CES 2018: Television Frenzy
Where the prestigious CES event ends, a new year in television begins. For many manufacturers, CES is the perfect opportunity to release their new TV lineup for the coming year; and for some also to show their new and sometimes magical innovations. In this article we take a look at some of the televisions that were shown at CES. A look at what 2018 (and the years after) have to offer in the world of television.
Innovation is key
The battle for most-innovative TV product was held between two of the biggest competitors in the TV world: Samsung and LG. They both showed a product unlike any other to date, surprisingly going into completely opposite directions.
For Samsung, bigger is better. That is what they have shown with their new product ‘The Wall’. A television screen that is a whopping 146-inches. And with this screen, Samsung introduced something called MicroLED. A new technology that Samsung intends to use to outplay OLED, which is frequently used by it’s competitor: LG. As with all new technologies, we likely won’t see it become available to all consumers at a reasonable price any time soon. Samsung did say ‘The Wall’ would be available for purchase some time this year.
On the other hand, there is LG. They went a completely different way, going for the complete opposite: smaller is better. To some extent, that is, because the television they demonstrated is actually 65-inches big. What LG introduced is however unlike anything we’ve seen so far. The screen they introduced can be rolled up into a box. Yes, rolled. As you can see, the screen rolls upwards out of a box, ready to be watched. And when you are done watching? Simply let the screen roll back down into the box. No more big, black screens taking up space in your room. Like ‘The Wall’ from Samsung, we won’t see this innovative TV on the market any time soon. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy looking towards the future, where this rolling screen might just be available.
The war on assistants
While Amazon and Google bet big on their respective assistants Alexa and Google Assistant in the field of home speakers; they are also making their way to the big screens. Many of the manufacturers announced that their TVs will support one of the assistants out there. The war on assistants on television seems to have begun.
LG announced that some their lineup for 2018 will support both Google Assistant and Alexa. Opting to go for already existing assistants, as opposed to their newly (at CES) introduced Cloi. Which might actually be a good thing, given that the assistant failed to respond to voice commands during the onstage demonstration.
As with many of their products, Samsung opted to go for their own creation, Bixby. While Google Assistant and the likes are available in many languages and in many countries, Bixby will at launch only be available in the United States of America.
Like LG, Hisense will also be supporting two assistants in some of their top models, both Alexa and Google Assistant will be available. The same goes for Sony, which also supports the same two assistants. It seems like most manufacturers try to cater to a big a crowd as possible, possibly expecting the support of a particular assistant being a deal maker or breaker when looking for a new television.
With the addition of many assistants on televisions, it is going to be interesting to see how they will make their way into the applications itself. While launching an application usually works, actually seeing assistants be used in applications might just be the biggest change we see coming to Smart TV applications. Just talk to your tv and start watching.
What 2018 will bring
Now that you’ve seen some of the futuristic products that CES brought, the event is also used to demonstrate the new lineups for the coming year. Many, but not all, of the manufacturers take this opportunity to shed some light on what they hope will be the best selling televisions of the new year. It is interesting to see what the different parties are betting on; some opting for the very high end of the market. And others aiming for the lower ends, with increasingly good specifications. Let’s take a look.
While many eyes were looking at the rolling television screen, LG had much more to offer at CES 2018. They introduced an 8K 77-inch OLED television, at a massive price of 20,000 dollars. In the slightly more affordable price range, LG introduced various televisions. Many being an upgrade over last year’s televisions, still rocking WebOS and beautiful OLED screens.
With regards to HDR, LG continues to support most formats. Dolby Vision, HDR10, HLG and Advanced HDR by Technicolor are all supported. HDR10+ is still missing from that list, and it is unclear if LG will ever be supporting the format.
Many manufacturers take the opportunity to show their lineup for the coming year, Samsung is sadly not one of them. No complete lineup was publicated. They did note that QLED is still the way to go for Samsung, as opposed to OLED. Besides the added support for Bixby and the introduction of ‘The Wall’, no actual televisions were announced.
If there’s one company who has been doing well in the world of TV, it’s Sony. At CES 2017 they announced their first OLED televisions, using panels from LG Display, and that seems to have worked for them. Because at this year’s CES, Sony announced a new OLED series, the AF8 series, coming in 55- and 65-inch sizes. The new series will support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
It is also quite cool to see that Sony does take care of their older models, with the 2017 higher tier devices getting Dolby Vision support via a firmware update. Still running Android TV, Sony also announced a few new LED series, trying to cater to the lower end of the market.
The most interesting release of Philips this year, is one of the smallest televisions at CES. Philips announced a small 24-inch Android TV designed to sit in your kitchen. With the support of a built-in microphone, Chromecast and Google Assistant, remotes are no longer needed. Simply talking to the device gives you anything you need, right while you’re preparing dinner.
Next to the introduction of the small 24-incher, Philips also introduced a variety of other televisions. With both entry-level and high end televisions, Philips tries to cater to, well, almost everyone. The only change being the dropped support for HDR10, and opting to go for Dolby Vision instead.
One of the still growing manufacturers, Hisense, announced various televisions at CES. Initially running their own OS, Hisense now switches to Android TV for their high end range. With this high end range comes support for Dolby Vision HDR. The lower end devices, still running Hisense’s own OS, however do not.
Worthy of mention in this list is TCL. While many of the well-known manufacturers opt to go for Android TV or their own operating systems (LG with WebOS, Samsung with Tizen), TCL rocks the Roku Smart TV OS. And they just announced a bunch of new devices. Supporting both Dolby Vision and HDR10, combined with the Roku interface, TCL might again be on the right track with their reasonably priced televisions.
There are many more manufacturers to cover, but not all of them have the interesting features that some of the above mentioned, do. They do however deserve mention, as they did bring something to CES.
Panasonic finally joins in on the OLED screens, announcing a 4K OLED range with HDR10+ support. Haier announced that their new televisions will run Android Oreo out of the box, and Westinghouse also announced televisions running Android TV.
As you know, Nvidia has been doing quite well with their Nvidia Shield TV, offering a media streaming experience supporting 4K, HDR and Google Assistant, among others. However, you still required a screen to hook that machine up to. I say required, because out of the blue, Nvidia introduced a television-like screen that might just be the solution to it all.
‘Big Format Gaming Displays’, as Nvidia calls them, are big 65-inch 4K HDR screens, supporting a lot of different technologies. Too many to mention really. Therefore it is not really a television in the standard sense. It does however come with full Shield TV support, meaning it can easily be used for video streaming and OTT applications. It might just take up an interesting place in the television market.
With this year’s CES, the support in new televisions mainly seems to go towards assistants and HDR support. OLED is still growing bigger in today’s television ecosystem, with Samsung still taking position against the technique. The following months will be interesting to follow, to see what Samsung has to answer, possibly with their newly introduced MicroLED technology. TCL also seems to be on the right track with using Roku as their OS. It is going to be an interesting year for the television, that’s for sure.