With CES looming like an electrically charged storm of news and announcements, it's time for us to give you our best bets on what you'll see come January. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. For more of what's to come, check out our hub.
Looking for what's going to be new in home theaters for CES 2013 is largely a good news / bad news situation. The bad news? The list of tech we're expecting to see (Ultra HD -- aka 4K / 8K, OLED, connected TV and second-screen interaction) is almost an exact mirror of the high-profile launches from last year's show. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that this is the year we'll actually see the technology become available and / or more useful in our daily lives.
For an example of what we'll be seeing as the future of TV, one needs only to look at the 2012 Summer Olympics. NBC's tape delay shenanigans aside, the broadcaster brought a worldwide event -- with fully connected second-screen apps, interactivity and even streaming video -- to the major mobile device platforms for the first time ever. It was also broadcast in both 3D and 8K UHD, providing an early peek at what viewers can expect over the next decade.
In late 2012, both LG and Sony unleashed their first 4K consumer displays, and in 2013 we expect to see them joined by many others. An industry push for higher resolution should bring updated specs for storing and connecting compatible devices, as well as content from the studios. While consumer interest in the pixel-dense TVs has yet to be determined, if the prices plunge below $10,000 we'll at least be presented with the question of whether or not an 84-inch, 3,840 x 2,160 display makes sense for the living room -- and we can't wait.
While the situation for connected TVs and apps residing in the displays themselves is as murky as ever, the continued growth of tablets and the ubiquity of smartphones has made second-screen functionality a must in the modern era. During the Olympics we were just as entertained by live tweets and Instagram postings from the athletes, and even other viewers, as anything in the broadcast itself -- attempting to tie all that information together is sure to be a focus going forward. We also have the expectation of being able to watch content when, where and how we want. While licensing agreements and pay-TV anchors will continue to slow development there, "TV Everywhere" is finally showing some signs of being a real thing and not just a buzzword.
Oh, and OLED? We saw its ultrathin frames and gaudy contrast ratios at last year's show in prototypes presented by LG and Samsung. However, as 2012 comes to a close, neither has managed to put a set on the shelf of our local big-box electronics store. Still, we're cautiously optimistic that this is the year there's a new challenger in display tech alongside LCD and plasma, and it's about time.
During the last CES we did have some surprises, with Sony floating the possibility of its Crystal LED display technology and Ceton flashing its Q Windows Media Center-powered DVR. Neither materialized in products this year, but with competition heating up in the set-top box market and several electronics giants looking for a leg up as we move on to the next stage of HDTV, anything is possible.