The TVs of CES 2013

What the screens on show at CES tell us about the next twelve months

For the entirety of the second week in January, the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show was the place to be in the world of tech. Amongst big-screen smartphones and Windows 8 PCs, tech giants like Samsung, Sony, LG and Samsung showed off a swathe of brand new TVs.

Sony's 56-inch, Ultra HD, OLED TV prototype.
Sony's 56-inch, Ultra HD, OLED TV prototype.

Ultra HD OLED TVs were definitely the darlings of the show, combining the two hottest TV technologies that have spent the last few years in development. Sony’s 56-inch, Ultra HD OLED prototype is a look at the future of home TVs — but it’s a few years off at least, and that’s without considering the price-tag.

Panasonic had a near-identical Ultra HD OLED prototype on show as well, with both products a result of the development partnership between the two companies. The combination of Ultra HD for massively high resolution and OLED for massively high contrast ratio means that when it comes to the business of actually watching video, these two TVs are as perfect as we’re likely to see in the foreseeable future.

Samsung's Ultra HD 110-inch Easel TV.
Samsung's Ultra HD 110-inch Easel TV.

Ultra HD had both the biggest buzz, and the biggest space on the show floor — literally. Samsung had a 110-inch Ultra HD LED TV on show, as did Westinghouse. Chinese player TCL did as well, with a ‘China Star’ model which incorporates Ultra HD, 3D, and multi-touch input, and will feature in Iron Man 3. 84-inch and 85-inch screens from several brands including Samsung were also on show, continuing the trend started by LG and Sony.

Plenty of smaller Ultra HD screens are also in the works. Samsung’s got 70-inch, 65-inch and 55-inch models lined up for a release later in the year, while LG is “diversifying [its] line-up” with 55-inch and 65-inch televisions. Sony’s also diversifying with the same screen sizes accompanying its $25K 84-inch BRAVIA. According to a Facebook post, Chinese dark horse Changhong will release a 65-inch Ultra HD screen for under $6,000 — what it calls “a massive tv for a very small price”.

Non-Ultra HD OLED TVs were around as well. LG’s 55-inch 55EM960V was the star of the show; the company is taking pre-orders around the world for the new set, although it’s not certain what the price will be, or when it’ll be available in Australia. Samsung’s F9500 is another 55-inch model in the same vein as the LG, although it uses a slightly different pixel configuration for its screen.

Three of LG's Curved OLED TV prototypes.
Three of LG's Curved OLED TV prototypes.

Curved OLED TV screens also appeared in LG’s and Samsung’s booths. Neither company has any hints as to when or whether they’ll appear on local store shelves — the technology is largely a proof-of-concept to demonstrate the versatility of OLED compared to LCD or plasma.

The idea behind a curved screen is that, in wrapping around the viewer slightly, the screen will look more lifelike — Samsung calls this the “immersive panorama effect”. The effect is also meant to make 3D content less jarring to watch.

LED and plasma TVs didn’t get as much attention as the OLED and Ultra HD show-stoppers, but you could still find them on the exhibition hall floor. What was most interesting was a strong sign of life in the plasma TV market from perennial manufacturers Samsung and Panasonic — both of which announced impressive plasmas, Panasonic with a few new VIERAs and Samsung with its brand new, beefed-up F8500. The other big players like Sony, as well as plenty of smaller companies also demoed a huge variety of LED, LCD and plasma televisions in all manner of sizes, prices and feature-sets.

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

PC World

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