CES2022: TV news from the lockdown
Technology doesn’t stand still, even when a large part of the world is constantly in and out of a lockdown. The halls of CES do look a bit emptier than normal, but that doesn’t make the technology reveals any less impressive. In this blog we take a look at some of the announcements in the (Smart) TV area, and the impact it might have in the development ecosystem.
Battle of the giants
As done in my previous CES blogs, we generally look at giants first. But who are the giants as of late? Typically this would be a battle between the likes of Samsung and LG. They have been at the forefront of TV for many years, and most innovations come from them, too. If we’re however looking at data from the United States, it appears that Roku is the biggest in this area. So how are these three giants fairing against each other with their CES2022 announcements?
Samsung combines OLED with Quantum Dots
Funny enough, Samsung wasn’t the one officially announcing the first ever QD-OLED TV. That honour went to Sony, when they announced their A95K series. No, Samsung didn’t do a big press release about one of their biggest means of competing with LG. But they did bring it to CES: Samsung received an Innovation Award for the ‘Video Display’ category, for their 65-inch QuantumDot-OLED display. Even though Samsung didn’t announce it in a press release (yet, as of writing), it is still a big stab at LG to try and take the OLED crown.
Similar to previous years, Samsung doesn’t just bet on one horse. While QD-OLED might be their most innovation in the TV-area, they did bring a whole range of other devices to the table. From MicroLED, Neo QLED to Lifestyle-type TVs; Samsung has them all. And for good reason. By giving all these different options, at different price ranges, Samsung attempts to reach all sides of the TV-market, and does so successfully.
Hardware isn’t the only thing that keeps evolving. For the new 2022 televisions, Samsung has completely revamped their Smart Hub and Apps environment. Still relying on Samsung’s own OS for TVs, Tizen, users now get the opportunity to play games (through Nvidia Geforce Now, Google Stadia and Utomik), watch content together, and even trade and use NFTs. All from the comfort of their television. It’s a big shift from ‘just watching content’, to being the center piece for many different forms of entertainment.
LGs next level OLED
Having been the undisputed king of OLED in the past years, LG is this year again betting big on OLED. With their yet again improved OLED evo technology, LG offers premium televisions from their newly announced G2 series, as well as from select C2 series. Both series are powered by LGs new Alpha 9 Gen 5 intelligent processor, which uses the companies ‘Brightness Booster’ technology to deliver an even brighter picture.
OLED isn’t the only picture technology LG is betting on. Like Samsung, they’re attempting to cater to other parts of the market too. LG’s QNED Mini LED TVs use LG’s own Quantum Dot NanoCell technology. With this technology they’re able to offer amazing contrast, 100% colour consistency and high image quality, even from different viewing angles.
On the software side, LG’s WebOS has received an update as well. In the past year they’ve fully revamped their homescreen, and WebOS 22 further expands on that. Personal profiles are added so that each family member can enjoy their own range of applications, without the clutter of those from their sister or husband. Besides that, support for the Matter standard has also been added, a Smart Home standard that we’ve seen come in full force on many devices during this CES.
Roku silently gaining more traction
While many TV-manufacturers use CES each year to announce their newest products, Roku takes a slightly different approach. They don’t sit still for most of the year, and add as much as they can, whenever they can. That can partially be contributed to the fact that their operating system is exposed and available for different manufacturers, but it’s an interesting fact none the less.
The most important announcements from Roku during CES has to be the fact that, for the second year in a row, they are the most-sold operating system in the United States. Their other announcement at CES, in which they unfolded their partnership with Sharp to bring even more Roku TV models to US customers, further bolsters their movement in becoming the undisputed operating system in the TV market.
Best of the rest
Just because brands are not Samsung or LG, doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Part of the success of Roku is the fact that other brands are rocking their OS, so let’s take a look at some of the other announcements made at CES.
Sony ‘beats’ Samsung with first QD-OLED TV
As mentioned already, Samsung didn’t actually officially announce their QD-OLED TV models yet. They brought them to CES, but never actively announced them. The honour of the first QD-OLED TVs officially announced goes to Sony. Next to that, Sony also added both 8K and 4K models with MiniLED technology. Sony makes use of Google TV/Android TV, making them one of the most important and well-known brands out there for the Google camp.
Hollywood-tuned TVs from Panasonic
If there’s one company that has always shown amazing TVs (and other tech) at CES, it’s Panasonic. While last year they showed primarily gaming-focused televisions, this year it was the turn for everything Hollywood. Panasonics newly announced flagship LZ2000 OLED TVs are specifically tuned to deliver the best movie and series experience. And that’s not all. With new ‘Game Control Board’ settings, automatic NVIDIA GPU detection and improved latency, this toprange is especially good for gamers as well. It goes to show that, like many companies lately, gaming is seen as a really important field.
TCL makes thinnest 8K TV
You may have just gotten used to the fact that 4K television has taken its rightful place into our lives. It was only a few years ago that we were still complaining that ‘4K televisions don’t make sense, there is no content’. Fast forward to the beginning of 2022 and TCL just showcased their 85-inch 8K television that’s just a whopping 3.9mm thin. How many years will it take before I get to write a sentence that ‘8K has only recently taken its rightful place into our lives’?
Skyworth aims to increase presence in USA and Canada
Maybe not known as a household name in most countries yet, Skyworth has been one of the top OLED-TV sellers in China for several years already. Announced at CES, Skyworth aims to bring many different TVs to the USA and Canada in the summer of 2022. Skyworth has announced both OLED and Mini-LED models, making them aim for both the premium and lower-end segment of the market. Importantly, all TVs use the Google TV operating system, making Skyworth another important partner for Google.
Android TV powered projector from XGIMI
Did you think TVs were the only devices running TV-like operating systems? Well, then you’ll enjoy seeing the announcement from XGIMI. The ‘AURA UST’ from XGIMI is an ultra-short throw projector that allows you to project your content to as big as 150 inches, all in 4K. And since it runs Android TV, users get to enjoy the same functionality as many regular TV users would. Furthermore, it has three HDMI ports, making it an even further potential replacement for a fully-fledged TV.
Hisense for gamers
Another manufacturer that really attempts to bet big on gaming is Hisense. Their full 2022 line-up will include HDMI 2.1 features, Dolby Vision Atmos, Game Mode with Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode and more, all geared towards making gameplay run smoothly on TV. Oh, and let’s not forget their 8K Mini-LED series which uses AI Upscaling technology to ensure the best picture quality is always there, regardless of the content that’s watched.
Every year CES brings us many of the wonders of technology that we’ll grow to use in our everyday lives. We’ve seen the likes of OLED, 4K, HDR and much more make its way into our living room. So what are the key takeaways of the announcements made this year?
Fragmented TV operating systems
One thing that I don’t think will change for many years to come, is the fragmentation we see in the operating systems used on televisions. Unlike mobile where the consolidation has been made between iOS from Apple and Android from Google, that’s not at all true for televisions. We’ve seen new TV announcements for: Roku’s OS, Android TV (and Google TV), Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS, Panasonics My Home Screen (previously Firefox OS or Smart Viera). And what to think of HbbTV or ATSC3.0? If there’s one thing CES2022 didn’t change, it’s the fragmentation of TV operating systems.
8K is the future
Users might not be able to count the pixels on 4K televisions already, but if the announcements this year show us anything: 8K is here to stay. With most manufacturers offering an 8K television in some way, shape or form, it’s definitely going to slowly start replacing 4K as the standard in the near future. It might take some time for new encoding standards or bandwidth solutions to show up, as 8K takes up a lot of bandwidth currently, but it’s definitely coming.
OLED for everyone
Samsung has been hesitant to bring out any OLED televisions in the recent years. And for good reason, their biggest screen competitor, LG, manufactures majority of the panels for OLED televisions. But that might all change with Samsung’s QD-OLED technology, that we’ve already seen on televisions from Sony, too. In the upcoming year or two we’ll definitely start to see more of OLED, this time also coming from the likes of Samsung.
TV takes the center of Gaming and Smart Home
This is a change that has been happening for a year already, but has only been bolstered with the announcements at CES this year. LG, Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic all have made announcements in some way that target gamers. And for good reason, it’s a massive market that’s only growing. Next to gaming, Smart Home connections are another feat that has shifted from personal handhelds to the big screen. With most manufacturers pledging support for the Matter standard, we’ll be seeing more integrations between the TV and other devices in the household. So in both cases of gaming and Smart Home, the TV looks to take a bigger place in consumer’s lives, taking away from the personal handheld phones and tablets.
From a people perspective, it’s been a quieter CES than usual. But definitely not from a technology perspective. The majority of TV-manufacturers have made announcements and showed some of their devices that will reach the markets come end of Spring or beginning of Summer. It’ll be interesting to see what consumers will go for. Will it be affordable OLED from LG, will they try the first generation of QD-OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony, will Roku dominate the US even more? Only time will tell.