After a full day roaming the Consumer Electronics Show floor, I have to say the most mind-blowing thing I saw was the dual-view and 3D high-definition technology called DLP, made by Texas Instruments. This technology is being rolled out in Mitsubishi and Samsung televisions.
These are not flat-screen models, but thicker projection TVs. I was initially stopped in my tracks by the amazing image on a 73-inch model. They showed Shrek on the demo reel, and I have to say, the detail in the animation was incredible. I could see the sugar crystals sparkling on the Gingerbread Man's gumdrops. (They also showed Transformers, and it was very manly and explosive. Looked good too. DLP has a very fast refresh rate, so it is well-suited for action.)
Computer-animated films are rendered in three dimensions, making them an ideal candidate for 3D movie transformation. I saw a demo on the DLP set, using special 3D discs of Beowulf, Meet the Robinsons, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the viewing experience was awe-inspiring. You felt like you were about to be drawn into the picture. The set can render two complete HD images simultaneously and flawlessly, and the images are picked up and separated by special wireless 3D glasses.
This enables two totally separate images to be presented at the same time, which can be viewed either as 3D (A image right eye, B image left eye) or two different views presented on the same set at the same time (one person sees the A image in both eyes, the other sees B in both eyes). One obvious application is for video games; if two people are playing a driving game, they can each see their own car, or switch views back and forth.
The less obvious but technically intriguing application is that two people could be watching totally separate programs that are simultaneously displayed. With the glasses and earbud audio, you could have two people watching Grey's Anatomy and a football playoff game at the same time on the same set.
That's some truly mind-blowing technology. I am not sure what this means for family togetherness, sitting on the same couch watching two separate programs, but it could help resolve some sticky situations when competition for the remote control arises.
(Note: The CES convention is so huge that I only had time to check out the DLP area and I was therefore unable to compare it to other LCD and plasma displays. But perhaps my admiration will provide some ammunition for home theater enthusiasts who want to convince their spouse that this really is a step beyond "regular" TV.)