CES is still relevant, just not as much

At a booth at CES, man with his head on a table

I pity this poor guy. CES fatigue is real, but it normally takes a while to develop, and this was the afternoon of Day One.

The 2014 edition of the International CES is over, and all reports suggest that it was the largest yet. That’s true for automotive fans or health gadget followers, but for us satellite folks, it was a little disappointing.

Once upon a time, I could count on CES to show off the latest in satellite free-to-air equipment, the FTA in this blog’s name. That presence dwindled, and in 2014, there was absolutely zero satellite FTA at the show. Searching for “satellite” in the over 3200 exhibitors’ descriptions turned up only 15 matches, including “satellite offices” and companies that supply to satellite and cable providers. Even Dish Network’s “Be anywhere, watch everything” description didn’t mention that s-word; Dish just happens to deliver most of its content through geosynchronous whatchamacallits.

On the other hand, a few companies showed a renewed interest in over-the-air free TV viewing. I got to hold simple.TV‘s second-generation receiver, fresh off the boat. Tablo exhibited a OTA receiver that’s very, very similar to simple.TV’s but with a tablet-oriented interface. Even venerable antenna manufacturer Channel Master introduced its own OTA receiver, the DVR+, which will launch with no guide subscription fees. The DVR+ also won a CES Innovations 2014 Design and Engineering Award.

And most importantly, CES draws together all sorts of people to meet. I talked with technological innovators, iPhone case demonstrators, and some of the other folks who write about what’s new. I was even present for a friendly meeting of attendees from SatelliteGuys and DBSTalk at the Dish booth. There’s a lot of noise at every CES, but the connections make it worth it every year.