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CES 2018 Recap: Roku/Android TV Dominated, But the Fire TV Was MIA

CES 2018, the Consumer Electronics Show, is now over, but it was jam-packed with meetings and exploring the newest in technology. So I want to take a minute and review what I thought were some of the highlights of CES 2018 from the viewpoint of a cord cutter now that I had time to look back at CES 2018.

What was the biggest cord cutting announcements at CES?

There were two big cord cutting announcements at CES: Roku’s new Connect line of smart speakers and the ATSC 3.0 over-the-air TV.

Roku was pushing their new lines of Roku TVs from new partners, such as RCA and Philips, and brand-new high-end Roku TVs from TCL. Yet the real showstopper was a new line of Roku smart speakers. Now with Roku Connect-powered sound bars and smart speakers you can control your TV with your voice and get higher quality sound.

As TVs get smaller one of the compromises that has to happen is the quality of the sound from the built-in speakers. Now with this new line of Roku Connect speakers, your sound bar can wirelessly and easily connect to your Roku TV and be used as your voice remote.

The other big announcement was the new 3.0 OTA standard from the ATSC board. This standard will allow companies to start building 3.0 over-the-air TV devices like tuners.

Cord Cutters News even went hands-on with an early demo of the 3.0 OTA standard and saw it live in action.

Biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise of CES 2018 was not anything at the event but what was not. Amazon was everywhere with Alexa but was absent when it came to Fire TV devices. Last year we got the first look at the new Fire TV Edition Smart TVs. This year, nothing.

This was surprising because CES is the place you see all the TVs coming out that year. Amazon made no efforts to push their Fire TV boxes or smart TVs.

The only company to mention the Fire TV was Westinghouse, and they showed off a concept TV that they wanted to make into a Fire TV but it is just a demo of a new TV without official Amazon support.

You may be wondering what about the Apple TV? Well, Apple now has their own event they use to promote Apple products. So it has been many years since Apple and even Microsoft have spent a lot of time and money at CES.

Other Interesting Things from CES

Hulu had a lot of news with plans to update their live TV service with a more traditional guide. They also announced plans for a big push into the Winter Olympics.

TiVo announced integration into smart homes with the ability to control smart appliances with your TiVo box.

Channel Master announced a new line of smart antennas and a new DVR based on Android TV.

Beyond that it was a bit of a slow CES for cord cutters.

Why was CES so slow this year?

In years past CES has been packed with major cord cutting news. This year it was a slow year no matter how you looked at it.

As best we can tell, everyone in the world of cord cutting is waiting for the new 3.0 OTA TV testing that is happening later this year. With 3.0 OTA TV about to become a reality in Phoenix as part of early testing and 2019 looking to be the year it will start rolling out across the nation, many companies are holding back right now.

They seem content to wait and see what happens with the testing before they invest a lot of money into new TVs, DVRs, and more.

So hang tight. More cord cutting news likely will come later this year and next year at CES 2019.

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5 Responses to CES 2018 Recap: Roku/Android TV Dominated, But the Fire TV Was MIA

  1. Nathan John Ganiere January 16, 2018 at 10:46 am #

    yeah not surprised it was slow, that ATSC 3.0 standard that will be coming out could be a big game changer though for a lot of people, I’m somewhat interested in it cause about 70 or 80 miles from the towers living in an apartment so outdoor is not in the cards for me, and I heard this standard can cover several hundred potentially……..interested in it cause most the locals around here got plenty of sports coverage of what I would need, and add something like PHILO to my setup if I invest in 3.0, and I would be all set, all I would need, expect this to be a game changing, dollars saver…………

    • Todd January 16, 2018 at 11:03 pm #

      I’m curious if the reason you can’t have an outdoor antenna is due to a building design problem that prevents installation, or if it’s because your landlord doesn’t allow it. If it’s because of the landlord’s rules, you might want to know that both the FCC and Congress say that they are not allowed to enforce that, assuming where you install it is in an area that is exclusive to you.

      https://www.fcc.gov/media/over-air-reception-devices-rule

  2. Craig Smith January 16, 2018 at 10:46 am #

    The only thing of note to me out of everything from CES that I’ve seen? Was Google Assistant running on Smart Displays from JBL and Lenovo. Everything else was just “meh” to me. I was expecting more Android TV boxes to flood the market, but everything seemed to be actual Android TV sets. So that’s a yawn for me.

  3. Keith Foster January 16, 2018 at 10:50 am #

    I really want to see what these ROKU sound bars have to offer. I don’t need another assistant (I have echos all over my house), but if it can control my TCL and has decent sound I’m in.

  4. Fred Koot January 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm #

    Sounds like a Roku add.