CES 2008 HDTV wrap-up

We wrap up the biggest trends in HDTV technology at CES, from ultrathin screen to OLED to green-friendly TVs.

Hitachi's LCDs are just 1.5 inches thick. Hitachi

The whirlwind of CES 2008 is finally over, and now that we've had a few seconds to gather our thoughts, let's reflect on some of the major HDTV trends we observed at the show.

Thin is in

Flat-panels are popular for a reason, and part of it is people love thin screens. While plenty of people are satisfied with standard 6-inch-deep screens, HDTV companies are betting there's a market for ultrathin sets measured in millimeters rather than inches. The most impressive thin TV tech we saw was Pioneer's "Project Kuro" prototype plasma , which measures only 9mm thin, but unfortunately won't be released in 2008. On the more conventional side, JVC announced the "world's thinnest" LCD --coming in at 2.9 inches deep--while LG showed off an even thinner 1.9-inch thick LCD with a hole in it . Trumping both JVC and LG was Hitachi, with its new superslim LCDs measuring only 1.5-inches thick--although they ditch an internal ATSC tuner to do so. And, of course, no mention of thin HDTV would be complete without OLED...

Sony's 11-inch OLED is coming to the states this year. Sony

OLED is coming

Sony made a big splash by showing off the 11-inch XEL-1 , which will be the first OLED HDTV available in the United States and measures just 3mm thick. Samsung also had a 31-inch prototype OLED on display and there's no doubt the OLED technolgy is promising: razor thin screens, low power consumption and an excellent contrast ratio. At this early point in the game OLED isn't commercially viable--Sony's 11-inch set will cost $2,500--but as prices drop and screen sizes increase, OLED could be a major flat-panel TV technology.

WebTV all over again?

Bringing the web to your TV sounds like an idea better suited to CES 1995 rather than CES 2008, but we saw a lot of HDTV manufacturers promoting their sets' ability to grab content off the internet. HP, which has been a step ahead of everyone in this regard, announced an update to its existing MediaSmart HDTVs . Sharp is promising the ability to check weather and stock quotes on certain LCDs , while Samsung is focusing on recipes, artwork and RSS feeds . And Sony is continuing to support its Bravia Internet Video Link service , which at least looks slightly more interesting now that Sony's announced a deal with CBS .

RPTV is (mostly) dead

Mitsubishi's trio of laser TVs hang on the wall. Mitsubishi

Some of the biggest HDTV news at CES 2008 was what wasn't there. Rear-projection HDTVs (RPTVs) were basically nowhere to be seen on the show floor, and just a week before CES started Sony announced that it would officially stop producing RPTVs altogether. While the general buzz is that RPTVs are essentially dead, that didn't stop Mitsubishi from launching a big laser TV demo --which was short on details and did little to convince us that laser has a real shot to dismount flat panels as the dominant HDTV technology.

The 42PFL5630D uses less power than any 42-inch LCD we've seen. Philips

Green machines

While we were expecting to see more green HDTVs this year, we're betting Philips is in front of the curve on power-saving TV tech. The power-savings innovations on the Philips' Eco TV was enough to earn it CNET's Best in Show award and it uses less power than any other 42-inch LCD we've tested. In addition to using less watts, the Eco TV is produced using only lead-free materials and "trace" amounts of mercury. With a very reasonable $1,400 price tag, the Eco TV could be a big hit with consumers looking to control their energy costs--and if so, we'll see more green TVs from other companies.


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