By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAS VEGAS – The days of radical new innovations in television features and performance at International CES will likely remain a fond and increasingly distant memory for another couple of years, as the industry waits for all those early HDTVs to wear out.
While the 2013 show may not deliver the sea change in product development that the digital television transition brought more than a decade ago, it will offer a better glimpse at what awaits consumers’ living rooms in the decade ahead.
The so-called birth of “advanced television” was given a fleeting introduction last year with nearly sheet-thin 55-inch OLED TVs and super-large 4K LED LCD TVs. This year the perspective is expected to get a little better with more manufacturers and brands jumping into the game. But sales will still remain rather small.
This we do know: It’s almost prime time for Ultra High-Definition (a.k.a. 4K), behind the launches in recent weeks of 84-inch razor-sharp monster edge-lit LED LCD TVs from LG and Sony. And already companies including Hisense have shown a range of 4K screen sizes they intend to bring to market soon.
On the OLED front, market introductions stuttered a bit as manufacturers tried to work out production kinks that invariably dog major new market introductions. Both Samsung and LG showed 55-inch OLED TVs last year, and LG continues to say its U.S. market introduction is near.
As for Ultra HD at CES 2013, manufacturers will be looking for help from the content industry to begin developing native 4K material that can be played in some unknown format on these new nearly $20,000 sets.
The most practical solution will be a 4K Blu-ray Disc player, but a standardization process for a 4K spec is not expected to be ready to announce by this year’s show, and Sony’s loaner 4K hard-drive server is obviously not a sustainable market solution.
As new screen sizes begin to emerge this year, the debate will grow as to how small the screen can get to still derive the highresolution benefit.
Beyond Ultra HD and OLED, TV makers this are expected to continue to build on smart TV applications, especially those that play on the burgeoning “second-screen revolution.”
Look for apps developers to work in tandem with TV and smartphone makers and service providers to introduce new entertainment and social experiences that tie the big screen and small screens together for one integrated party around TV shows and televised events.
Also expect to see new advances in television control systems that leverage voice and gesture recognition for more compelling experiences than early systems introduced at last year’s show.
There will be apps that leverage the big screen to do more work with photos to appeal to those new DSLR and mirrorless digital system camera users in the market.
But, overall, most manufacturers will continue roll out TVs that appeal to value-conscious shoppers (think Black Friday specials) motivated by super-low price points for the biggest possible screen sizes, while opting to add on the smart-TV bells and whistles at a later time. So bring on the streaming Blu-ray players and nextgeneration set-top boxes; we’ve got UltraViolet movies to watch.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.