Two very cool tricks for video sharing were quietly sprung at Consumer Electronics Show with little fanfare. Maybe because the developers, Samsung and Dish Network, didn’t want to rattle the content providers that feed them and bring angry lawsuits when they believe their intellectual property is being misused.
With new tech being built into Samsung’s new M9500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and enhanced on Dish Network’s Hopper satellite TV receivers, it’s going to be a lot easier now to move the content off those devices. So the same movies and shows can also pop up on other screens and locations.
Many audio and video devices already have Bluetooth and WiFi receivers to play back content that’s been wirelessly “cast” from a smart phone, tablet, or computer.
But Samsung’s new high-end video disc player is the first that also has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter. And with it comes the skill set to distribute whatever is spinning inside that box to other screens and speakers in the house.
“So even though the disc player is wired to the living room system and the grownups are monopolizing that TV, their kids can put in a disc” (or maybe call up a stream) “and go watch it in their bedroom,” explained a Samsung demonstrator in our private briefing.
“Dish Anywhere,” not mentioned at all in the satellite-TV provider’s official CES announcements, will soon let users “cast” (or “sling”) live and DVR-recorded content from a Hopper receiver to one of those itty bitty, $40-and-up Amazon Fire TV sticks and boxes which you’ve remotely plugged in to a TV in another room, town, or country. You just have to be within range of an accessible WiFi signal streaming at 2.5 megabits per second or better.
“In a hotel room, you’ll plug a Fire Stick into the TV, connect to the visitor WiFi, enter your user name and password, and then call up a menu that looks like your Dish program guide at home,” explained a CES booth expert-in-residence. “Or you could put that Fire Stick on a TV set in your garage, so you can work on the car and still watch the big game.” The only restriction is that only one live or DVR recorded show can be dished out at a time from your home networked gear.
The Dish team had higher priority news to share at CES – like the addition of Alexa voice control to its Hopper DVR (Dish being the first TV provider to announce direct compatibility with Amazon Alexa.) And the launching of Dish Music, a streaming audio service powered by and compatible with DTS Play-Fi software and speakers. With Dish Music, users can spread the likes of Pandora, Napster, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Music to every room with a Dish-connected TV and speakers.
The company also used CES to launch the AirTV Player, a $99 streaming video box (with an unusually easy-to-set-up, voice-activated remote) for cable cutters. With its optional, $29.99 to $39.99 tuner stick, AirTV can blend reception of over-the-air channels with the streams of Netflix, Sling TV (Dish’s web-based product) , YouTube, and the Google Play Store.
Oh, and there’s one more reason Dish may have held back the “casting” news. Going public on the new Dish Anywhere/Amazon Fire TV connection might have gotten folks prematurely asking “So what about Slingbox?” — the pioneer in video place-shifting technology which Dish bought and then integrated into its own gear.