Ah, CES. The annual exposition where TV makers the world over congregate to show off their newest stuff. And "show" is the operative word.
Before we get into the flat, square sets introduced at the show, I'll begin at LG's booth with some eye candy. The "curve of nature" is a sight to behold.
It consists of 260 55-inch OLED TVs, curved into a massive, undulating wall structure and playing nature scenes.
Meanwhile LG Display arranged a quartet of curved OLED TVs displaying flowers into The Rose.
So yes, OLED TVs can flex and curve and look great in demos, but does that have any practical use?
Turns out flexible OLED does have a practical use. This is LG's rollable OLED TV, and it's going on sale in 2019. No price yet though.
The screen itself rolls down into a piece of furniture. It's wild.
When it powers up, a little door on the top slides back to let the screen emerge.
Here's the screen part way up.
Full extended from the back. The flexible OLED material is affixed to a series of horizontal slats raised and lowered by a pair of bars.
LG also debuted another first at CES 2019: its first 8K OLED TV, in a massive 88-inch size.
8K resolution promises improved detail compared to 4K, but in our experience you have to be pretty close to appreciate it.
The 88-inch 8K set comes with an integrated stand. No, it can't be wall-mounted.
Here it is at LG's booth. The combination of OLED's superb image quality and an 88-inch screen is really impressive.
LG will also release an LCD-based 8K TV, this 75-inch model that bears the new "NanoCell" name.
It looks nice enough, but compared to that OLED it doesn't quite stand up. Of course, it will likely cost much, much less.
LG also redesigned its 4K OLED line again, adding a sleek glass base to the E9.
New for 2019, LG's TVs build in both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
LG debuted the HU85L short-throw laser projector that can fill a 120-inch screen from just 7 inches away.
The projector responds to voice commands spoken into the remote's mic and has a built-in audio system.
LG's arch-rival is Samsung, and Sammy don't do OLED. Its answer is MicroLED, a very promising display technology that promises even better picture quality than OLED. It uses millions of tiny inorganic LEDs to make an image.
But MicroLED is not ready for the market, in part because it's tough to get all those LEDs small enough. Samsung's more living-room friendly 75-inch size at 4K resolution is an achievement.
MicroLED is modular and scalable, meaning it can also get really, really big.
Big enough to show K-pop stars at larger than life size.
No word on the cost of a 219-inch TV, but for this much bling, who cares?!
To get down to 75 inches, Samsung improved how many individual pixels it packed onto each module.
Did I mention it's modular? Here's MicroLED "TVs" arranged into different shapes.
Samsung introduced the first 8K TV in the US in late 2018, and it's bringing it in different sizes this year.
If 85 inches isn't big enough for you, Samsung hopes you'll spring for the 98-inch version. No pricing but I wouldn't be surprised if it cost $50,000.
Too rich for your blood? Like the ones that already exist in the UK and Europe, Samsung put up its smaller 8K TVs up for pre-order. The 65-inch costs $5,000, the 75-inch $7,000 and the 82-inch $10,000.
Since there's no 8K content, the TV relies on upscaling 4K to the screen's resolution. Samsung's upscaling uses AI.
The benefits of the higher resolution will likely be less visible at smaller screen sizes, unless you sit very close.
Seen from the side, the TV looks like a serif-font "I."
Also available in black.
The Frame is a TV that can look like wall art. This wall arrangement, with actual TVs interspersed with paintings, takes full advantage.
Sony isn't going to miss the 8K party, introducing two sizes of Master Series high-end LCDs. They're huge, For reference, I'm 6 foot 3.
Like LG and Samsung, Sony also talks up its processing. And like Samsung's LCD, the Z9G is equipped with full-array local dimming.
It's also extremely bright.
Another extra on the Master Series is improved sound, with speakers above and below the screen that attempt to localize the audio better.
The stand is also friggin' metal.
Sony also introduced new OLED TVs. They're very similar to the current Master Series, but the design is more traditional, and a 77-inch size is available.
Instead of the current sets' kickstand design, the A9G is as thin as other OLEDs.
The foot stand is kinda cute.
Sony has also improved the Acoustic Surface screen, again, with the aim of making sound that closely tracks on-screen movement.
The fourth entrant in the 8K game is TCL, which will come out with the first 8K Roku TV later this year. This isn't the final design...
...but at least they got the logo right.
Not to be outdone by Samsung, TCL also showed a concept MicroLED display at its booth. It's smaller, but still has 24,000,000 individual LEDs, high contrast and wide color gamut. No word on whether TCL will try to bring it to market.
Also spotted at TCL's booth: curved TVs. Not even Samsung's booth has those anymore. Like most of the TVs in TCL's booth, they're intended for the Chinese domestic market and probably won't be coming to the US anytime soon.
TCL was also showing a TV said to evoke the "luxury and glamour of the early '20s." Exactly how is unclear.
Hisense is another big Chinese TV company trying to take market share US is Hisense. It introduced a bunch of new TVs for 2019, complete with actual pricing and availability -- a rarity at CES.
On paper this set looks like a rival to TCL's 6 series, with similar specifications and a lower price. Shipping "later in 2019" the 55-inch size costs $600 and the 65 an aggressive $750.
Available only in a 75-inch size for $3,500 this June, the U9F is Hisense's best TV announced for 2019 in the US. It has a whopping 1,000-plus local dimming zones and 2,200 nits of peak brightness.
Hisense has been making short-throw laser projectors for awhile, and its newest version uses an RGB laser arrangement to achieve higher brightness and almost full Rec 2020 color. A version with two lasers is coming to the US market.
The most impressive TV Vizio showed off is this 85-inch P-Series Quantum X, which promises a searing 2,900 nits of brightness. This size might not ship this year, however.
More modest 65- and 75-inch versions of the series will ship, however, with 384 and 480 zones, respectively. Given how much I liked the 2018 P-Series Quantum, I expect great things.
Moving down in picture quality and price, the non-"X" P-Series Quantum comes in 65- and 75-inch sizes and offers a 120Hz refresh rate and up to 240 dimming zones. Don't let the name fool you however; it has 1,000 nits peak brightness, more in line with the non-Quantum P-Series of 2018.
Even the mainstream M-Series gets quantum dots from Vizio in 2019, which addresses a big weakness of the 2018 version. They range from 43 to 65 inches and have up to 90 zones of local dimming and 600 nits peak light output.
That's it so far for the TVs of CES 2019. We'll leave you with more beautiful views of nature.