The Consumer Electronics Show is always a big deal for HDTVs and the devices that plug into them, and the 2012 edition was no different. With the majority of households already owning an HDTV, manufacturers are pressed to convince you to upgrade, and are pulling out all the stops. We've got new display technologies like OLED, 4K and Super Hi-Vision, plus more 3D and internet connected features than ever. DVRs and media streamers haven't slowed down either, so while some services focused on eliminating the set-top box, those that remained either shrunk (Roku) or added features (Boxee, TiVo, Ceton -- pictured above). The pace of the announcements made it nearly impossible to keep up with everything going on last week, so we've wrapped everything up in one neat summary available after the break.
While Sony had a slimmed down lineup of LCD HDTVs to announce for 2012, most of our attention was devoted to its slick 55-inch Crystal LED prototype. With a single ultrafine LED mounted to each individual RGB color pixel it was a more than worthy competitor to the OLED displays shown off by LG and Samsung -- although Sony was quick to point out at its presser that it wasn't out of that game either. Sony also brought two Google TV boxes to the show along with a redesigned remote, but may have been overshadowed in that area by the competition from LG and Vizio.
While Sharp's 85-inch 8K Super Hi-Vision LCD didn't make its debut at CES 2012, it was still fresh to our eyes and no less impressive as a result. With resolution that trumped any HDTV or 4K demo we saw, that demo reel will stick with us longer than anything else featured at this year's show. Another demo brought LCDs so light they could be carried around while wirelessly streaming video. We don't yet have an ideal application for this technology yet, but we'll think of something. As far as products that can actually be purchased, Sharp has enhanced its super-sized lineup with improved Quattron quad-pixel technology, built-in WiFi and media sharing, while adding the 3D-ready XV-X30000 projector. Thanks to its decision to go all the way up to 80-inches, Sharp will continue to wave the bigger is better flag for flat-panels throughout 2012.
As usual, Samsung had more display technology than anyone to show off in its massive CES 2012 press conference and booth, but we'll focus on the highlights. It featured a 55-inch Super OLED that it plans to launch later this year, as well as the three "Smart" technologies it's focusing on for HDTVs in 2012. Smart Interaction covers voice and gesture control, Smart Evolution promises dual core CPUs with multitasking now and CPU upgrades in the future, while Smart Content is all about video services and apps. We got an eyeful of the apps (numbering over 1,400 now) and control at the show -- processor upgrades are scheduled to be available in 2013.
The plasma TV standard bearer was back and blacker than ever at CES 2012 with a new VT50 model it claims brings increased gradation for more detail in the next Batman flick, as well as DLNA and lighter, Bluetooth connected 3D glasses. Also new this year are a web browser, Touch Pad controller and updated apps. Panasonic even showed off its own super hi-res demo, squeezing a 4K x 2K panel into a 20-inch LCD that it says is the world's thinnest and smallest.
LG got many of its announcements out of the way before the show started, but that didn't make its OLED or ultra definition displays any less beautiful. Its 2012 lineup of HDTVs featured the thinnest bezels you'll find plus an upgraded gesture control remote and smart TVs with more apps. The LG Google TV entry was also notable, with a slick remote design and custom interface, while LG also announced a partnership with Gaikai for cloud gaming.
One word: Autostereoscopic. If the glasses are the only thing keeping you from loving 3D, then Toshiba has the solution. Its 55-inch 4K LCD was back and better looking than ever, and it should come home to US viewers within the next few months. Whether your interest is high res 2D or keeping your head aligned properly for 3D, for a mere $10,000 or so the privilege can be yours.
Last but far from least, Vizio's CES 2012 showcase held a plethora of Google TVs, passive 3D TVs, and even a few ultrawidescreen models for the 21:9 fanboys out there. Its VAP430 set-top box should bring Google TV features for a mere $99 soon, and along with demoing OnLive for Google TV, fit nicely in the palm of our hands. It also had new DLNA-based media sharing technology that pulled in content from its tablets and just-announced PCs. A few delays means the product lineup closely resembles what we expected for 2011, but a focus on high tech for reasonable prices means we're just as excited as ever and the products should be launching sooner rather than later.