CES 2013: Televisions continue as major show focus

January 4, 2013

The living room is sure to be a main focus at the International CES consumer electronics show next week, with companies highlighting their most innovative television tech.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a CES without a lineup of bigger, better televisions. This year is no exception with companies promoting their latest advances, including Internet-connected televisions, 3D televisions and the next step in HD televisions — Ultra HD. These televisions, also called 4K televisions in reference to the roughly 4,000 pixels (horizontally) that fit on their screens, distinguish themselves through sheer size and detail. LG and Sony showcased 4K televisions at last year’s tech confab, but the sets will have even greater visibility at this year’s event. 

Almost the entire television industry is moving to jump on this trend, said Tom Stuermer, senior executive with Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech group. Tech-watchers can expect to see the huge televisions — ranging from 50-inches to 110-inches — from Sony, LG, Westinghouse and others. Those big screens come with equally large price tags of around $20,000. Or more.

Those high price tags will likely keep consumers from snapping up the products any time soon, but that’s not the only obstacle to selling them. There’s also the thorny problem of content. In other words, what are you going to watch on a television that crisp? 

Sony, said Stuermer, is addressing this problem by offering its 4K televisions with bundled content that can actually take advantage of the technology, delivering 4K content from Sony Pictures Entertainment directly to buyers’ sets. Online delivery, Stuermer noted, could help the industry avoid the sort of distribution problems — Blu-ray vs. HD DVD, anyone? — that they’ve had in the past with new formats. 

There are also some interesting things going on with television controls at this year’s show. YouTube announced that it will work with LG, Panasonic, Sony, Philips, Sharp, Vizio and others to expand users’ ability to send videos from their mobile device to their televisions. An influx of applications both for mobile devices and for televisions themselves could build on the idea of using mobile devices as remote controls.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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