The 2021 CES show kicks off today. As we all know by now, the show is 100% digital, although it’s still not clear what that’s going to mean. The official start point of the show is the Verizon keynote this evening. There’s expected to be a lot of chest-thumping about Verizon 5G. I’m sure it’s designed to combat some recent reports that Verizon’s 5G service is both slower and more power-sapping than its current LTE service.
The show floor opens tomorrow
From the best that I’m able to tell, the digital show floor isn’t open today. That’s ok, since the CES folks say it will be open for 30 days starting tomorrow. That gives me the opportunity to report on other stuff as I find it. Still it’s a bit of a disappointment that there’s not even a preview of what we’ll see.
Several larger outlets are reporting that their bloggers aren’t looking forward to a virtual show floor. I’m on the other side of that. Having seen what CEDIA Expo and others have done — basically a glorified online directory — I’m hoping that some of the exhibitors have done something to create some sort of immersive experience. It is yet to be seen.
The CES folks stubbornly waited until summertime to announce their all-digital show, and that may have put too much pressure on exhibitors to deliver a good show experience in time.
Let’s get the big TVs out of the way
CES seemed a bit aimless until the mid-2000s when they were able to capitalize on something that everyone wanted to see: big TVs. I was at CES back in 2006 and I remember the magic of seeing a 50″ flat TV on display. Such a TV would someday adorn every home, we were told, and for a reasonable price. Surprisingly, that prediction turned out to be true.
Having glommed onto the big TV as a halo product, however, the folks at CES are still putting them front and center 15 years later. These days, a TV that seemed miraculous a generation ago is easily purchased anywhere for under $500. The truly expensive TVs have features most folks will never use. Of course, many of the TVs shown at CES end up never making it to market at all. Let’s take a look at the top two companies and what they’re trying to impress us with.
A note about photos
I’m sourcing photos for this article from The Verge, and I’ll credit them whenever possible. The simple fact is that travel is out of the question for me and so I wasn’t able to attend the private events where photos were taken.
Samsung’s presentation this year is all about quality. I think that’s great… in past year they’ve been focused more on style. It’s nice to see a stylish TV but let’s be honest. You want to watch the TV, not just admire it as an art piece. It’s nice to have options, though. Now that Samsung spent a couple of years giving us stylish ones it’s nice that they’re back to giving us good-looking ones.
Case in point, their new QLED line of 8K TVs. Samsung is making a lot of claims about their new MicroLED technology. This new tech gives you an even better looking picture than traditional OLED by using a huge number of incredibly small LEDs. You have to figure that their previous experience in smartphone screens has helpe them there.
Personally it’s hard to imagine any TV looking better than last year’s 8K TVs, but if they want to push the bounds of quality display, that’s bound to be good for everyone.
The other stuff they shouldn’t really crow about
Samsung’s CES press release gives us two other so-called improvements that aren’t really improvements. They talk about their solar-recharging remote. That’s great but let’s be honest it’s not new tech. And even more honest, do they really think that people who buy high-end TVs use the OEM remote? Of course not, they integrate it all into a tablet anyway.
The other thing they like to crow about is that they’re nowusing “eco packaging.” I gotta tell you dear readers, that’s horse hockey. What they mean is that they’ve made the boxes even more boring. That’s fine. No one buys a TV based on the box anyway. They tout a reduction in ink use, but all printing inks have been soy based for a decade anyway.
When you think LG TVs, the first word coming to mind might be “vaporware.” This was the company that showed us the roll-up TV two years ago that still hasn’t hit the market. This year’s excitement is a partially transparent TV that sits at the foot of your bed.
Um, ok. I’m not sure this is going to make anyone happy. The TV comes up slowly and goes back down, but then when it’s down it’s not like it’s hidden. Take a look at this photo:
So yeah, it’s just a big TV at the foot of the bed. I think you’re supposed to care that it’s transparent, but what are you looking at through the screen anyway?
So now that’s out of the way
Keep reading The Solid Signal Blog for our coverage of CES 2021, what there is of it. We’ll give you the perspective that you won’t get anywhere else.