by John Sciacca
The January 8 morning press sessions at International CES 2012 here in Las Vegas included events from LG and Sharp while the day concluded with Sony’s event at its booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center. All three manufacturers touted larger screen sizes, higher resolutions, lots of internet connectivity, and new tech advances.
As members of the press entered LG’s event, they were handed a pair of LG’s latest CINEMA 3D glasses, which feature a very lightweight, passive design comfortable enough for extended wearing. (And, obviously, inexpensive enough that a pair could be given to every member of the press in attendance.) LG unveiled its CINEMA 3D line-up that included the new, industry-size-leading 55-inch 3D OLED screen along with an ultra-definition, 4K-resolution (3840x2160) 84-inch model. Many sets in the new line-up also will feature CINEMA SCREEN design, featuring bezels of just 1-mm thick. These smart TVs utilize NetCast, LG’s Smart TV platform that contains more than 1,200 apps for a richer online experience. It also has better embedding of social networking services, permitting viewers to share and “like” programs they’re viewing. Additionally a new Magic Remote offers voice recognition and “magic gesture” controls, allowing users to just speak searches into the remote or use gesture to control some functions.
LG's new smart TVs utilize NetCast, LG’s Smart TV platform that contains more than 1,200 apps for a richer online experience.
LG is also revealing its spin on a Google TV, which will combine 3D TV technology with Google’s Android-based Smart TV ecosystem.
In non-video news, LG showed a host of smart kitchen appliances with proprietary Smart ThinQ technology. These connected devices will allow refrigerators to keep track of food freshness and inventory levels and suggest menu options or enable users to monitor laundry cycles from a TV screen. Also cool to the male CE crowd was a new blast-chiller that is said to cool a can of beer down in under five minutes. Thank goodness for tech.
Sharp started its event by announcing that it is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in business and its 50th year here in the U.S., echoing the words of its founder, “Make products that other companies want to imitate.”
Sharp will be introducing 17 new TVs in the 60-inch and above space.
Sharp, with 16 TVs already available in the 60-inch and up size space, was the fastest growing brand in 2011 from a market perspective. Studies show that consumers are wanting larger screens for a more involving experience, and that higher resolution is allowing users to have bigger sets at closer seating distances. In the next 90 days, Sharp will be introducing 17 more new sets in the 60-inch and above space. In addition to introducing a 4K model to their product line this year, Sharp will be demonstrating a new leap-frogging 8K resolution set (7680 x 4320) with 32 million pixels and 16-times the resolution of current 1080P sets. The 85-inch set will be on display at its booth, with enough pixels to feed every man, woman and child in Las Vegas for a year. (Though that’s just my speculation.)
Sharp will be demonstrating a new leap-frogging 8K resolution set (7680 x 4320) with 32 million pixels and 16-times the resolution of current 1080P sets. The 85-inch set will be on display at its booth.
Also cool were the new Aquos series Freestyle sets that use WiFi to broadcast high def video to the TVs, so they can be positioned nearly anywhere in the home where there is a power location. The sets feature slimmer and lighter designs that most LED TVs, encouraging portability.
From an energy-saving standpoint, all new 9-series models will feature full-array LED backlighting with local dimming and meet the standard Energy Star 5.3 standard, meaning that all Sharp 60-inch and larger sets cost less than $22 a year to run.
Sir Howard Stringer took the stage to start Sony’s event, and the company spent a lot of time talking about its new Music Unlimited service, which will allow buying, listening, and sharing music across a variety of Sony devices and platforms. Sony also was excited about its new HD video camera line-ups, which will allow consumers to create HD content in a better manner than ever before. These models feature a newly improved anti-shake technology along with an updated version of the Bloggie portable camera that can live video stream via its built-in WiFi.
Sony is also returning to some of its portable roots with the new Walkman Zed, which is Android based with WiFi.
Sony is returning to some of its portable roots with the new Walkman Zed, which is Android based with WiFi.
Following on the CEDIA release of its first consumer 4K video projector, Sony announced a new line of Blu-ray players that will upconvert video to 4K resolution. While not true 4K, this can certainly be seen as the first step toward true 4K-capable Blu-ray playback and support.
On display in Sony’s booth – and announced briefly at the press event – was the very exciting new Crystal set, which is a true LCD TV. The Crystal will feature millions of actual LCDs, and, while likely a proof-of-concept model for years to come, Crystal certainly proves that Sony is still capable of producing some amazing tech.
At the end of the event, Sony brought out director Barry Sonnenfeld and actor Will Smith to present a 3D clip from the upcoming Men in Black 3 and then had American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson serenade the crowd of press with her latest hit.