CES 2013 Coverage

Avical is at CES 2013 attending press conferences, meeting with product managers, and getting a behind the scenes look at the latest consumer electronics technology. On January 7, press day kicks off with the majors LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony holding their respective press events.

Stay tuned for the latest updates on what we really can expect from this years products from the prospective of your trusted professional technologists.


News from LG

As expected LG announced their 84″ UltraHDTV , (4k panel), also available in 65″ and 55″ sizes. LG claims they will be shipping this month in Korea, and March in the US. LG also announced all displays going forward will be LEDs, not surprising but notable.

LG showcased what they are calling the worlds first curved display, of course Samsung also claims to have the worlds first which they also had on display, and we will just let them figure out who was first to the bottom in what is sure to be a niche product for enthusiasts with $$.


The theme at LG seems to be the same with every manufacturer at CES, interactive TV, a UI they hope will draw the family away from their android and iOS mobile devices and back to the TV with some of the same apps in a larger format. Too early to tell how it will pan out, but it seems like the older crowd finds it more appealing. they even has the first SIMs game that you can control from your LG smartphone. It seemed to be quick and responsive but another questionable move, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.


Panasonic Press Event

Panasonic is continuing the trend with smart TVs by attempting to merge the mobile, Internet, and traditional display experience. “Smart Viera TV or my Home TV” is the theme for over the top applications as Panasonic has announced they have joined the Smart TV Alliance and will be developing an SDK for developers to use for applications that will end up in the marketplace. It is clear Panasonic is trying to merge the broadcast and interactive online experience through the TV. They demonstrated a HSN live broadcast with interactive features through a shop by remote feature that allows access to interactive content, catalogs, and reviews which allows one to purchase direct from your remote. This is an interesting experiment by HSN and Panasonic which will certainly be challenging to capture the online shoppers.

On to displays, 32 new this year, including 16 Plasmas, and 16 LCD LED backlit displays for 2013. Limited discussion around the displays at the Press conference, which is unusual for Panasonic, a big disappointment for many of the videophiles expecting details. Not to worry, Avical will be getting a tour with the product manager later this week and we will have the details.

Panasonic gave us a demo of their my Home TV product, the UI they hope will take off and pull the family back to the set. They are using face recognition to load each members profile and customized apps, think of it as a Xbox lite interface without the stability, the seamless interface, and the ability for complete motion control. Overall the system was pretty slow and buggy, with a reboot required, but hey if your use to Microsoft Windows then that should be a problem, it’s a prototype with updates to come before and after release.


Now onto the really cool stuff, yes they still make Plasmas, and this year the VT series is blacker than last year with an upgraded processor and filter. It gets better though as Panasonicintroduced the ZT model which is surely to please the most critical viewers with its inky deep blacks. We will reserve judgement on just how black it is until we get in the lab, but looking at the side by side comparison in the dark room, it looked significantly darker compared to last years VT50 which was considered the best HDTV out there by many of the professional calibrators. It also won the infamous HDTV Gurus’s Best HDTV award, gotta love how this award is given out each year based on a prototype with no critical evaluation done.


What about OLED? Yes Panasonic did not disappoint with their 56″ 4k OLED using their proprietary inject printing technology to create the panel. Rumors were swirling about if they would even show the panel, and they did deliver. Now they are being quiet about whether this will be an actual shipping product this year, but there is some rumblings that we could see it hit the market in 2013 at a comparable price point since yields are better than the competition.

I think we can put to rest the rumors that Panasonic is exiting the TV business in 2013. Yes they are changing direction, but they still have a significant market share in the pro line and they deliver one of the best HDTVs every year.


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