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Three Thoughts on Day Two at CES 2018

Another day of meetings and discovery at CES 2018. Here are a few additional thoughts on what I have seen at the show on day two.

8K is moving closer to reality. Yes. I understand. 4K is just gaining a foothold in the market, and HDR provides a visual pop at retail that may be more compelling than 4K alone. Yet, new 8K-based products are in evidence, with several slated for public release later this year. Samsung’s massive 146-inch “The Wall” TV (which is actually modular and can be configured for larger sizes) demonstrated 8K resolution, either split into multiple 4K displays or up-sampled to 8K. LG countered with an 88-inch OLED 8K TV, and Sony with an 85-inch 8K offering. Sharp demonstrated 8K televisions, an 8K professional camera, and 8K monitors for high resolution video editing (and other 8K-related uses). Many of these products will initially be available in Japan and China before expanding into other global markets. While this progression is not a surprise (8K has been on the display technology roadmap for some time), the increasing prevalence of 8K, and production tools for 8K content, reveal how this technology is moving slowly closer to a commercial reality.

Pay-TV providers have real interest in Android TV-based boxes. Among many companies offering products and technologies related to pay-TV set-top boxes, Android TV was a common theme. Several stated that pay-TV providers in multiple markets are intrigued by the offering as they consider their path forward at a time when streamed video was becoming an increasingly critical part consumer video consumption.

Nobody has a complete answer for Kodi-based piracy. One of the potential areas of risk for those deploying Android TV devices is the open source Kodi media server product. While the product itself discovers and organizes content from multiple sources, open source plug ins to Kodi allow consumers to access pirated content, essentially making it easy for users to access almost any content, often from pirate-based sources. The key problem for operators interested in Android TV is Google’s requirement that operators have to make the Google Play app store available on the device, including Kodi or similar apps. Companies involved in content security and conditional access are working to address this issue, with options ranging from blocking certain plug-ins or streams to actively pursuing and attempting to shut down illegal streams. However, no one appears to have a comprehensive solution to eliminate this risk.

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