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.
Sony fights the OLED future with new 'Crystal LED' prototype (Update: Hands-on!)
Sony announced three new series of HDTVs for 2012
Sony's second try at Google TV brings Blu-ray player, streaming box and a new remote (Update: hands-on!)
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.
Samsung's got a 55-inch Super OLED TV of its own, coming in the second half of 2012
Samsung has Smart TVs with dual core CPUs, cameras and more
Samsung 55-inch Super OLED TV eyes-on (video)
Samsung's Smart TV and Blu-ray players will be first to get FiOS TV App
Samsung Smart Interaction gesture controlled HDTV demo (video)
Samsung shows off integrated TV streaming apps and DirecTV RVU... again
Samsung 2012 SmartTVs will access DirecTV without a set top box, minimalists rejoice
Samsung ES8000 edge-lit LED TV eyes-on
Samsung outs compact BD-ES6000 Blu-ray player, less compact ES6500, get down with UltraViolet
Samsung's Smart TV SDK reaches 3.0 with support for USB controllers, payment and ads
Samsung releases CES 2012 teaser, hints at upcoming Smart TV products (video)
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.
Panasonic unveils Infinite Black Ultra Panel plasmas for 2012 (eyes-on)
Panasonic intros 2012 LED line-up, 47 and 55-inch WT50 and DT50
Panasonic carpet bombs CES with nine new Blu-ray players
Panasonic outs 'world's smallest and thinnest' 4K x 2K IPS LCD monitor
Panasonic Viera touchpad controller prototype hands-on (video)
Panasonic HDTVs show off Time Warner Cable IPTV app with live streaming channels, DVR access
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.
LG showcases 2012 HDTV line-up: Big screens, skinny bezels
LG's 55-inch 'world's largest' OLED HDTV eyes-on
LG Google TV and Magic Remote Qwerty hands-on
LG's Gaikai powered cloud gaming service hands-on
Gaikai partners with LG to power Smart TV gaming service
LG Cinema Screen LCD HDTVs slice bezel to 1mm, let two players share one TV
LG details 55-inch OLED TV, will show off its true colors at CES 2012
LG unveils 84-inch 'ultra definition' 4K TV it's bringing to CES 2012
LG unveils new 3D glasses, hopes lighter and better looking spectacles drive adoption
LG's 55-inch 'world's largest' OLED HDTV panel is official, coming to CES 2012
LG's Magic Remote enables voice control for its smart TVs
Intel and LG deal brings WiDi streaming to HDTVs without the dongle
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.
Hands-on Toshiba's 55-inch 4K glasses-free 3DTV
Toshiba's 55-inch 4K glasses-free 3DTV ships in the US early this year, can we borrow $10k?
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.
Vizio ultrawidescreen, Google TV and Cinema 3D HDTV hands-on
Vizio tops accessories off with two Google TV-powered players
Vizio's CES 2012 HDTV lineup includes 3D, Google TV and ultrawidescreen... again
Other HD coverage from the CES that was:
Ceton previews multi-room DVR and Echo extender (hands-on)
Updated TiVo Netflix, YouTube interfaces and iPad streaming hands-on
Boxee Box Live TV dongle hands-on (video)
Roku Streaming Stick hands-on
Roku unveils Streaming Stick, squeezes box into MHL dongle
Dish Network announces Hopper DVR system, Joey set-top box, launches broadband, Test Drive services
Dish Network Hopper DVR and Joey extender hands-on
Dish Hopper multi-room DVR in action (video)
The Engadget Interview: Google TV Product Manager Rishi Chandra at CES 2012 (video)
OnLive Viewer comes to Google TV, full gameplay capability coming soon
Marvell shows off ARM-powered Google TV, looks a lot like Google TV
Google TV adds LG to the fold, will demo new hardware along with Sony, Vizio (update: video, pics!)
Google TV officially switching to ARM, Marvell Armada 1500 CPU to lead the charge