CES 2018: The obligatory post about televisions

Today was the blog team’s time in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is where they keep the big TVs. There were in fact an ungodly number of big TVs, but mostly from companies you’ve never heard of like Konka, CEC, Huawei, and other Chinese names. Hisense, RCA and Haier, the brands you see at discount and club stores were there too. Among the non-Chinese manufacturers, big TVs were on display from LG, Sony, and Samsung, but those booths actually featured mostly stuff that wasn’t TVs, because apparently they think that everyone wants a washing machine that you can control with Alexa. (Hint: I kind of doubt they do.)

There was no real gimmick this year, other than I suppose 8K which is something no one is going to buy. I spent a decent amount of time in the LG and Samsung booths, sussing out the trends.

LG has always been a little behind the times at CES. They were the last manufacturer at the show to show a 3D TV (two years ago) and just like every year their booth started with a massive display of televisions, which you had to walk through to get to anything.

I couldn’t really get close enough to their rollup TV to get a picture but yes, they have a TV that rolls up. It’s a total gimmick and most likely will never amount to anything. It’s a neat idea but if you’re looking for something that disappears you’re more likely to want a short throw projector. They’re not as bright but projector technology has really improved a lot in the past few years.

Samsung, for their part, really laid off the televisions, which is pretty smart because they were trying to sell a premium home experience and while their televisions are great, people think of things like robots and internet-enabled refrigerators when they think home luxury. At least that’s how Samsung sees it anyway.

Their big announcement (literally) was the Wall TV, which was made of individual panels so it could keep scaling up as needed, until it covered the entire wall. As shown, it was 146 inches but could probably go bigger if you wanted. The big difference here is that unlike conventional video walls, there is absolutely no visible gap between panels.

Will Samsung actually make it? Probably, since they’ve made their other CES stuff (like their 100″ TV from a few years back) but they won’t make very many and it will cost way too much. Considering that you can get a 70″ TV for under $2500 now, this is probably not something you really need.

All in all, the big announcements on TVs were that pretty much everyone has a TV that will work with Google Assistant, Alexa, or both. It’s just a given I suppose, although someone is going to have to explain to me how saying “I want to watch Black Mirror ” is faster than pushing buttons on your remote. But whatever, it’s this year’s big thing and I’m sure by next year we’ll be on to something else.

Overall, while the Central Hall was busy, it wasn’t wall-to-wall packed like it has been in previous years and there were a lot of places where it didn’t feel busy at all. The major manufacturer booths seemed to get even bigger this year and they still felt crowded. You have to wonder how Samsung, LG, and Panasonic can justify the costs, since they’re probably not doing real business here. This is just fancy advertising for them.

Tomorrow it’s off to the auto-oriented North Hall!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.