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I just got back from the Consumer Electronics Show 2012 (CES) which was held in Las Vegas. This is a good show for me and the company that I work for as it shows us some of the possible future trends of digital media consumption. Things presented at CES may just come and go and be quickly forgotten, but at the same time, there are definite themes on the conference that companies need to pay attention to.

3D is so yesterday!

This was actually the second CES that I have been to and both were focused on different themes as it seemed to me. Last year’s CES was really all about 3D TVs and even some companies trying to show up the others with glassless 3D TVs. It was amazing to me how much hype there was around 3D televisions at the 2011 CES. The press was really all over this.

For me, I never really enjoyed the presentations on 3D TVs. I wear glasses and everything is tough for me to view on these TVs. My eyes strained constantly and watered when I watched. It was always an uncomfortable experience for me to view these types of TVs. There were many instances in watching 3D that you had to be perfectly positioned for the best picture. This approach obviously won’t work that well in the home. The glassless 3D televisions were the absolute worst when it came to positioning yourself in front of the TV. Being off a bit for a glassless television meant that you could almost be certain of a migraine.

As far as 2012, there really wasn’t that much in the way of 3D. Don’t get me wrong, it was there, but all the hype was gone. The reason is that it hasn’t really taken off in the public market. More people are gravitating to HD, LED, and Smart TVs while not getting to excited about 3D. The new 3D TVs would be fine if you are a massive movie buff and want to watch your 3D movies a lot, but in my opinion, they don’t fit in that well with the average home TV usage. Most people watch TV in a social setting, with others, their eyes moving from the people they are talking to and back to the television in constant glances. People are walking in and out of the room to stir the macaroni on the stovetop or something similar. This doesn’t make for a great 3D television experience. I think people like 3D – but they would rather have this experience in the theater rather than in the home.

So what is new in 3D? Well for one, there was some hype on better looking 3D glasses.

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These glasses were being showcased in the LG booth. There were also quite a wide variety of other styles from some designer brands (e.g. Oakley, Alain Mikli, etc).

OLED TVs! I want one now!


imageWell, the thing that got me the most excited on the TV front was the new OLED TVs. These TVs are so thin (we were seeing them at 4mm thick!). They are also incredible bright and clear. Do you remember that experience when you saw HD for the first time and wondered how that was even possible? Well, looking at OLED was almost as good as that experience. It is considerably better than the HD TVs of today. The picture quality was amazing and the photos/videos here wouldn’t do it any justice.

This video doesn’t do the quality justice. It was way way better than this.

Even though, this is a video I took of the LG OLED TV. Here is a shot of the thinness of the TV (at 4mm thick) at the Samsung booth:

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Smart TV Fight!

The entire smart TV arena is really starting to come to a battle on direction. First you have the television companies themselves working to bring apps and the entire application model to the television set. The TV companies are creating their own app world. You have Sony, LG, Philips, Samsung, and others working to create an application model that is good for them and their users. Originally there were TV companies that really had a walled-garden approach to their app world. Some of the companies would only allow their own company to supply the apps that were on the TV. But now, there was a lot of movement at CES to include SDKs so that application developers can build apps specifically for their TVs (some working in private clouds only).

By far the leader in this market is Samsung. They have been letting developers specifically develop for their TVs for some time now (really more than anyone else). They also have an SDK that is easy to use and get up to speed with. Samsung has a tremendous amount of support as well for the developers from their website. But with this new found love for the application developer from the TV companies, it is still very difficult for the app dev. It isn’t as if you are going to build a single instance of your application and then have the ability to get this application to work across all the TVs. In fact, you are going to be doing some serious work to build TV-specific applications where some of the TVs might have the APIs that you are looking for to complete your application while others fall considerably short. What is a TV application developer to do? Well – Google TV might be the answer.

Google TV was released in 2010 and basically the street thought that it failed right away. The UI was considered not that well designed and it was tough for the end user to figure out how to navigate through the application. Google then went back to the drawing board and came out in CES with their new Google TV.

I was really impressed with what they have designed. With Google TV, you will have access to the Android Market for applications that can be placed on your television. At this moment there are only about 150 applications that have been specifically designed for the TV, but they are their way.

The absolute best thing for TV application developers is that they can now build a single application for the TV and be agnostic to the underlying TV. This is really what the industry needs at the end of the day for maximum innovation and growth. I would think that the best approach for the television companies is to create an experience on top of Google TV so that it isn’t a vanilla branded version of Google TV. With this, they can do more that works specifically with their hardware while at the same time allowing end users to reach out to the application market. At CES, there were TV companies that were hedging their bets and showcasing both their own Smart TVs with their own environment, while also showcasing Google TV versions of their TVs.

The ability to work with TVs in an agnostic fashion as a TVappDev is also possible with some of these smart TV overriders such as Roku and Boxee. All in all, the Smart TV world is taking off and by 2015 most TVs sold will be smart TVs. It is pretty exciting and this will dramatically change the ways in which we are entertained. I look forward to these coming changes.

Concept Cars

Ok – I don’t work with cars as part of my job, but who doesn’t like to look at concept cars? CES had some neat ones:

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Summary

I did enjoy myself at CES this year. There was some cool things and strange things as well. Some of those things included:

  • An alien from the upcoming Men In Black 3 walking the floor
  • Every booth selling something that was tied to an iPad in some fashion (iPads were EVERYWHERE!)
  • The new Galaxy Note (nice)
  • A section of a booth showing the new Walkman (huh?)
  • The new Sony and Nokia phones (Sony was using Android and Nokia was using Windows 7)
  • The Tesla car … (my photos were no good)

See you there next year!

Posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 3:50 PM Gadgets , Reviews , MSDN | Back to top


Comments on this post: Analyzing CES 2012

# re: Analyzing CES 2012
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Bill, I would say this trip was definitely worth you AND your company’s while if you were able to pick up this much information yourself! I really enjoyed your overview of the difference between last year and this year. Yes, I do remember the 3D craze and it IS different this year. I think from what I am reading, integration of technology or, “ecosystems,” is the catch phrase; am I right? I thought the Google TV section was the best because it talked about technology that is more accessible to consumers right now. I bought my HD TV’s (unfortunately) before the Smart TV was very affordable, so I have been really looking forward to the day when I can get one. When I found out while working at DISH they were going to let me see the new multi-room DVR before it was shown at CES I was thrilled because it has Smart TV apps built in. It is a silly luxury to buy another TV if I have a perfectly good HD TV already so the Hopper will be much more reasonable for my family.
Left by Gman on Jan 16, 2012 3:31 PM

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