Trendspotting At CES 2014
The top CES TV trends are listed after the break.
LG introduced curved OLED TVs in 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes at CES. Samsung went with curved screens for both its top-of-the-line LCD HDTVs and UHDTVs as well as carrying over its curved 55-inch 2013 OLED.
While our staff thought LG’s 77-incher provided a spectacular viewing experience, the jury is still out on the smaller models. To get a sense of what’s it’s like to live with a curved TV, we have requested a long-term loaner to see what we and our spouses think of a curved screen after extended viewing. Is it really more immersive and satisfying than a flat screen? Stay tuned.
Both Samsung and LG showed bendable panels that can go from flat to curved and back again. Samsung’s is an 85-inch LCD that will ship this year, while LG’s is a 77-inch OLED is a prototype with no announced production plans. We have to wonder, are these really the Clorets of UHDTV (two TVs in one), or just a gimmick? Time will tell.
Right now 4K TVs lack three things: content, content and content. AT CES, Samsung, LG and Sony all talked up 4K Netflix programming, which is expected to arrive this spring. Overall, Samsung did the best job of addressing the 4K content void at CES by announcing its support for a DirecTV VOD streaming service as well as its own UHD Video Pack media player. The Video pack will be bundled with the company’s TVs and be loaded with 8 UHD titles: 4 movies and 4 documentaries. The company expects to increase the number of available titles, which can be browsed and downloaded to the player using the set’s Smart Hub interface, to 50 by the end of the year. As with Sony’s 4K media player, we were told that the Samsung player will function only with the company’s own UHDTVs.
Both Sharp and Stream TV networks demo’d glasses-free 3D at CES. Sharp’s demo, which used a prototype 8K LCD panel, was the best glasses-free 3D we’ve seen to date.
Stream TVs’ demo of its third generation technology used a prototype 4K panel. While this was the best demo we’ve seen from them, it was not without issues such as limited viewing angles. A Stream TV spokesperson told HD Guru that the company will be licensing its technology to partners including Hisense to produce a glasses-free models in 2014.
At this point, glasses-free 3D seems best suited to education and possibly CAD applications. Based on Sharp’s demo, however, we feel that the tech could perhaps become viable when 8K (7680 x 4320 resolution) panels go into production a few years down the road.
Large, Expensive LCD UHDTVs
These will be available from Samsung (78-, 85- and 85-inch bendable, along with a 110-incher and a 105-inch model with a 21:9 aspect ratio screen); Toshiba (84 inches); Sony (79- and 85-inch); and LG (79-, 84- and 98-inches plus a 105-inch 21:9 model).
We expect all of these sets to retail for over $10,000. While high-end models can create a halo effect for a brand, we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out how TV makers can justify the investment chasing after market. While most prices have not been announced, Samsung’s 85-inch UHDTV is $40K while its 110-incher is going to sell for around $150K. With 13 models to choose from, we expect to see the 4K big screen experience to make the move from super expensive to aspirational. With 13 models to choose from folks will down have a tough time picking a which large 4K TV is right for them. We plan to the
High Dynamic Range
Dolby, Sharp and Vizio demo’d high dynamic range (HDR) tech using LCD panels with full-array local dimming LEDs capable of delivering considerably higher-than-average brightness. These used content containing metadata that instructs the TV to selectively modulate brightness in specific zones to create images with deep blacks and very bright highlights. Samsung had a demo of its own HDR tech that isn’t source dependent, while Sony will have something similar going on called X-tended Dynamic Range Pro in its flagship 950 series models for 2014.
The Return Of Full-Array LED Backlights with local dimming
LCD HDTV with rear mounted LEDs that would dim in independent zones, providing much deeper blacks disappeared from product lines in 2013 (with the exception of one LG 4K series). At the CES Sony, LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and Vizio announced that they will be offering LCD models with this feature. While the Sony models will only be available in a 4K version, Toshiba is offering both HDTVs (55-inch L7400 Series) and UHDTVs (58-inch L8400 Series and 58- and 65-inch L9400 Series). Toshiba stated that its models will have twice the brightness of the company’s other TVs, making them especially well-suited for well-lit environments as well as dark rooms. Vizio meanwhile, says it’s incorporating full-array LED backlights throughout its entire HDTV and UHDTV lineup for 2014 although the number of zones will be low in the entry-level models. LG also plans to introduce an HDTV series with the feature.
Panasonic’s upcoming TC-L65AX900 UHDTV LED LCD was demonstrated at CES side-by-side with its top rated 2013 ZT60 Plasma in a room with theater-like ambient light levels. The increase in dark detail was so striking on the new model that we awarded it the HD Guru Top Pick for Best 4K TV at CES 2014.
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