CES in Depth: New TV techRafe talks with David Katzmaier and Ty Pendlebury about OLED, Plasma, LED, 4k, 8k, and other HDTV technologies.
Speaker: I reviewed the first OLED TV to hit the market in the US a few years ago that was in Sony, that was 11 inches. Speaker: That was...I saw that one introduced. It was this thin and it was like a technology demonstrator but this LG machine is for real. Speaker:Yeah well you know that's not a TV, this is a TV and the real coolness is that you know you get this great picture quality but you also get incredible dimensions. So LG is talking about a 1 mm bezel which is the thinnest possible I think. So it's pretty much all picture, the most compact you can get from a 55 inch TV. It's also what I'm told 7.6 kg. So math, math, math. Hey I don't know how much that is but like 17 lbs something like that. Speaker: We do a lot of lifting televisions in and out of boxes. So that's gonna help us. Speaker: Just as a side note I was at the Sharp press conference and they said one of their big focus is going to be making their televisions lighter which I can really appreciate. I mean you gotta move these things around. Speaker: Well I guess you know these seem like infant hazards. You know for example people have to attach their TV to the unit so their children don't knock them over. So having a lighter TV I don't know if that's more dangerous or less dangerous. Speaker: Well as a manufacturer it's also a lot cheaper to ship those things. So everybody wins and from you know... unless you're getting free shipping from Amazon it really doesn't matter. Speaker: Now Ty there's another new technology that's being talked about. I think it's Sony showing this one. It's called... what is it, Crystal... Speaker: Crystal display I believe it is. It's essentially what you see at the bicycle games, you know the huge screens that they show the plays on, shrunk them into a 55 inch television. That seems to be the magical number this year, 55. So essentially it's little LEDs, similar to what you get behind in LCD TV but they are actually used to display the... the picture similar to OLED as well. Speaker: So I think we need a little technology refresher here because we are sold all the time at the stores, oh this is an LED TV... tell us the difference between an LED TV and an LED TV. Speaker: So LED TVs that we know are actually... it's a marketing ploy... So it's just using LEDs like you'd get... on the power buttons of your television for example, it's used to light the screen itself because LCD doesn't emit its own light like you got in a digital watch. You actually have to press a button to get the thing to display but in LED TV is actually using those LEDs as the picture, as the pixels. So there's 6 million LEDs in this television... micro... micro size... and it's going to be expensive if it ever comes to market... Speaker: Oh you think there's a chance it won't. Speaker: Absolutely. You know they're pushing it as a prototype which I don't think Sony has done in a long time. Speaker: Yeah these TVs... it's basically a CES kind of, you know, come check us out thing. They haven't talked about marketing this thing off. They're really, really expensive and we just add an OLED and we just mentioned... the OLEDs are actually shipping Samsung and LG both, you know, assure as that they're gonna come out with all these 55 inch OLED TVs by the end of the year. LG says, you know, 3rd quarter and Samsung would probably be around in as well. Speaker: Now when... I just got a new TV and before I did, I talked to the guys at CNET about what kind of TV I should get and they said get a plasma set. Now there's only 1 or 2 vendors I think actually making plasmas but one of those being Panasonic and they're not stepping away from this technology. Is that right? Why is plasma still a thing at Panasonic? Speaker: Well, main reason we like Plasma TVs... a couple of things. They have excellent screen uniformity so they have even brightness across the screen. They're also superb from off angles. So as I was explaining with the LCDs you have this backlight issue where they shine through to the LCD and it actually makes the picture be less fidelity from the angles... Speaker: Kind of fussy. Speaker: Yeah you miss out on a lot of fidelity when you set at extreme angles, plasma doesn't have that problem. So that's one of the couple of reasons why we like them. They also have... on a lot of the high end plasmas like the Panasonics we really like last year. They give excellent black level forms as well. So Panasonic's plasmas again I saw those this morning in person and they look really good. They're talking about how they've improved a lot of their picture quality aspects. Deeper blacks, brighter color and addressing one of the bugaboos of plasma which is energy efficiency. So, you know, all of these things are supposed to be better for the 2012... Panasonic line and I called the ST30 from last year, the best value I've ever seen... pretty much in terms of picture quality for the money they're gonna spend. It's an excellent bargain and I think plasma's gonna continue (??). Speaker: What I can see happening is that OLED's gonna come up like this and plasma's gonna go down like this. You'll see LCD start to fill up the lower... under a thousand dollars. Maybe some budget plasmas as well but OLEDs probably in 2015, 2016 company's like LG is saying that it's gonna be the same price as an LCD. Speaker: So you think that OLED will take up the mantle as the high end where plasma is right now. Speaker: Absolutely. Speaker: Plasma will eventually finally make its exit? Speaker: I think so. I think it's a kind of technology that's probably on the back end of its life span, I mean at the end of the day plasma's still gonna give you the best picture you can buy right now without spending $8,000 which is I think these OLEDs are gonna cost. So that's still like a really really high end technology. As to I was saying you know they're expecting it to come down pretty fast and there's a lot of impetus to do that because again you get the lighter screens you get the smaller size and you give people a chance to buy another TV. Speaker: Now we're looking here at... TVs for the next year or 2 but just for the moment, let's say that somebody is looking for a TV today in the sweet spot which I guess is about 46 to 55 inches. What technology would you recommend and what's about the price point for really good display, good value. Speaker: You can get excellent values, I would say the value price point start at a $100,000 for 50 inch and up screen size. So you know that's where these... some of the better LCD and plasmas are hovering right now like I was talking about with that Panasonic ST30, a thousand dollars, that's actually got down to $900 for a 50 inch that we gave an 8 in performance too which is excellent and you know one of the best pictures we've seen. So that's a pretty good combination right there. Speaker: But I would actually wait for this year's TVs to come out. If you're... you can always wait, you know... you know, in 6 months there's gonna be another TV. You know it's an unending cycle. So if you're looking for a TV now, probably February when these models are going out, the ones we're going to see at this show start coming in, you'll gonna see really cheap TVs, really good TVs. So I'll wait for this year's technology if you'll need a TV right now. Speaker: That's good 'cause I just bought one and... this is just I hope I didn't feel bad about. Speaker: This is for you Rafe. Speaker: Thank you so much. Speaker: Now... speaking of weird stuff that's going in to TVs... We've got 4 different display technologies. We've got plasma OLED, crystal LED, regular OLED LCD, actually there's more... the different ways they like that with the old tubes. I guess the tubes are gone, edge lit and back lit... that's a lot of technology to sort out man. Speaker: Yeah and manufacturers are gonna make it clear to consumers they basically just say hey it's LED, we have a big (??) the 4 different types of LED back lights that are available now and that's actually a differentiator for videophiles who want the best picture quality out of their LED based LCD TVs. It's good to know the differences but you know there's still a lot of stuff out there I think that some manufacturers do thrive on that confusion. People just go, screw it, I'm gonna buy you know whatever is expensive. Speaker: Hence our jobs. Manufacturers thank you very much for being confusing. Please keep it up so we can continue to explain things in ways they can understand it. Thank you. Now Panasonic in addition to being in a hold out with plasmas also you said they have a dual core TV... Speaker: This is so crazy, you know, we went through the whole... dual core is the savior of computing and then it went into our phones last year and now it's in our televisions, next year it's gonna be juicers. Speaker: In our juicers. Speaker: Yeah. Speaker: Okay. Speaker: Android juicers... Now essentially what... Speaker: I would pass them. Speaker: They've tried the 3Ds really amazing, they've tried the... it's got 60% more black which doesn't really mean anything. So they're going forward the technology angle they're going for. Okay let's put a dual core processor but actually what it's doing is that because there's so much technology in there, you get a lot of different things like Netflix, having a dual core actually makes that sort of process a lot smoother. Speaker: So do we... so we want our big displays to be basically computers. Speaker: Essentially, yeah. Speaker: How long until they... we get Android TV, will we have Google TV? Speaker: We do, yeah. Speaker: We have right now. It's not very good. Speaker: Lenovo announced one a couple of days ago. An Android TV. Speaker: And a couple of manufacturers are still doing Google TV. LG is actually coming up with their Google TV... in the next couple of months... Samsung hasn't talked about Google TV but I think they will do Vizio. Even said you know they're gonna push their Google TV to follow this year. So those things are out there, you know, I don't know whether or not people actually want them or enjoy them. We were just talking backstage and it sounds like the actual apps built into the TV are not that satisfying for you Rafe and at the end of the day you can just add a Roku. Speaker: I am unsatisfied. Yes. Speaker: Just add a Roku and it's $50 and you get the same thing and it's... you know, you don't have to worry about it. Speaker: Is there anybody make a really good monitor that's just a display panel that says you can put in your signal and we're not gonna junk it up with all of these apps which we really don't know how to make interfaces for? Speaker: The last thing that really did that was the (Pioneer Kuros?) like 3 years ago. They went for (out and out?) picture quality but the problem was that people didn't but it because they didn't want... (what was?) an Australian TV $11,000. They didn't wanna spend... it didn't have features. They want big screen, they want cheap and you can't really sell a high end TV in this market anymore which is a shame. Speaker: Yeah because the upgrade cycle is mixed up. I mean the display technology that you get today will be good for another maybe 5 years maybe 10 but you know if you buy a dual core plasma display or a dual core anyhing right now, that's gonna be obsolete in 18 months on the outside technologically. Speaker: Most of the readers that I talked to are completely unconcerned about those sorts of things. They want the picture quality first and foremost, you know, all these extras that manufacturers add in are a little less relevant. I think to answer your question, you know, guys can't do it, they can build these... you know these TVs with just the monitor only because they're competing directly on a spec sheet by spec sheet basis with other manufacturers and they all have stuff built in. So the market really isn't there and guys, you know, if you have 6-1/2 (??) you look at two TVs and one is a complete monitor, and you have to take the manufacturer's word for it that its picture quality is excellent unless it's significantly less expensive, there's really no... for that and of course the flip side of that is these TVs are... the expensive ones are, you know, the ones that have the best picture qualities. So you know they throw in these extra features that doesn't cost too much to throw in, dual core and all that stuff into these TVs. Speaker: Now there is one vendor that we haven't talked about I'm gonna here it from here at the show when it comes to television and that's Apple. Is it possible that the reason that all these smart functions going into TVs is the people are trying to get out in front of Apple and when Apple comes along and... with their whatever it is television if they do, do you think they'll kind of eat the lunch of everybody's who is building apps in? Speaker: I'm so sick of hearing about this Apple TV. This mythical television... The thing is we've got an Apple TV now. It's on the show floor. It's Samsung. It's LG to some extent, we've got these features now and what we can... you know imagine's gonna happen in the future is happening now. We've got... even (Kinect?), if you got an Xbox you can still do those functions. So, I don't think it's worth waiting for an Apple TV... You know if you want that sort of functionality which is still fairly be the... as far as you know being able to be sold in the marketplace... Yeah you can get it now. Don't wait for 3 years. Speaker: I think Rafe one of the things that is a little conspiracy going around right now is the reason why these manufacturers Samsung and LG are pushing out 55 inch OLED is because that is the display technology of the Apple TV... you know, according to rumor, gonna be using. So Apple is not gonna release a TV that entire (??) that's is really near. They're not gonna release a TV that has mediocre picture quality. They're gonna go for something that has really good picture quality. So the thinking is if they do that, it's gonna be OLED, it's gonna be wow. I said when people look at OLED TVs it is wow. You know, you're like wow that really... that picture really does look better than what I have at home or what I've seen before. So if you're... if you're Apple, you want that. Speaker: Yeah, now one of the things we haven't talked about is something that definitely is out ahead of the curve in terms if technology and that is the 4K display technology which we're hearing about from a couple of vendors... What is 4K? What does that mean to the buyer? Speaker: What was that (America?) that came out a couple of years ago? Blade Runner. They actually rereleased a digital print that was in 4K. So it's essentially 4,000 pixels by about 2,000 pixels. Essentially it's a cinema format. So you've got... A lot of the digital films, a lot of 3D films are actually shown in the cinema in 4K. So what they're trying to do is sort of shoehorn that into a consumer television for no real reason unless you've got a cinema sized room in your house you don't really need 4K. What it is useful for is dividing in 2. So you actually get full HD passive 3D technology. So that's the only real reason... Speaker: So when you go see a movie, a digital movie, that's mostly... that's in 4K today. Speaker: Right. Speaker: So again it's for the big screen sizes and like Ty said the ability to get rid of a passive TV right now is basically half resolution on 3D. So what LG told me is that they're actually... you can get full HD resolution to both eyes if you're looking at this passive display... with 4K resolution. So that's 1 little selling point but at the end of the day these are... again... you're not gonna get any content that's 2D 4K for the near future. Speaker: Yeah and I heard about... where was it, Sharp, was talking about 8K. 8K, so 8K has I think about... the same amount of content for the consumer that is available as 4K which is to say, none. Speaker: If you can get the master disks of Blade Runner maybe you can watch 4K all day but... Speaker: Would there be any visual... a visible difference between 4K and 8K? Are we down to that... what Steve Jobs called the retina display where that's the limit of our resolution. Speaker: It's really hard to see a difference for a lot of people between 720p and 1080p. So you know when you start talking about these resolutions that are 4 times, 8 times as high as that, it's really no pay off unless you want a gigantic screen or sitting impossibly close to the set. Speaker: Hey we gotta wrap up and there's 1 thing we didn't talked about because I hate it which is 3D. So really briefly, the state of 3D here at CES, did people forgot about it, is it gonna be back next year or what's going on with 3D? Speaker: It's gonna be a function. It's gonna be something you have, I don't know if they have Teletechs here, I'm an Australian, but Teletech is a feature... just like a tick box and 3D is gonna be the same. I can see passive really taking off. People don't wanna pay extra for glasses. If you get 6 pairs in the box, that's good, and so you can watch a 3D movie once a year maybe. So you're gonna be paying for 3D TVs anyway... but I think passive is the way to go. Speaker: It's one of those features that comes along with it. All right. So for more great TV coverage check out CNET.com... and stay tuned. What's coming out next? The 404 is coming up next. Ty Pendlebury from CNET. David Katzmaier from CNET. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rafe Needleman. See you later.