4K resolution television, which displays on-screen images four times as detailed as current-generation high-definition sets, is set to be the big emerging trend in television technology in 2013 judging by announcements at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Sony, Samsung and LG all announced large-screened TVs with this new picture format, which is also known as Ultra HD (UHD) at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES).
Although CES only officially kicks off on Tuesday, the major tech firms showed off their new tech at a series of press conferences that sometimes included barbs at unnamed “competitors”.
The key products on display, as is expected at an event that prides itself on its “consumer” tag, were smartphones and the new 4K televisions; as well as a range of connected devices.
Samsung announced several new TVs, including a new flagship top-end LED screen, the F8000, which comes in a range of sizes (46, 55, 60, 65 and 75-inches). These use voice recognition that can “acknowledges simply commands, understand natural language and full sentences,” said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America. A recommendation service, only available in the US because it links to electronic programming guides, offers suggestions of related TV shows to watch – based on previous viewing patterns.
It also showed off a 3D OLED TV capable of showing two shows at once, with each 3D headset’s built-in earbuds delivering the different soundtracks.
This should solve any arguments, said Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics America.
Samsung also revealed a whopping 110in/2.7m OLED screen during its slick press conference that had some 2500 people in a ballroom at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Samsung also announced their promised “Evolution Kit” – an easy-to-install hardware upgrade to their top-end TVs which increases the TV sets’ power and prolongs these expensive unit’s lifespan.
Sony, the troubled Japanese consumer electronics giants, showed strong signs of recovery at a packed event at its stand in the cavernous halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre where the main CES exhibition takes place every January.
Kazuo Hirai, the Japanese born but American-educated President and CEO of Sony, unveiled a number of significant products that seemed to indicate the company is returning to its former glory.
Using an impressive multi-screen display that stretched 360-degree around its massive stand, Hirai outlined the company’s new releases, including an awesome 56in/1.3m OLED screen.
Having launched the impressive 84in XBR-84X900 4K television, Sony announced two smaller models (55 and 65inches); as well as their first consumer 4K video camera.
Hirai also announced the new flagship smartphone, the 7.9mm-thin Xperia Z. It has a 13MP camera, 5in Full HD screen, Snapdragon S4 processor, Mobile Bravia Engine 2 and is water-resistant so it’s ideal for “blogging in the bathtub or downloading in a downpour”.
The phone has a large range of accessories that use NFC for one-touch sharing of content, especially music, and signals how Sony will be providing content sharing across its connected smartphones, tablets and TVs, as well as many clever speakers.
One of the most impressive products is the Cyber-shot RX100, which he later described as a “Ferrari engine in a Mini Cooper body”.
“We’re a year away from returning the TV business to profitability. You have to shrink to grow,” said the CEO who took over from Sir Howard Stringer just nine months ago after the Japanese tsunami last year significantly set back its recovery attempts.
“It’s a combination of reduction in costs and better products,” he told Stuff during a small interview with journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, USA Today and other well-known news publications.
Despite pressure from the dominate TV maker Samsung, he said Sony’s in-house technology is like “11 herbs and spices, as it were” in a reference to the mystical recipe for KFC.
Sony, which owns movie studios and TV shows as well as record labels, is pushing hard with 4K, and plans to offer a native 4K movie content service to consumers from mid-2013 in the United States. Previous HD films like Spider-Man 3 and others will be remastered in this new format.
Chinese manufacturer Huawei – which is the second-largest maker of telecoms equipment, including cellphone base stations – showed off two large-screen smartphones that are clearly aimed at Samsung’s and Apple’s devices.
The Ascend D2 and Mate devices look not unlike Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Note 2; and have similarly-sized big screens.
The D2 has a 6in/15.2cm screen, 13 megapixel camera and claims a significant battery life of two days. The Mate has a slightly larger screen.
To demonstrate its water-resistant feature Huawei president Richard Hu poured a jug of water over the phone to a tsunami of flashlights and showed that the phone responds to a gloved hand.
Hu punted its design features, including a curved back to match the shape of your hand and said the phone is made using 116 different manufacturing processes.
A clever feature on both phones lets you reduce the size of the virtual keyboard so you can use only one hand.
CES continues this week.
Image: Business Insider