Huge content libraries from video streaming services like Netflix are already available. Some 4K content is creeping in too. Next generation set-top boxes like Sky Q and Dish Hopper (see above) also offer huge choice and great quality. So is there really a customer appetite for another physical disc format?

Panasonic think so, and were showing a working 4K UHD Blu-Ray player alongside a ‘premium’ range of 4K LCD panels. Most integrators will almost certainly be interested in the premium panels. But another physical disc format? The jury is out.

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