If prototype demonstrations at International CES prove to be a valid indication, the future will be filled with 3-D TV technologies, IPTV systems and high-powered media centers capable of playing and recording multiple HDTV programs at one time.
Key television manufacturers attending CES gave showgoers a peek at what’s going on in their R&D centers, although few had any actual introduction plans to announce for the systems.
LG Electronics underscored its recent decision to expand its IPTV systems in flat-panel TVs and Blu-ray Disc players by announcing Yahoo! in addition to YouTube, CinemaNow and Netflix, as a content and development partner for a range of IPTV products.
Among the company’s bigger product announcements this year was the expansion of IPTV service through new Blu-ray Disc players as well as being integrated into select flat-panel TVs. The company will offer two models in each of the LCD and plasma display technologies, equipped to receive Internet content from select partners.
In addition to receiving movies and TV shows streamed from the Netflix online video service, Peter Reiner, LGE’s newly named combined CE and major appliances marketing senior VP, said the new sets will also receive content from YouTube and the Yahoo! Widgets system “to provide complete information and entertainment and Yahoo-generated information to our consumers.”
Among the highlighted technologies at the show were TVs with a wireless HDMI connectivity to source components, enabling flat-panel wall placements without wires. Instead, wireless radio frequency transmissions send uncompressed, lossless HD streams via HDMI ports in the panel with 1080p resolution at 60 fps, said Woo Paik, LG’s chief technology officer.
In another product development area, Paik called 3-D TV the “next big wave coming to the consumer electronics industry.” He said LG has been working closely with broadcasters to develop standards that can bring the best possible products to consumers as soon as possible.
Paik said LG is developing a 3-D chipset that will be integrated into LG displays, enabling all of the anticipated 3-D formats. Paik said LG is also “working on both LCD and PDP displays to allow FullHD viewing.”
Panasonic demonstrated FullHD 1080p plasma displays connected to special Panasonic-developed Blu-ray Disc players capable of playing back 1080p 3-D Blu-ray Disc movies.
Panasonic is also using the technology to reinforce its commitment to plasma display technology, saying that plasma offers one the best ways to present stereoscopic 3-D images in actual Full 1080p resolution, where approaches using some other display technologies cannot.
Panasonic showed the latest evolution thin-form factor plasma sets.
The Z1 plasma TV will be among Panasonic’s first thin plasma sets, measuring just 1 inch thick, and uses Panasonic’s NEO PDP panel technology that boosts brightness levels to twice those of 2007 models or cuts power in half when watching at 2007 brightness levels.
The company also tipped its hand to future products by showing a prototype 1080p ultra-thin plasma display measuring two-thirds of an inch thick, and using the NEO PDP panel technology.
In IPTV, Panasonic expanded its VieraCast technology to more models of TVs and source devices, including Blu-ray Disc players and home-theater systems.
Panasonic said it is adding Amazon Video On Demand to its list of the VieraCast content partners. The service will offer viewers a library of more than 40,000 titles.
Toshiba previewed its Cell TV technology, which will bring high-powered Cell processing to TVs to enable recording and displaying multiple HDTV programs, and revealed plans to introduce Widget-enabled IPTV products in the second half of the year.
The Cell TV system is expected to be marketed in 2009 employing a set-top box that will wirelessly connect to a high-performance display panel. The box will perform as an HDTV server, with seamless networking capability, while the Cell system will speed up video processing to achieve new quality levels.
Toshiba said it will launch in 2009 the first in a series of network A/V products, including LCD TVs, LCD/DVD combos and network players that incorporate platforms developed by Intel, Yahoo! and Microsoft to deliver streamed video content, downloadable movies, photos and music over broadband connections.
Products due in the second half will support the Widget Channel applications framework promoted by Intel and Yahoo! and will include Extender for Windows Media Center technology.
Samsung unveiled its line of LED HDTVs with Web widgets from Yahoo! enabling Samsung’s new Internet@TV content service. The service will feature a series of widgets based on an open platform that will bring a “cinematic Internet” to consumer TVs. The experience is controlled through a remote and includes news, stocks, photos, video and eventually streaming TV, social networking and full-length movies.
Sony, in addition to highlighting new Bravia LCD TVs that will build its Bravia Internet Video Link technology into select models slated to ship this year, participated in a demonstration of a live football game broadcast in 3-D. The demonstration took place at a movie theater in town during the show and underscored the companies efforts in developing a 3-D system that could one day come to market.
The company also showed a prototype flexible-screen OLED TV with a 2.5-inch flexible plastic OLED screen.