CES 2009 wrap-up: What killed in the monitor category

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Eric Franklin Former Editorial Director
Eric Franklin led the CNET Tech team as Editorial Director. A 20-plus-year industry veteran, Eric began his tech journey testing computers in the CNET Labs. When not at work he can usually be found at the gym, chauffeuring his kids around town, or absorbing every motivational book he can get his hands on.
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Eric Franklin
2 min read

If you've been keeping up with my monitor blog posts from CES 2009, there's one term you've probably heard tossed around more any other: "Full HD."

Samsung's LED-based 2370L is more than a little easy on the eyes. Eric Franklin/CBS Interactive

Yes, Full HD was the buzzword for monitors this year. Full HD basically means a monitor has a 16:9 aspect ratio screen--as opposed to a 16:10--and either supports 1920x1080 (1080p) resolution natively or is at least compatible. All of the monitor vendors I covered this year had either their full lineup moving to 16:9 or at least the majority of it.

The reason for moving to Full HD is that monitors can then display 1080p content, like movies and broadcast sports, without requiring the be stretched or shrunken to fit the screen.

The second trend I noticed was more a lack of a trend. Of the vendors I covered, Samsung and Dell were the only vendors to debut new monitors with LED backlights. This surprised me, as the industry has been hyping LED backlight for the last year at least as the next big thing.

Going into CES green was already the new black, out now it seems we are approaching the pinnacle as far as green thinking goes. Dell launched a new line of eco-conscious monitors, and LG showed off how much power you can save from going green.

I first started hearing about stereoscopic monitors last year and I finally got to see them in action last week. Both Samsung and Viewsonic showed off their 120Hz stereoscopic displays. Through the use of 3D glasses--and a few other requirements--stereoscopic screens make 3D games to get, well more 3D.

What you actually see, though, is an enhanced depth perception, where the background looks further away and the foreground looks closer. Kind of delivering on the promise of old "3D" movies like The Creature from the Black Lagoon 3-D. And yes, I'm still bitter. The stereoscopic displays are probably the ones I'm looking forward to the most to test of the next couple months.

Thanks to Samsung, you'll be able to connect your monitor to your laptop via wireless. Eric Franklin/CBS Interactive

As for overall innovation, the title of winner has to go to Samsung. It had by far the most eclectic mix of monitors on display. With its stereoscopic screen monitor, an LED monitor that actually takes advantage of the technology, monitors built for laptops that even work wirelessly and other more aesthetic things like sparkling crystal necks. Bottom line: it's difficult to make monitors exciting, but Samsung was at least taking some chances with display technology.

The last trend has nothing really to do with monitors, but more with vendors themselves. They were branching out. Viewsonic announced a Netbook, an all-in-one PC, and the PC that attaches itself to monitors.

BenQ also has an all-in-one PC coming that's targeted at seniors and children and the first projector that can run solely from a USB thumb drive.

While this year's showing wasn't great for monitors, there were just enough innovations to keep me excited (and working) til mid year at least.