2019 CES: Yes there were televisions

Yeah, I had to give you one article about the big televisions. There were big televisions. Lots of big televisions. Everyone had a gigantic television, everyone had an 8K television. It was hard to tell that any television was really better than any other television. I guess the real story was the way that different companies decided to show their television. No two companies illustrate this better than LG and Samsung.

LG

LG, as always, opened the Central Hall experience. In past years they used large videowalls with 3D TVs. Of course, most people gave up on 3D a long time ago but LG kept pushing it as far as they could. They were the last company to sell a 3D TV in the US, in fact.

This year, LG showed the world a wall full of complex curved TVs, which you can see at the top of this article. Yes, there is such a thing as a curved TV. As I said fairly recently, that’s not a terribly hard thing to do these days.

When you walked through the giant curved videowall, you were introduced to a large display of roll-up TVs. Here’s video showing them moving (and it takes longer than you think.)

Everything else LG showed, and they showed a lot, was off to the side. LG wants you to know that they sell TVs, and if you buy anything else with an LG badge on it, that’s just fine. Just buy a TV first… that’s the message.

Samsung

Samsung, on the other hand, had plenty of TVs but they had plenty of other things. In the past Samsung has had dancing TVs, acrobatic TVs, giant TVs, and every other TV you can imagine. This year, TVs were there, but they weren’t the focus. The focus was on smart home technology.

Personally I don’t know how smart my gas range needs to be. It would be nice if it told me I left it on, but beyond that I don’t think I need to know. Smart homes are great but there comes a point where the connectivity seems like a bit of a waste.

On the other hand, Samsung really wanted you to know they have Bixby. Bixby, in case you didn’t know, is Samsung’s answer to Alexa, Siri, or Hey Google. Yes, technically Bixby is a thing. But really, is it? Is it? Bixby will be built into practically every 2019 smart home appliance Samsung sells. How many people will really use it? Or will they stay away from Samsung and go toward smart TVs that are supported by the more popular Alexa or Google Assistant?

Everyone else

There were other TV makers. Sony, Changdong, Hisense, TCL and others showed TVs that were huge but unremarkable. Most TV makers showed TVs just like it was still 2013 and everyone was impressed by big TVs. Realistically most TV makers’ booths looked like the shelves of your average club store, just with more models and more carpet.

To be honest I’d be just fine if this ended up being the last year of big TVs at CES. Samsung was probably the best booth with big TVs, while LG was the worst. For two companies that are such ardent competitors, the difference in the two was really telling.