CES logoI had been on the fence about attending CES again next month. The former Consumer Electronics Show was once a treasure trove of new equipment for satellite TV and terrestrial over-the-air devices. It was always interspersed through a few thousand non-TV exhibitors like targets in a scavenger hunt, and for several years the sea of irrelevant (to this blog) but amazing stuff surged to drown out what I was looking for.

Then Channel Master announced that it would use CES to show off a new device that combined the Android TV world of internet-based content with a mature OTA DVR. I decided to give CES another year.

(By the way, if you want to attend for free, I just got an email link from Hypercel that’s supposed to be good through Dec. 18. If you’re coming, drop me a line so we might find time to say hello.)

Since I’ve committed and bought my plane tickets, I sorted through the announced exhibitors to see who else I want to meet with while I’m there. Dish/Sling isn’t on the exhibitor list, though its usual location is still “On Hold” on the CES map. So here are a few other promising, relevant companies.

  • Plex – A streaming media app with 14 million users. It works well with OTA TV and so much more, but I’ve never had time to really try it out.
  • CloviTek – One of those startups at Eureka Park, the section with the most new ideas per square foot. CloviTek makes a device that transmits audio from a TV to a mobile device.
  • Stream TV Networks – After everyone laughed 3D TVs out of the building a couple of years ago, Stream TV has been keeping the faith. I still believe that glasses-free 3D could be a huge hit.
  • Antop Antenna – They just make really good OTA TV antennas, and they usually have some new form factor to show off.
  • Samba TV – Easier to experience than to describe, Samba tracks what you’re watching and suggests what else you might like. I think it’s better than that sounds.
  • Hisense – Like the experience of standing in a real mountain range, the dazzling room-filling video walls at CES defy adequate description. Hisense is one of those TV makers.
  • Silicondust – Makers of the HDHomeRun interface box that puts OTA TV on your home network. Always gracious and fun to talk to. I backed the Kickstarter for their DVR then neglected to give it a try when it came out. On my ToDo list now.
  • XUMO – After praising Pluto TV recently, I need to look more at XUMO despite its all-caps name. It also offers a free package of live TV and on-demand content.
  • Solaborate – Another Eureka Park exhibitor, it makes a device that “transforms any TV into an all-in-one, video communication and collaboration device for video conferencing, screen sharing, wireless screencasting, live broadcasting, camera feed with motion detection, Alexa Voice Assistance, and more.”
  • REMO Electronics – A Russian manufacturer of indoor and outdoor TV antennas. It might be interesting to see what they do differently.
  • And Channel Master – The single biggest reason for me to visit CES this year. I always love chatting with them about the latest DVR+ channels, but I’m hoping for something even better this time.

NFL logoAs reported by Variety, FierceCable, and plenty of other outlets, Verizon announced today that it will pay the NFL more than $2 billion for another five years of streaming rights through the 2022-23 season. It’s a hefty increase over its current $1 billion four-year deal, yet Verizon will no longer be the exclusive source of streaming games on smartphones, although it can offer them on its other properties such as Yahoo Sports, AOL, and Go90. Also, Go90 still exists.

The only games that aren’t covered are out-of-market Sunday afternoon games, which will continue to be the big, expensive carrot dangled by DirecTV for at least a few more seasons.

The best part of the deal, from my perspective, is the end of the goofy no-phone rules by which I could watch a game on NFL Network on Sling on my tablet but not my phone, or watch Monday Night Football on the Watch ESPN app on my AirTV but not my phone. You get the idea. It seems like a win-win – the league gets more viewers and we get to watch our paid services where we want. Let’s hope when the details emerge that it works out that way.

 Penny Serenade (1941) on IMDb

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne show off some serious chemistry in Penny Serenade, a retrospective of a couple’s courtship and child-rearing, set to a record album titled “The Story of a Happy Marriage”. They meet in the music store where Dunne’s character works, and their lives are a whirl of world travel, newspapers, and a song for every scene.

Grant was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar, the first of only two Academy Award nominations he received. This movie is an effective tear-jerker and a counterbalance to the more serious war movies and film noir that are a big part of the Internet Archive Top 100.

Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press are organizing one last-ditch effort to fight the FCC’s coming vote to kill net neutrality. On Tuesday, Dec. 12, dozens of web sites (including this one) will display banners suggesting what the future will be like if internet service providers are allowed to pick winners and losers. The Break the Internet project directs visitors to call their Congressional representatives to pressure the FCC to hold off on making that change.

A few years ago, this tactic worked great to stop SOPA by threatening anyone who would face re-election. The difficulty this time is that the FCC commissioners don’t have to worry about being voted out by the public, so pressure is necessarily indirect. (There’s also the problem of the Republican majority at the FCC in favor of dropping Title II protection and Republican control of both houses of Congress.)

Will this online protest do any good? I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong before.

 Three Came Home (1950) on IMDb

Three Came Home is based on the true story of Agnes Newton Keith, an author who spent three years in Japanese internment camps after they invaded her community in Borneo. She was separated from her husband and had to raise their son under demanding conditions. Claudette Colbert starred as Keith.

Although this was the only copy of this movie that would embed, its sound loses synchronization midway through. To watch it more easily, try this MP4 version available for download. It’s worth it to see such a highly ranked film in the Internet Archive Top 100.