It's another January, which means another Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I'm checking in today at the end of Press Day, the pre-CES ritual that sees thousands of bloggers, reporters, editors and other members of the traditional and online press yanked hither and fro through a gauntlet of press events held by LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, Sony and many others. While, as expected, these are mostly self-congratulatory affairs, they are still worth braving the crowds -- some of the lines here would seem more appropriate for peak season at Disney World -- to attend, if for no other reason than to be among the first to see all of this year's new tech in person.
So, what's new?
As always, Press Day generated a flurry of new product announcements and other news. There are plenty of outlets where you can read the play-by-play on that. Instead, with Press Day now in the rear-view mirror, I'd like to look at some of the overall trends I saw in home entertainment, along with some of the products and concepts that tickled my fancy the most.
Despite the fact that 3D hasn't exactly taken off, just about every manufacturer seems to be as committed to it as ever. That's not to say that they aren't aware that something is, um, not quite right as of yet. LG and Sony announced prototypes of 3D displays that don't require glasses, and Toshiba, which took a Press Day timeout this year, is scheduled to have its already-announced glassless 3D display on the show floor.
Others are taking a different tack. LG is dumping those heavy and expensive active-shutter glasses and replacing them with passive glasses that are cheap (less then $20 a pair) and lightweight. Bowing to the fact that families actually watch TV together, the company is also packaging four pairs of the glasses with each 3D HDTV it will sell this year. As a bonus, LG claims that the new technology performs better than last year's 3D TV's -- which, unfortunately, is not that high of a bar to clear (see our reports on LCD TVs and Plasma TVs for more information). Vizio, which doesn't take part in Press Day, is also releasing 3D TVs with passive glasses.
Most TV makers are also including Internet connectivity as a key part of their strategy for 2011. iPhone-like application marketplaces are appearing on sets from LG and Panasonic this year, joining Samsung, which pioneered the concept of a TV app store in 2010. LG is so proud of its new SmartTV connected TV platform that it is also offering a standalone box, the SmartTV Upgrader, to bring it to other TVs -- and in direct competition to an exploding number of streaming-media boxes, such as Roku, the Boxee Box, the revamped Apple TV, and, of course, the Logitech Revue Google TV box.
That's it for now, but stay tuned as the ConsumerSearch team reports on more of the goings on at CES over the next few days.