For those who love their gadgets, technology and toys, there is no greater place on Earth than the Consumer Electronic Show (CES). Easily the largest event of its kind, CES has been held in larger-than-life Las Vegas for the past 40 years, and has showcased some of the world’s most important tech-related products.
Last year’s show saw over 160,000 visitors to the three day event, and this year saw those numbers rise even further. With over 3,600 exhibitors, there’s far too much going on to take it all in – so we’ve rounded up some of the most important new TV trends and designs that’ll be making their way into your homes over the next few years. Enjoy!
New TV Tech takes centre stage
In recent years, new television technology has taken CES by storm. As our traditional living room boxes become more and more advanced, the battle to reveal what might be the next big thing intensifies each year. LG and Samsung were once again at the forefront of this battle, with the two South Korean giants offering up opposing views on where we’re headed next.
With their OLED production facilities now in full swing after earlier issues working with the hard to produce technology, LG unveiled a whopping SEVEN new OLED sets for the coming year. Organic Light Emitting Diode sets are capable of even better black levels and more accurate colour balance than their LED counterparts, often resembling classic Plasma TV panels but without the exorbitant energy usage of the now defunct sets.
Easily the highlight of this new batch of TV’s is the 77″ screen, capable of changing from a flat screen to a curved set with one button push. Here’s hoping we get one in for demonstration some time soon!
Meanwhile, LG‘s South Korean rivals Samsung were about to unveil their own attempt to continue their 8 year dominance of the TV market (certainly as far as sales go, anyway). Not content with just producing superb 4K sets, Samsung have unveiled their SUHD TV range. This is where things really get futuristic! Samsung’s TVs in this series are now based around ‘Quantum Dot‘ technology – a new innovation that uses microscopic ‘crystals’ to form the panel. These crystals are 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, and should help to offer great flexibility with much higher brightness and colour palettes.
Sony were out in full force again at this year’s CES. The Japanese giant has struggled in the sector of late, making some excellent sets, but seemingly struggling to compete with the South Koreans for sales. They’re hoping that their 12 new 4K screens unveiled this time will help them get back into pole position. One of these sets, the ‘X90C‘ is reported to be a contender for the world’s slimmest set – measuring just 4.9mm at it’s slimmest point. More importantly for some is Sony‘s announcement that the latest sets offer Android TV compatibility, adding a huge array of new apps from the Google Play Store, allowing people to access new content straight from their TV. February 2015 is being touted as the release date, you’ll see them here at Richer Sounds as soon as they’re released.
Whilst Panasonic did unveil a few new screens, the big news from the Japanese brand was the showing of a prototype 4K Blu-Ray player for release later this year. Anyone who already owns a 4K TV will tell you how much they’ve been waiting for this upgraded disc-based format to come along. With the patchy Netflix 4K library requiring particularly solid broadband to work at its best, 4K discs will make things a lot easier for the film industry to push forward with UHD releases. Other than that, nine new TV models were shown, four of which were 4K. Panasonic have long declared their intentions to steer clear of the curved TV crowd, and that didn’t change this year. Instead they offered up solid screens with their usual top class engineering values.
The best of the rest
One of the big surprises pre-show was Samsung‘s announcement that Sony‘s ‘Playstation NOW‘ service would be available on their TV’s this year. The feature is a subscription-based streaming service for Playstation 2 and 3 games, played directly through the TV. This requires access to a PS3 controller, and the library should initially be around 100 games (their were thousands released during both consoles lifetimes), but it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out.
Sharp were back at CES, this year pushing a technology they’ve previously touted before – SubPixels. All television displays are made up of pixels, which each contain three colours: red, green and blue. A few years back, Sharp released a range of sets that also included a fourth yellow pixel. This year they’ve taken things one step further, by then dividing these four pixels in two, creating eight ‘subpixels‘ in total. The aim with this is to create much more vivid colours, and Sharp themselves claim that the picture with this increased colour balance and resolution, should be indistinguishable from REAL LIFE to the human eye at certain distances. Certainly be an interesting one to see for ourselves!
Google TV isn’t only coming to a Sony TV near you this year – Philips and Sharp are also signed up for the service. Samsung meanwhile are making wholesale operating system changes, switching to ‘Tizen‘, a platform based around the Linux operating system used on its mobile phones. This should help to bring parity across the two technology types, and hopefully make sharing info between the two much easier.
Author – Chris, Liverpool