My first two press events of CES 2013 were with Sharp and Stream TV Networks.
Sharp’s event was pretty typical; they talked about bigger, brighter, better, um, Sharp-er sets with expected higher – UltraHD 4K – resolutions. Sharp’s chairman and CEO, Toshi Osawa, affirmed the company’s dominance as the number leader in the 60-inch and above LED category.
For 2013, all large screen sizes in the Sharp line-up throughout the 6, 7 and 8 series will be smart. In addition, Sharp is adding a variety of features to its Web-enabled sets, and all of the 2013 Smart sets will features Dual Core processors, HTML5 and Flash support, 2nd screen support and built-in WiFi. Another cool feature is Sharp Beam, a very Apple TV sounding free app that will allow users to “flick” content from iOS or Android devices for viewing on their big screen. Also cool is a new Wallpaper mode. The sets come pre-loaded with some artwork, and the screen adjusts to museum lighting level to turn the flat screen into the largest piece of art in the home.
Sharp hasn’t forgotten about the audio on the new sets, as the 7- and 8-Series models will use Yamaha’s DSP technology and a 15-watt subwoofer for improved sound.
Also impressive was the Sharp’s showcasing of IGZO—Indium, Gallium, Zinc, Oxide. IZGO is “an innovative compound that replaces the industry standard amorphous silicon material used for the active layer in thin-film transistors” and Sharp claims that IGZO will be the key to future Organic LED displays. This technology will allow a whole generation of displays that produce ultra high-resolution images at dramatically lower power and be highly responsive to touch. Sharp is revealing a 32-inch IGZO LCD monitor with 4K resolution.
Sharp is also launching two new 4K Ultra HD resolution sets, including one in the new flagship ICC Purios line, which is the first set that has passed the 400 tests required to receive THX 4K Display certification. Additionally, an AQUOS branded Ultra HD set will also be coming later in the year.
I was intrigued by the Stream TV Networks press release which stated, “The wait is finally over. Ultra-D 2160p makes its public debut at CES2013. Be the first to see the Ultra-D powered 60-inch 4K glasses-free 3D display at our Press Conference.”
With the promise of that technology, I was hoping for an amazing press conference, with lots of exciting details and displays. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a Power Point presentation. A power point presentation in 2D on a totally old video projector. It seemed like a huge missed opportunity to show off the real-time 3D conversion of the system. Also, much of the event was the presenter rattling off facts and figures as he clicked through slides, turning what should have been a very cool and exciting announcement into a technology lecture. The set also addresses the big 4K elephant in the room—the utter lack of 4K content. The Ultra-D algorithms add pixels to generate 2160 content and improve the glasses-free 3D effect. The amount of 3D effect can also be altered by the viewer on the fly to adjust for individual preference. After about 30 minutes of talking, they finally turned the set on and invited us to come up and take a look. While the glasses-less 3D didn't offer as much depth as 3D with glasses, it was by far the most impressive glasses-free demonstration I’ve seen. There was real depth and very little blurring, and the effect worked for many people over a wide viewing area. Some scenes certainly worked better than others as far as depth and clarity, but it’s clear that glasses-free technology has taken a few giant steps forward since the demonstrations I saw from Sony last year. Here is a video of the set in action.