Here I am, witnessing the next generation of High Definition home entertainment at CES 2009. Every year, major manufacturers (Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, LG, etc.) flock to Las Vegas to strut their wares. They hope to give us, the consumers, a glimpse of their marvelous future.
Now is our chance to see who is on the ball with next generation technologies, who stumbled and who churned out more of the same but labeled it with more creative-mumbo-jumbo-advertising-slogans. Who would have the most innovative technologies? Who would eclipse DVRs by embedding Solid State Drives into their flat panel displays? Who would have the thinnest TV? Who would break ground on the much fabled 2 way cable card? My head was swimming with possibilities as I entered the Las Vegas Convention center and beheld the future of High Def home entertainment.
I have reached the peak of innovation. Samsung has managed to bundle all emerging technology trends. First off, let me say that ALL of their televisions have gotten thinner.
Samsung is doing it all this year: LCDs and Plasmas, of course. LED backlit LCDs. Even a 50” OLED display. Admittedly, the OLED is just a demonstration of their capabilities; its not consumer price-ready yet. Extra emphasis on thinner panels.
Samsung showed off a 50 inch OLED display, but admittedly, was no where near price maturity. The price would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars and that is cost-prohibitive to mass-produce for the consumer level. This is one of those cases where a company produces something simply for the sake of producing it.
Samsung has an Internet capable television that accesses Yahoo Widgets which turns your TV into a browser for some of the more vital areas of the internet that you set up for your use. This TV does not have an actual web browser, but when the picture is enlarged, you can clearly see the sources of information it draws upon: USA Today, Youtube.com, and Yahoo news. Best of all, you can customize your TV desktop to display information relevant to you.
This internet-ready TV also happens to have a super-slim build, which I was very impressed with.
Samsung has 2 models (probably a Plasma and an LCD) with 2-way cable cards. I was prohibited from photographing them, but the people at Samsung gave me a thorough explanation on their features. The 2-way cable card TVs access Pay Per View content, On-Demand content and a full range of guide features. This sort of interactive technology was not available to 2008 edition “one way” cable cards. The folks at Samsung assured me that their 2 way cable-card TVs will definitely be out this year. They are finalizing specifications with Cable Labs as well as manufacturing them (both the TVs and the cards) in a way that will require professional installation from the cable companies.
Apparently, it is very easy to insert a 2 way cable card into a television. It is similar to inserting a memory card into a digital camera. The difficult part is configuring the network pathways and accessing the advanced features. It’s just not do-able for a consumer. You will have to have a cable technician come and install it. Having said that, I was totally blown away with Samsung. They are becoming the go-to company when it comes to high definition displays.