2013 CES: Television
Ultra HD resolution; second-screen control capabilities; smarter features; easier search and connectivity; broader choice of screen sizes; and slimmer, sleeker
designs characterized this year’s TV lines offered up by the major manufacturers.
Many of those features—higher-res screens and images; simple connectivity; faster and more powerful image and processing engines—also made their way into the manufacturers’ other devices, such as smartphones, camcorders and cameras.
Here’s a rundown of some of the product highlights showcased at CES.
Sony Keeps Its Focus
When Karou Hirai was named Sony CEO last year, he vowed to focus on four things: digital imaging, gaming, mobile, and turning around the company’s TV business. It was clear during Sony’s 2013 CES press conference that Hirai is sticking to his strategy.
The focus on key products and technologies—Ultra HD TVs and camcorders, connected cameras, a “super” smartphone, universal connectivity—was apparent by the lack of movie and music stars former CEO Howard Stringer liked to roll out in the past.
“We really wanted to show everyone the product as opposed to other things,”said Phil Molyneux, Sony’s president and COO. “It was about the beauty of 4K TVs, our advancements in digital imaging, and the simplicity of Sony One-touch.”
Sony added 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD TVs to its lineup (the XBR-65X900A and the XBR-55X900A, both scheduled for shipment this spring), which already included an 84-inch model launched late last year. The new models will carry a more affordable price tag, Molyneux said. Sometime this summer, Sony will launch a 4K distribution service that will work in conjunction with a dedicated 4K Media Player. The service will initially include about 10 4K native content movies. Sony executives would not provide further details.
The company also showed off a 56-inch prototype 4K OLED TV, which lost its picture during the press conference due to a pulled wire or a poorly timed content loop, Molyneux said. Sony also showed a prototype of a 4K camcorder. Pricing and availability for both products hasn’t been set.
Molyneux demonstrated a new TV SideView application that works as a universal remote on a tablet and allows consumers to view listings and operate applications on their TV. Sony also announced its Triluminous Display technology, which is designed to deliver truer blues, greens and reds. It will be available on select 2K and 4K TVs, Cyber-shot and Alpha cameras, and Handycams.
The Experia Z Smartphone
One of this year’s product highlights is Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone (launching in Q1), which features a 5-inch full 1080p HD screen, LTE, Android’s Jelly Bean OS, a Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core 1.5MHz processor, and a 13-megapixel camera. Tapping into its deep history of imaging technology, Sony added Exmor RS for mobile, an image sensor with High Dynamic Range (HDR) video that is designed to take sharper and more vibrant stills and videos, even in poorly lit or backlit conditions. The Xperia Z is dust and water resistant to a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes.
The Xperia Z can also take advantage of the new One-touch function Sony has incorporated into many of its 2013 products. Based on near field communication (NFC), One-touch is designed to wirelessly connect the smartphone to NFC-enabled devices—such as select BRAVIA TVS, a new line of Bluetooth speakers ($60-$299; March), a Blu-ray player, sound bar, other mobile devices, and Sony’s new Personal Content Station—for easily sharing, transferring and managing content.
The convergence of cameras with smartphones and tablets continued with the new Cyber-shot DSC-WX80 camera ($199; Jan.), designed to let consumers easily share images directly to a smartphone; and the competitively priced, ruggedly designed Cyber-shot DSC-TF1 ($199; Jan.). New Handycam models (HDR-PJ790V, HDR-PJ650V, and HDR-PJ430V) include a brighter built-in projector than earlier models and Wi-Fi capabilities.
One Screen is Not Enough for Samsung
Samsung displayed a host of products for 2013—including OLED and Ultra HD models—based on its philosophy of offering multiple choices in several form factors.
“People want more screens and convenience in devices,” said Samsung president Boo-Keun Yoon. “They need easier ways to find and enjoy content. And 80 percent of consumers want TVs that can be updated with the latest features.”
The company plans to market more devices to complement its Smart TV lines, and said it will add improved interface solutions that Tim Baxter, Samsung Electronics America president, said are designed for “harnessing the full power of those TVs.” He noted that Samsung shipped 66 million connected devices in the third quarter of 2012, “40 percent ahead of our nearest competitors.”
Samsung is rolling out an Evolution Kit—a “brain transplant for your TV,” as executive vice president Joe Stinziano put it—that brings Samung’s 2012 Smart TVs up to date with features from the 2013 models, such as the new flagship LED F8000 TV series, which is being offered in 46-, 55-, 60-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes.
One big interface change is the redesigned Smart Hub. It now includes a five-panel framework that organizes the user’s choices in live TV, movies/on demand, stored content, social media and Samsung Smart TV apps.
Another addition, S-recommendation technology, discovers patterns in various viewers’ TV watching habits, and tailors viewing recommendations based on those discoveries. The new sets also include advance Voice Interaction, which lets viewers verbally direct the TV to search for content. Samsung’s Motion Control technology has also been refined for 2013 for subtler viewer movements.
Samsung has added a multi-view feature to its 2013 55-inch OLED TV; it allows two people to watch HD content simultaneously wearing special glasses equipped with earbuds.
Samsung’s new 85-inch Ultra HD TV was also unveiled. It comes in a “floating screen” design with a 120-watt speaker array in its frame, and features HD-to-Ultra-HD conversion technology. The company also displayed a 110-inch Ultra HD set at its booth.
A highlight of the company’s tablet introductions was the 4G LTE Galaxy Note 10.1, which will be available through Verizon; it can run multiple apps side by side on a single screen.
LG Beefs up Ultra HD 4K Series, Adds
“Smarts” to All Lines
LG announced it will introduce a 55-inch OLED TV (55EM9700) to the U.S. market in March for an MSRP for between $10,000 and $12,000. The new OLEDs launched in Korea last month. The company will also add two new screen sizes – 55 and 65 inch – to its Ultra HD TV line, additional Google TV models and a 100-inch laser TV.
The company is marketing its entire 2013 product lineup under the slogan “Touch the Smart Life” in response to what LG CTO Dr. Scott Ahn said is a failure of other CE manufacturers to deliver smarter products that customers actually want. “For several years companies have been striving to make products smarter,” he said. “But have they really changed anyone’s life? LG is delivering the products that make life smarter.”
That means LG’s core product lines – including TVs, smartphones and appliances – will feature improved connectivity and more intuitive interfaces, Ahn said. In one example, LG showed off its “One Touch Connection” button, which is designed to easily connect mobile devices to smart TVs and appliances for wireless control and connectivity.
LG’s new Ultra HD TVs feature passive Cinema 3D, a 2.2 sound system with two 10W speakers and two 15W woofers, and a Smart TV ecosystem. Pricing and was not announced. The 100-inch Laser TV (Model: HECTO) features smart TV and digital TV capabilities. It includes a screen and an Ultra Short Throw (UST) projector that reproduces a full HD 1080p image. Besides the home theater market, it’s also aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses. The OLED TV measures 4 millimeters and about 22 pounds. All of LG’s smart TVs include an updated Magic Remote, which has been redesigned to fine-tune content, menu navigation and voice control.
LG is also expanding its 2013 Google TV lineup to seven models in five screen sizes: 42-, 47-, 50-, 55- and 60-inch. The premium GA7900 series (47- and 55-inch sizes) feature the CINEMA SCREEN design for a sleek, more modern look.
Toshiba Intros Ultra HD 4K TV Series
New products include premium TVs, sound bars, media box
By Jeff O’Heir
Toshiba kicked off its new year at 2013 CES by announcing a new line of Ultra HD 4K TVs, a line of larger-screen premium LED TVs with “cloud” capabilities, a Blu-ray-based media player, and new audio products.
The L9300 series of Ultra HD LED TVs are scheduled to roll out this summer in 58-, 65- and 80-inch screen sizes. Prices have not been set, said Scott Ramirez, vice president of product marketing and development, visual products, for Toshiba America Information Systems.
Powered by Toshiba’s CEVO 4K Quad+Dual Core Processor, the sets feature 4K upscaling and 2D-to-3D conversion; ClearScan 240Hz refresh rate; CQ engine for improved picture control; and UltraClear Dynamic Noise Reduction.
Marketing around Toshiba’s new premium LED sets will focus on Cloud TV functionality for a better-connected experience that ties in mobile devices. Some of the initial key services include a family calendar, messaging, MediaShare, built-in Wi-Di and Miracast.
The premium models include the L7350 active 3D Series in 58 and 65 inches; the L7300 Series in 50, 58 and 65 inches; and the L4300 Series in 32, 39, 50 and 58 inches. They are scheduled to roll out in March.
A new line of more affordable TVs includes the L2300 Series in 23, 32, 39 and 50 inches; and the L1350 Series in 23, 29, 32, 39 and 50 inches. Those are also scheduled for a March release. Pricing wasn’t announced.
The Media-Box with Blu-ray models feature a Web browser, built-in Wi-Fi with Miracast, an app platform, and integration with Cloud TV. The series includes the BDX2400, the BDX3400, the BDX5400, and the BDX6400. All are scheduled for release in March.
Toshiba’s new audio includes the Home Theater Sound Base (SBX2950), a rectangular box that sits on a table below a 29- to 50-inch TV; the SBX4250 Home Theater Sound Bar with a wireless sub-woofer and SRS Surround Sound; and the SBX3965 Home Theater Sound Strip for on-wall applications and 39- to 65-inch TVs.
Westinghouse Digital created some buzz with it 110-inch Ultra HD TV. Other Ultra HD sizes include 50, 55 and 65 inches. All have 120 Hz refresh rates and will ship in the first quarter.
The company also expanded its Unplug Series of audio gear with three Bluetooth speakers, including the AIO ($129.99 MSRP), a small unit for a smartphone or tablet; the 300 ($229.99 MSRP) flagship model, which features four full range driver, a passive radiator, Ultra Bass Booster, Kick Clear, a MicroSD card reader, and up to 20 hours of play time on a single charge; the 200 ($179.99 MSRP), a more economical version of the 300 with many of the same features. All are scheduled to ship in Q1.