|Hit or Miss: Video Trends of CES 2010|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Video Related Articles|
|Written by Dick Ward|
|Thursday, 14 January 2010|
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Another CES is behind us. The monstrous screens and massive subwoofers are no longer there, and neither are the innovations that make the show so great. The purveyors of sadder products have gone home as well. The people that make shoe shaped speakers and unbreakable cell phones that crack on live television have returned to the drawing board for another year. It’s time to reflect on the Consumer Electronic Show, and take a look at some of the impressive (and less impressive) technologies that make the show worth going to year after year.
HITTransparent OLED – This one took me by surprise. Transparent OLED screens have gotten a buzz in the last few months as they’ve been placed into laptops and cell phones. Until I got up close with Samsung’s IceTouch, I dismissed it as something pretty but not practical.
The IceTouch is an MP3 player that uses a transparent OLED touchscreen for controls and display. The idea of it is that rather than controlling it from the front, covering the screen in the process, you can control it from the back.
It’s pretty and it’s surprisingly practical. Controlling from the back of the player also means no smudges on the front screen. It’s something that I think we can expect to see come to television remotes in the next few years.
MISSOLED Televisions – It’s been years now since the debut of the first OLED, and things don’t seem to be improving a whole lot. They’re still fantastic looking, and they can still bend, but they’re still small and expensive.
LG is one of few companies still making noise about the screens. They’ve boasted that they’ll have a 32” screen in the next two years and even gone so far as to say that they’ll be making OLEDs cheaper than LCDs by 2016. At the show however, OLED was still just a tiny piece of their booth.
HITRemotes – The improvement of the quality of remotes was huge this year. Lower end televisions still had standard TV remotes, but the addition of so much streaming content means those standard remotes just won’t do it anymore.
The Boxee Box comes with a remote with dual functionality, for example. On one side it’s a simple remote with only the most basic of controls, but the flip side reveals a full QWERTY keyboard. Even Vizio has adopted QWERTY into the remotes of their XVT line.
Samsung really stepped it up though. Their new 9000 line will come with a touch screen remote that lets you view content from your television right on the 2” LCD screen. Not only can you stream the channel you’re currently watching to the new WiFi remote, but you can browse through other channels, or even grab content from your home computer, as the remote is DNLA compliant.
MISS3D – I’m sorry to have to say it, because there’s so much potential for this to be cool, but 3D just doesn’t work. Whether it was Samsung or Panasonic, plasma or LCD, or even from a high end LG projector, 3D content looked awkward at best.
There are a lot of problems that come with putting content into 3D, just as there were a lot of problems that came with upgrading to a high definition 16:9 television. The difference is that while HDTV looked obviously better than SD, 3D television requires a sacrifice of quality.
3D may be the future, but based on the displays on the CES show floor, it’s not here yet.
HIT2D to 3D Conversion – Oddly, 2D to 3D conversion is seen by companies as the red headed stepchild of true 3D content. They announce that their televisions can upgrade 2D content to 3D, and they display the feature, but it’s not hugely featured in their booths. This is a shame, because unlike native 3D content the 2D to 3D conversion actually looked good.
Content created to be in 3D takes on the third dimension by popping out of the screen towards you. It’s the same style 3D that we’ve experienced since the days of Captain EO. When 2D is converted to 3D it loses that pop-out effect. Instead, images pop in, which creates a much more realistic picture.
Samsung’s display for 2D conversion featured a rebroadcast of a soccer match. Watching the match was like looking through a window and seeing a game being played. The field had depth, and it felt almost like watching it in person, but with better angles. Without the pop-out effect, it felt natural, and didn’t suffer from the same flicker that native 3D did.
MISS3D Wannabes – There’s 3D content, there’s 2D content that’s been upconverted to 3D and then there’s the stuff that just doesn’t work. Back in 2009 I was excited to see the autostereoscopic displays; those potentially revolutionary 3DTVs that don’t require glasses. They were in their infancy then, and with another year of development, said developers, you’ll be amazed at what we can do.
Another year’s gone by and things haven’t gotten better. In truth, most autostereoscopic displays look the same if not worse. TCL in particular had a less than impressive 3D image in an absolutely hideous reflective display that made it difficult to focus on the TVs at all.
There’s bad, and then there’s bad. The Deep Screen from RealView deserves the italics. In its essence, it’s a piece of plastic that you put over your television set to make it look like the screen bulges inward at the surface. It’s a bit like a permanent fish eye lens. If that weren’t impractical enough, it also catches more glare than any display I’ve ever seen.