So we’re back from CES 2019, and if the bags under my eyes tell you anything it’s that I’m still recovering from my time in Las Vegas traipsing through every hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the Sands Convention Center, and every other hotel up and down the Strip.
But we’re back, and my first world problems aside we learned quite a lot about some of the latest tech trends hitting our industry.
Prior to leaving for CES, I told you about my plan to get some answers around what I felt would be the biggest stories to come out of the show: 8K, 5G, and Virtual Reality. So let’s recap that.
With 8K, it’s certainly here, but I still don’t quite understand why. Actually, scratch that. I understand why 8K is here, but I don’t think that I can fully support its way-too-early arrival. The promise of 8K is simple. It’s 33 million pixels, or more than four-times as dense as 4K TVs available today, packed into these massive screens. And clarity aside, 8K will allow TV brands to continue to up their screen-size options without sacrificing clarity or color—hence the introduction of Samsung’s 98-inch model here in Vegas.
But let’s get to the why. … As TV prices continue to decline, and as consumers continue to wait for the best deals on new displays, margins for manufacturers (and in turn retailers) continue to vanish at an alarming rate.
So, the best way to ensure those profits don’t completely vanish is to launch a new display technology. And that should do two things for them: 1) give TV makers an opportunity to benefit off of the early adopters out there, and 2) possibly allow them to slow the downward curve of 4K and HDR set prices with the distraction of these new higher-priced 8K TVs. So, in that sense, can you really blame them for trying to make this push?
On to 5G.
5G touched nearly every corner of the CES show floor(s), with all of the major manufacturers touting their work within the industry to get consumers ready for the launch of the next-gen networking platform sometime later this year. We’ve pretty-well covered the impact that 5G will have on the technology we use in our daily lives, with its increased bandwidth capabilities and faster upload/download speeds. The 5G revolution is going to have a major impact on each and every thing that we do as humans, I don’t doubt that. What I do doubt is the immediacy of that impact.
Early returns of 5G speed tests have shown improvement over current 4G LTE speeds, but not to the degree that we’ve been promised. I’m not shocked by that and neither should you be. As with all things tech-related there are going to be growing pains with the technology. So, it’s going to be up to retailers—as the front line combatants with the consumer—to help tamper those expectations. 5G will be great, someday, but certainly not the day the industry decides to flip the switch.
And lastly, virtual reality.
For the first time ever it feels like, I left CES with positive sentiments around this category. When I boil it down, though, the positive vibes really have nothing to do with the actual headsets, but rather the content that’s viewed through them. Aside from continuing to hope for improved clarity in the displays—I mean we’re ready for 8K TVs but we really can’t get our VR headsets to look better than 720p?—the VR experience is what it is.
It’s the content side of things that’s really going to help shape this industry moving forward. While VR itself is a totally immersive experience that takes the user out of the world they exist in and transports them somewhere totally different, it doesn’t mean that the experience has to be one that’s anti-social. We’ve already seen some really unique and successful implementations of social VR content in something like NextVR with their NBA Digital game presentations. That experience—being able to virtually attend NBA games and engage with your friends or a wider social audience—is something that is truly game changing. The trick, then, is finding other ways and other partners, content providers, and the like, to get on board with the concept.
Commercially, the technology has tremendously beneficial applications on the training and education side of things. But finding the right pitch to get the consumer to buy in to the technology is something that’s been desperately missing. And it feels like we got this much closer to perfecting it at CES 2019.
So those are the high level takeaways we had from the show, and we’re still working through our notes as we get back into the swing of things here in the office. But let us know what caught your eye out there in Vegas and what takeaways you came away with. But until then, thanks for watching and we’ll catch you next week.