In recent years at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it seemed like the different manufacturers were constantly fighting with one another to produce the largest single panel television. This year was different. Instead of simply going for size, they really started to focus on new features that would actually enhance the user experience.
The Push Toward 3D TV in the Home
The idea of having a 3D TV in the living room is nothing new. If you remember the CES coverage that we provided last year, most of these companies already had 3D televisions on display. However, with the arrival of a 3D Blu-ray standard, it seems that 3D has become the "it" feature of the future.
Samsung introduced the widest range of TV products, including LED TV, LCD TV, plasma TV, Blu-ray players, and home theater systems. To push this point home, Samsung has partnered with Technicolor and Dreamworks. Having the 3D hardware is pointless without the right content. In like manner, Panasonic has teamed up with DirecTV for more 3D content.
The special 3D glasses are getting better and Samsung even has a TV set that doesn't require the glasses at all. The performance on that unit isn't quite as good as the others, since you have to be standing in the perfect sweet spot to get the desired effect, but it is certainly more convenient.
Increased Internet Connectivity and Apps
If you were to ask the people at LG, they'd point out that they have the 3D thing going on too, but they feel that increased Internet connectivity is even more important to the end consumer at this point. It's about interaction.
On the LG side, they want you to stream online content, like YouTube, directly to your LG HDTV. Further still, they're looking for some incredible convergence. They have a media hub where you can connect all of your input sources, like your Xbox or notebook PC, and have that content sent to any TV in your home. The kicker? You're using your cell phone as the master remote for this purpose.
Not to be outdone, the boys in blue introduced something called Samsung Apps. This is a multi-device app store that will offer new apps not only for smartphones, but also for your TV and more. Get widgets for live weather updates and so on. The free TV apps will be ready for the spring, while paid apps will arrive in the summer.
Samsung is equally dedicated to convergence in the home. I'm not entirely sure how it'll work, but they say that all WiFi-enabled Samsung devices can be interconnected. For instance, you can use your Samsung notebook PC to control the TV or even use your smartphone as a second screen, streaming your TV content to your hands.