TVs of the Future: What You Don’t Want to Miss

By ABC News

Jan 9, 2012 7:23am
gty ces dm 120109 wblog TVs of the Future: What You Dont Want to Miss

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

ABC News’ Contributor Becky Worley reports:

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the Superbowl of new television technologies! This year’s big event , underway now in Las Vegas, promises lots of new products, including big OLED TVs, 4K & 8K TVs, gesture control and, possibly, the first contender for a glasses-free TV that really works.

The  most beautiful sets at CES are OLEDs: Organic Light Emitting Diodes. They have much higher contrast than current LED sets because light can be turned off on a per pixel basis. Dark scenes are the blackest of blacks, displaying in rich deep colors without the blooming of light that affects other LCD and LED TVs.

OLEDs are super thin at just 3/16ths of an inch. In fact, some are so thin that the power ports and connectors need to be housed in the stands, not on the set itself.

OLEDs use half the power of current HDTVs and some sets will consume less energy than a 50-watt bulb. And, finally, the dreaded motion blur of LED and LCDs (when sports and fast action appear blocky) almost completely disappears with OLEDs.

I’ve seen small 12 and 20 inch prototype OLEDs in past years at CES, but never a true big screen option that is in production and planned for release. But, this year is different. LG has a 55 inch OLED on display, and Samsung is rumored to have another OLED debuting this week.  The prices on these sets will be ridiculous, in the $8,000-10,000 range, but predictions from analysts say that by the end of 2013 they’ll be more like $4,000. Availability is still a little unclear, although rumors of late 2012 availability are in the air.

4K and 8K TV resolution
Another trend at CES is more higher resolution TVs than ever. 4K and 8K, respectively, double and quadruple the resolution of the highest High Definition sets now on the market.  Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung and most other TV manufacturers are going for this crisper, more vivid resolution as an incentive to get consumers to trade in their old TV sets. But this technology is still a ways from everyday reality, and CES may prove a litmus test on whether attendees think the 4K sets are that much more visually compelling. Even more of an inhibitor to 4k/8K TVs is that they will mandate all new source video and new cameras and infrastructure from TV networks and production companies.

One other big news item here surrounds 3DTV. 3D is dead.  Long live 3D!

In the early press releases from manufacturers, there has been very little mention of 3D. It seems they now understand that most consumers aren’t willing to pay much more for a TV with 3D. It’s being seen as less of a feature, more of a gimmick.

That being said, there is early buzz around Toshiba and the company’s statement that they will have a glasses-free, big-screen 3DTV available for sale within the year according to CNET news. This is a big departure from other manufacturers like Samsung who’ve managed expectations by saying they don’t expect to have glasses-free technology ready for market within 10 years.

The success of the XBOX Kinect that uses your body to control gaming has spawned a whole new idea for interacting with your TV: gesture control. Imagine flicking your wrist to mute the volume, raising your arm to pull up the guide and grabbing or swiping to select a show.  They’ll even have facial recognition to turn on your favorite channels and volume presets when you walk into the room.

PrimeSense, the company behind the Kinect’s gesture control is showing off a TV driven with the same technology and Samsung is rumored to be debuting sets with this user same type of user control.

Internet connected sets are becoming completely mainstream so expect a lot of products to tout Google TV built into their sets. One cool product for people whose existing sets aren’t connected yet, and who don’t want to upgrade, is a new product from Roku. It’s small stick about the size of a USB stick that you plug into your TV through a slot called the MHL port (many TVs have these ports — check your spec sheet or the back of the TV for something that looks like a micro USB port) for wireless access to Netflix, Youtube and a whole host of independent Internet content providers.  No price yet, but estimates are centering on the $50 range.


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