What’s old is new again: TVs dominate CES 2013

January 11, 2013

This post was written by Jake Tulsky, Business Development Manager

The coolest technology at this year’s CES is a device first envisioned by Philo Farnsworth in 1920. TVs are dominating Central Hall at CES with major manufacturers debuting a host of new designs and functionality. Sony, LG, Sharp, Samsung, and Panasonic are all here, showing off 4K Ultra HD, OLEDs, smart TVs, multi-view 3-D, glasses-free 3-D, and transparent TVs.

Visually, LG’s OLED TVs are the most stunning, offering jaw-dropping, crystal-clear pictures. OLEDs use organic, light-emitting chemicals to efficiently radiate a spectacular spectrum of light. They’re faster, more energy efficient, and offer more brilliant pictures than even the best plasma, LED, or LCD TVs. In fact, the closer you get to an OLED screen, the better it looks — so much so that LG reps are urging visitors to practically press their noses to the screen.

Because OLED materials are self-emissive, there is no need for a backlight or other components, allowing the screens to be razor thin. So thin, in fact, that by using plastic instead of glass, OLED displays can be flexible, allowing users to bend or conform a device.

Samsung unveiled flexible displays this week under the Youm brand and reported that flexible OLEDs will soon be in consumers’ hands. The first devices will be more curved than truly flexible, but imagine the myriad applications for flexible displays and how they might reshape the way we view content or interact with a device.

But perhaps the coolest theme to emerge from the TV space at CES is smart or social TVs. Picture quality is important — as is size, weight, and energy efficiency — but viewers also want to do more with their TVs, just as they have become accustomed to with phones and tablets.

One solution is Panasonic’s Viera lineup, which comes equipped with facial recognition technology to automatically serve up customized home pages, full of a viewer’s favorite TV shows, movies, and of course, social networks. TV manufacturers are bracing for Apple’s much-anticipated TV launch by embedding these technologies now, hopefully precluding Apple’s ability to wow consumers with its soon-to-be-announced product.

CES this year is brimming with TVs that are more intuitive, customized, and capable of doing double, triple, and quadruple duty as entertainment, computer, Internet, audio system, and home-based video conferencing studio.

In addition to the big TV players, this year brings a brand-new lineup of Chinese TV manufacturers to CES. Hisense, Konka, Changhong, TCL, Haier, and others all are attracting big attention with TVs that promise to break new ground in terms of lower consumer prices.

Don’t be fooled, however. There’s nothing second rate about their technology. For instance, Konka is previewing a new transparent TV. Haier’s glasses-free 3-D does away with the annoying need to wear the horn rims to enjoy your favorite movie.

Please stay tuned as I wrap up my series on CES here on Gregarious this week.

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