The annual International Consumer Electronics Show is all about trends, as opposed to actual product announcements complete with pricing, model numbers, and "click here to buy!" buttons. This year we're sure to see a few new trends join those old standbys from yesteryear--and the year before that and the year before that--so here's a quick rundown of what to expect from high-definition displays at CES 2008.
TV manufacturers have to find some way to shave profits from ever-more-commoditized products, and one of the best ways is to introduce a whole new technology. OLED is one of those new techs, promising super-thin housing (is 5 inches too thick?), super-high contrast ratios, and correspondingly "super" profits. Expect medium screen sizes and very high prices for the first generation to sell in the U.S.
Frickin' laser TV
We first heard about Mitsubishi's laser-powered DLP in mid-March, but you'll hear more about it at CES this year. The real question is, with big flat panels falling in price, how long before rear-projection HDTVs, especially high-end ones, become extinct?
LED backlights are back
Been there, done that, but in 2008 you'll see more LCD models that use LED backlights, probably led by Samsung, which has a generation under its belt already.
Sure 120Hz provides some other esoteric benefits, but its real impact among 2007 HDTVs with the technology was in smoothing out motion by removing judder. Expect it to on nearly every mid- to high-end HDTV in 2008.
Gee, is that 3D?
A smattering of DLP-based HDTVs in 2007 supported 3D add-on kits, which included glasses that gave an extra dimension to PC sources. At the 2008 show, more manufacturers might jump onboard and migrate the technology to flat panels, and maybe some more compelling 3D content will become available.
Powerful energy savings
As the popularity of our Quick Guide to TV power consumption can attest, people are starting to care about how much energy their HDTVs use. In 2008 we expect more marketing and features aimed at green-conscious HDTV buyers.
"Mine's even bigger than yours!"
The custom-built, major-media-attracting, triple-digit-size plasma and LCD television has become a staple at many TV makers' booths in the past. We're laying Vegas odds that somebody breaks the 150-inch barrier this year.
Of course, we're always hoping for surprises at the show to keep the HDTV category interesting and give us something else to write about. Check out our full coverage of HDTV developments for all the latest buzz.
Where are they now?
We chose Samsung's wireless plasma as the best HDTV of CES 2007, and the thing finally came out at the end of the year after a brief delay. We haven't had the chance to review it yet, but we're confident the "wireless" (hey, you still have to plug in the power) trend for HDTVs will grow in the future--at least one other manufacturer is offering a wireless model at this year's show. In case you're wondering, the two other 2007 nominees for the HDTV category, the Vizio VM60PHDTV and the JVC HD-S998 series, turned in middling performances at best in our lab tests. Notably, most of the year's top HDTVs, including the Pioneer PDP-5080HD, the Sony KDL-46XBR4, and the Samsung LN-T4681F, were not announced at CES. The closest the show came to any actual "announcement" of an eventual top 2007 HDTV was the sneak preview we got from Pioneer, and unlike many such previews we've attended, that one presaged a real breakthrough.