At CES 2013, TVs get bigger, more social and smarter

At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, electronics makers such as Samsung and Panasonic are taking on social TV. The Post’s Caitlin Dewey reports :

There was a time when TV check-in apps such as Viggle and Get Glue seemed edgy and cool. But the latest talk from the Consumer Electronics Show promises to push social TV way beyond apps, building social media into program plotlines, ad sales and even TV interfaces.

For TV executives and manufacturers alike, the “second screen” phenomenon remains an untapped well of opportunity. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, more than half of U.S. adults use their cellphones and surf the channels at the same time. And while many of those people use their second screens to, say, play real-time TV critics on Twitter, TV executives want to attract them to proprietary apps or to integrate third-party social networks in innovative ways.

Samsung’s latest line of smart TVs, for example, places social media on par with live TV and video on demand. Mashable reports that users can now access Twitter, Facebook and other social networks right from the TV’s main interface, making it easier to jump into the social conversation around shows. Even more interesting, liking something on Facebook is as easy as making a “thumbs up” gesture at the screen.

Panasonic chief executive Kazuhiro Tsugo also announced a new “social media user interface” at his company’s preview press conference Monday night, ZDNet reports. The high-end Viera HDTVs will now play more nicely with phones and tablets — you can easily send photos from one to the other — and let users access social media apps from a personalized home screen.

Not only are TVs getting more social, but they are also becoming smarter. The Associated Press reports :

In the not-so-distant future, couch potatoes will be waving, pointing, swiping and tapping to make their TVs react, kind of like what Tom Cruise did in the 2002 movie “Minority Report.” That’s the vision of TV manufacturers as they show off “smart TVs.”

The sets will recognize who’s watching and will try to guess what viewers want to see. They’ll respond to more natural speech and will connect with your smartphone in a single touch.

The idea is to make TV watching easier and more pleasant as viewers are confronted with more and more choices — from the hundreds of live TV channels from the cable or satellite provider to online video services such as Netflix , Hulu and Apple’s iTunes. A traditional remote control that lets you flip through channels one at a time suddenly seems inadequate.

At a speech this week, Samsung President Boo-Keun Yoon said the company was developing “TVs that have the power to create the ultimate lean-back experience.”

But don’t worry about “Big Brother” looking back at you. Manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics will allow motion-capturing cameras to be pointed away.

Another theme for TVs at CES this year is the 4K television. The Post’s Hayley Tsukayama reports :

The crown jewel of [Panasonic’s] product announcements, however, was a 56-inch OLED television with an ultra high-definition 4K display. The firm was also tight-lipped about when this enormous television would hit the market and what it will cost when it does. But the picture quality, at least onstage, looked stunning, and its profile is unbelievably thin — just half an inch thick.

Actually, Sony beat Panasonic to the punch by introducing a 56-inch 4K OLED television of its own Monday night, though it also didn’t reveal pricing or availability information. That’s typical of the show, which is great for showcasing what companies are planning but not quite as good a forecast for what folks will be buying in the coming year.

 
Read what others are saying