NEW YORK — Although advances in television technology
have been among the dominant themes at International
CES for more than a decade, much of the
news at this year’s show is expected to shift from the
living room to the world at large.
Most of the noise in Las Vegas this January is expected
to come from new advances in IP connectivity
in many 2012 step-up models, and how online video
services and apps will now tie together TVs with
handheld smartphones and tablets to further the burgeoning
multi-screen entertainment experience.
Expect most of the dominant big-screen brands to
push new interactive viewer engagement that links
the simultaneous viewing of television programs by
communities of friends with program-related socialnetworking
chit-chat on tablets and smartphones.
Also expect to hear more news on the rollout of the
UltraViolet initiative, which promotes a virtual content
locker system that allows consumers to purchase
a movie or video program on a Blu-ray Disc (for example)
in the traditional way, and also get access to
that title via their handheld devices through streaming
portals, downloads and digital copies.
International CES will also be the showcase for the launch of next-generation Mobile DTV devices that will
now be equipped with back-channel connectivity to allow
user authentication for video-on-demand services
and viewer metering.
As for the trusty big screen, the nation’s high household
penetration rate of digital sets and the still troubling
economy has slowed growth and reduced the marketing
equation to near commodity status for many brands.
Prices and profit margins are at all-time lows, and most
of the innovation now is being applied to larger screen
sizes. Expect to see a number of manufacturers unveiling
LCD TVs in the 60-inch to 80-inch range this year.
But the extent to which TV makers add new bells and
whistles will be the differentiator between brands looking
to generate profits per SKU and those looking to
make money on volume.
Still, several TV makers will begin to position themselves
for a digital TV replacement wave, which is expected
to hit once the first digital sets purchased by
mass consumers start to wear out in the next several
Expect to get a glimpse at some new display technologies
in the works from several brands, along with further
developments in previously shown approaches such as
Companies including Sony and JVC are also expected
to demonstrate their recently unveiled approaches to the
so-called 4K video projectors, and Sony might be ready
to discuss the status of the first native 4K content and
source devices that they hinted at last September.
As for 3DTV, it appears that momentum has shifted to
Film Pattern Retarder (passive 3D glasses) approaches
for LCD displays. Expect to see more manufacturers announcing
sets with passive glasses, including some former
Active-shutter 3D glasses will still be in force in many
higher performing LCD TV models and plasma sets,
which lack the brightness levels to make passive systems
Expect CES to usher in some new cosmetic styling approaches
for plasma, along with lower pricing for 1080p
and big-screen models, as manufacturers struggle to
sustain sales growth.
The evolution of Google TV will also be an area to
watch, as more manufacturers are expected to jump
into the market with Internet TV sets carrying the
Google TV v.2 OS to compete with Sony’s sets and
further the multi-screen viewer experience discussed
earlier among Android device users.
The show will also bring new set-top-box-based
IPTV approaches, including Blu-ray Disc players with
very aggressive price points carrying apps and IP services
to help legacy TV set owners connect with the
new multi-screen world.