Top TV trends at CES 2013

Top TV trends at CES 2013

Some, such as Samsung, are hedging their bets by launching new LED, LCD, OLED and plasma screen TV sets, while Panasonic, Sharp and Sony are focusing as much on using their own proprietary technologies to improve current TV resolution and performance as they are on building larger and larger displays at higher and higher prices.

Maybe the revolution will be televised
Many in the industry believed that one of the big things to look forward to at this year's CES from a televisual point of view was a format war. Ultra-high-definition TV sets were the stars of 2012 and it was expected that similarly-sized competing technology OLED TVs would be on show this year. Sure enough, Samsung and LG have both unveiled 55-inch OLED sets -- the F9500 OLED and the 55EM9700 respectively -- at this year's event that promise better color, responsiveness and contrast than any current UHDTV but don't quite have the same resolution. However, as others predicted, Sony demonstrated a prototype UHD OLED TV that essentially combines the best elements of both technologies and could therefore win the war before the first shot is even fired, if it ever goes into large-scale production.

Only Apple is Apple
One of the reasons that TVs continue to resemble black slabs of glass and plastic with often overly complex stands or other supporting furniture is because Apple doesn't currently design or make its own sets and therefore existing TV makers, unlike their smartphone- tablet- and computer-making peers, have no one to copy. One welcome design trend this year is the use of natural materials, particularly Vizio's choice of aluminum to give TVs a clean, understated feel. Another positive change is all manufacturers' attempts (but in particular those of Sharp and LG) to reduce the bezel between the edge of the display and the outer edge of the television and to do away with an outer casing or frame altogether whenever possible. However, the design for Samsung's S9 UHD is not universally impressing as a housing suitable for a flagship, flatscreen television.

Glasses-free 3D
As well as announcing its official 2013 lineup, which includes 55-inch, 65-inch and 70-inch streamlined Ultra-High-Definition XVT Ultra TV sets, US TV-maker Vizio also demonstrated its new glasses-free 3D technology. Using software to maintain a full 3D experience from a number of viewing angles, the prototype 55-inch TV set also boasted an UHD display but there is as of yet no word if or when this feature will be officially launched.

Thinking of the future
Much of the debate surrounding the future of the TV industry is not about whether 4K ultra-high definition is a better technology than OLED, it's focused on whether or not consumers actually want their TVs to be ‘smart'. Unlike other consumer electronic devices, the average TV has an active lifespan of five to 10 years because, unlike a laptop or smartphone, it is a) very expensive and b) is historically unlikely to become obsolete within 18 months as television stations don't change operating systems every year. However, packing one full of processors, internet connections and an Android or Linux operating system means that they will go out of date very quickly. Which is why along with a new flagship 75-iinch LED Smart TV, the F8000, Samsung has also launched the Samsung Evolution Kit which slots into the back of a Samsung Smart TV and houses all of the time-sensitive elements. Consumers need only replace the kit, rather than the television when new software or hardware becomes available.