Yes, we’re back from CES 2019 in Las Vegas. For me, this is the tenth excursion to everything possibly related to entertainment, booze, and one of the biggest tech events for a whole week. However, despite all the trends propagated by fellow press and media outlets, a lot of attention always falls on the newest TVs. Even if you know nothing else surrounding the show, there will always be a huge and vividly detailed screen to gawk at on the show floor.
Last year teased a plethora of display technologies that got attendees salivating not only for bigger pixels, but the promise of flexibility as well. There were promises made that advancements such as bespoke displays that would encompass entire walls or discretely transform and hide away.
In that regard, LG probably stole the show with their production-ready Signature Series OLED TV R (R9). We saw this concept last year, but now it’s really coming out in the second half of 2019. That’s right, this will most likely be at your local Fry’s, Magnolia, or whatever boutique electronics store you frequent in all its glory. So, what’s exactly different compared to what we saw in 2018? It’s still 65 inches with a native 4K resolution (obviously), but the base has been redesigned to accommodate optional device storage and sports a metallic gray look with a visible soundbar grille featuring six-channel (4.2) Dolby Atmos capabilities. The rear has all the necessary inputs and outputs, and incorporation of suites like Apple Airplay 2 and HomeKit, along with the usual Amazon Alexa support.
LG remains committed to the future of OLED technology and will officially be the first manufacturer to produce a flexible home display in large-scale capacity. If you ignore its motorized roller mechanism that can set the screen in two distinct positions, it really does seem like magic when you first lay eyes upon it. Pricing was not announced but we expect this beauty will cost a lot of money when released.
Once again, Samsung revealed an even larger 219-inch version of their lifelike MicroLED TV called The Wall. Like their initial 146-inch concept, this giant TV isn’t one piece, but instead multiple modules that allow prospective owners to tailor their screen to whatever arrangement is suitable. This in essence makes The Wall modular with the MicroLED making it unique, with images being created by millions of tiny individual LEDs that is beyond current generation OLEDs without the issue of burn-in. IT remains to be seen though, as lumping in as many LEDs isn’t quite cheap or practical for consumer wallets. Samsung wants to bring out a 75-inch model with a 30mm panel thickness for this year, but information such as pricing and availability was nonexistent.
Remember when 4K/UHD resolution was touted as the ultimate in pixel clarity and visual fidelity? We do, and now 8K has made its widespread introduction into your next high-end TV at this CES—this also means that early adopters of whatever they bought a couple years ago continue to get the shaft. This is not-so-new for Samsung as they already debuted their Q900 8K QLED TV and of its 85 inches back in September (and the world’s first consumer 8K TV overall), but this was a good opportunity to captivate bright-eyed consumers with more sensible and smaller options from 65, 75, and 82-inch choices due out by March. Of course bigger is better and Samsung didn’t skip a beat by showing off a gargantuan 98-inch 8K TV, with smart features like Apple Airplay 2 and proprietary voice integration of their own Bixby voice assistance suite.
Last but not least is Sony, as they continue to push their TVs farther upmarket with the MASTER series lineup. At first, we couldn’t tell the difference between the OLED (A9G) and LED (Z9G) variants as they both looked fantastic into technical demo loops. However, if you want the thinness and promise of ‘absolute’ black levels, then the A9G offers stellar 4K performance as they hone their OLED process for 55, 65, and 77-inches models. Meanwhile you’ll have to settle for LED if you want the splendor of consumer 8K/HDR and only 85 and 98-inch sizes. Sony also claims it has updated both its X1 Ultimate image processor, and its X-Reality PRO technology to be optimized for 8K upscaling algorithm, ensuring that all content regardless of its native resolution, looks accurate as possible. Also new is the addition of IMAX Enhanced picture options for compatible films.
It does appear that next-generation TVs have “arrived” much sooner than anticipated. Compared to the numerous gaffes that involved theoretical manufacturer specs with UHD and multimedia interfaces, and DRM encryption that literally crippled enthusiast hardware, there does seem to be a little more forethought this time with 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz via HDMI 2.1, variable refresh rate (VRR) and dynamic HDR quickly becoming the upcoming norm. Many of those elusive dreams are indeed becoming reality for the new year.