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Steve's Blog CES 2012

Discussion in 'CES Consumer Electronics Show 2013' started by Steve Withers, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Steve Withers

    Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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    Press Day - Life's good but apparently it also happens in 3D

    Well today is Press Day here at CES – the show proper doesn't kick off until tomorrow – and all the big manufacturers had their press conferences with LG kicking things off as usual. There were no real surprises as LG had sneak peaked a lot of their new products last week but it was the first chance for journalists to see them in the flesh. For some reason, despite already announcing most of their new products, there was a lot of paranoia around the LG stand, with the 55” OLED being kept under wraps and only being unveiled briefly at the press conference like some magician's rabbit. As a result we didn't get a chance to see the 55” OLED but we will be able to take a good look tomorrow morning and give you our thoughts then. In terms of release and pricing, we can expect to see the 55” OLED out in the second half of this year but at a decidedly enthusiast price of 7 to 8 grand.

    We did manage to get a look at LG's 85” Ultra Definition (4K) TV which certainly looked nice although unsurprisingly they were only showing 1080p content on it. The lack of any actual 4K content will be an issue when it comes to marketing these displays but there are rumours of some kind of new 4K delivery system being announced tomorrow. Still LG's 4K panel does include their Cinema 3D technology which means they can now genuinely deliver full 1080p passive 3D, which as a fan of passive 3D certainly sounds interesting.

    The theme of Cinema extends to LG's new line-up of LED LCD TVs which boast incredibly thin bezels to give what they refer to as a cinema screen effect. To be honest the thin bezels, silver styling and redesigned stands bear more than a passing resemblance to Samsung's 2011 line-up but they certainly were attractive and with the inclusion of enhanced Smart TV features and, in the case of two models LG's Nano technology, offer a strong line-up this year. Unfortunately when asked, LG could not confirm the number of local dimming zones on the Nano TVs or whether any of the Cinema 3D TVs would be THX certified in the UK. These new Cinema 3D TVs will begin shipping in the UK in April but there were no details on pricing just yet.

    LG are clearly pushing their Cinema 3D line-up of LED LCD TVs, so much so that their plasmas have been relegated to a corner like a bunch of ginger haired step-children. There will be a range of new plasmas in 2012 and these will include active shutter 3D, THX certification for 2D and 3D, Smart TV and for the top of line plasmas a new dark filter but based on what was on display at CES, we have to wonder how long LG will continue to support plasma technology.

    Other new launches from LG include an enhanced version of their Smart TV platform, the inclusion of Google TV and dual-core processors to improve the speed of Smart TV content. There is also more content sharing functionality, an improved magic remote with voice control, dual play for two player gaming (a clever way of using their passive technology for more than just 3D) and a 9.1 all-in-one audio system. Overall it was a fairly impressive line-up from LG and in 2012 life could indeed be good for them.

    Panasonic also held their press conference, which was notable by the lack of detail on their new products, especially when it came to their TV line-up. Whilst they mentioned there will be VT, GT and ST plasmas, (no surprises there), as well as WT and DT LCD TVs being launched, there was no mention of any technical specifications. Instead they concentrated on energy efficiency and green products which culminated in the appearance of Ed Begley Jr. who is best known to me as Peter ‘James' Bond, the original drummer for Spinal Tap, who died in a mysterious gardening accident.

    Panasonic admitted that 3D hadn't sold as well as they had hoped in 2011, but assured us that 2012 would be the ‘year of 3D'. They certainly realize that the lack of 3D content is an issue and are thus committed to developing relationships to create more 3D material for consumers. These include a sponsorship deal with DirecTV's 3D channel in the states, more content from both Hollywood and independent producers and broadcasting the London Olympics in 3D. Panasonic said they expect to sell 7 million 3D TVs and 9 million 3D Blu-ray players, with 93% of their plasma TVs being 3D capable and 40% of their LCD TVs. Panasonic mentioned the comment that Martin Scorsese made when asked why he shot Hugo in 3D – because life happens in 3D but you have to hope 3D fares better than that film's box office given the amount of importance Panasonic are placing on the format.

    With other manufacturers like LG launching 4K displays this year, Panasonic were not to be out done had one of their own, but unfortunately, it was a 20” 4K monitor aimed at the professional market. In fact a lot of the products that Panasonic showed at the press conference were aimed more at the professional market such as their ‘Tough Pad' tablet and cloud based systems.

    The majority of Panasonic's press conference was dedicated to their Viera Connect internet platform and showed how they planned to develop the service in 2012, with improved integration and a better interface. To be honest most of the new features appear quite similar to Samsung's existing Smart TV platform, with features such as internet browsing, and content searching. As far as improved interface is concerned there will be a Touch pad remote control and a Skype communication device designed to allow people to use Skype on the move, which I thought you already could do with a tablet.

    Panasonic's final announcement related to their partnership with Myspace TV, presumably in a move to counter LG and Sony's involvement with Google TV. They brought Justin Timberlake on stage to tell how the TV used to be the social centre of our lives, and thanks to Myspace it was going to be again. They then showed us a video of people watching TV all on their own, whilst keeping in touch with their friends, via iPads, iPhones an Apple computers. I guess with Timberlake's involvement in Myspace TV we can look forward to seeing a dick on the box, as well as in it.

    Overall Panasonic's press conference was something of a disappointment but hopefully we'll be able to get excited again when we take a look at their new line-up in detail tomorrow.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  2. Chauvinnais

    Chauvinnais Member

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    I don't know where you get the energy to fit everything in like you do. Brilliant on Scorsese.

    Thanks and best wishes.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  3. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Active Member

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    I am glad to see the Jet-Lag has not dampened your sense of humour :)

    Have fun.

    Adam
  4. Mark Hodgkinson

    Mark Hodgkinson Reviewer & News Writer Staff Member

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    I just hope Justin's legal team aren't reading:D

    Nice one Steve:)
  5. vism

    vism Active Member

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  6. vism

    vism Active Member

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  7. angliaboy

    angliaboy Member

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    Thanks for the info, just got my tape measure out to see how epic that 85" TV would look on the wall in my 4m x 4m lounge. :D

    Projector will still be a cheaper bet though I'd imagine
  8. toddy28

    toddy28 Active Member

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    Silly question if they can make a 4k display how hard would it be for them to make some of there own content to show on it , it's like shooting your self in the foot when showing off new tech
  9. MrGrumpie

    MrGrumpie Active Member

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    Shame that the trend continues of more bells n whistles on TVs, rather than focusing on quality. Although that said, OLED is looking interesting...
  10. Chauvinnais

    Chauvinnais Member

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    I don't think your question is silly. Some think it's like running modern software on ancient hardware. I'm not so certain as the upscaling technology to show current 2k stuff to 4k is with us. The recent http://www.avforums.com/forums/vide...-sony-vw1000-4k-projector-avforums-event.html showed that to some effect.

    Regarding 4K native I would put a tenner on this revolutionary product to surpass the impact of DVD in Hollywood at inception. It's anecdotal generally to claim that neither BD nor 3D has captured as many bucks as the transition from VHS but I think that the future is the 4Kway. The shame is that not everybody has the visual acuity needed to appreciate the stuff. Are there any ophthalmologists out there who could add practical comments on this point?
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  11. Mark Hodgkinson

    Mark Hodgkinson Reviewer & News Writer Staff Member

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    I'm not an optician but if I would offer, 'Move the chair closer'. :)
  12. Chauvinnais

    Chauvinnais Member

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    :thumbsup:
  13. vism

    vism Active Member

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    If you put a lightly compressed blu-ray against an ultra HD on anything less than 80 Inches, I reckon you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

    I remember going to a demo of blu-ray that was shown on a 3-4 metre projection screen, I was sitting 2-3 metres away and I could see the film grain but no digital artefacts at all.
  14. Steve Withers

    Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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    Well, CES 2012 started in earnest today and I can say that based upon the crowds, attendance definitely seems to be up on last year. It certainly made shooting the videos problematic with some products difficult to even get to and people constantly walking into shot but Phil and I persevered and hopefully there will be plenty of great content for you to watch over the next few days.

    After all the cloak and dagger antics yesterday, we finally got a chance to see LG's new 55” OLED TV in action and on first viewing we were very impressed. Now of course we always need to caveat any initial impressions we have of a new product by pointing out that a show floor hardly offers ideal viewing conditions but the EM960V certainly caught our attention. The images looked quite spectacular with beautifully rendered colours, excellent off axis performance, deep blacks and impressive motion handling thanks to a response time that LG claims is 1,000 times faster than their previous LED LCD TVs. The panel itself is only 4mm thick resulting in an incredibly thin display that is only half the weight of a comparably sized LED LCD TV. The look of the display itself was also very attractive with a silver finish and LG's ‘cinema screen' design that results in virtually no bezel. In addition, as LG's flagship product, the EM960V will also include the latest iteration of LG's Smart TV internet platform and the L9 chip set with dual core processing, as well as Cinema 3D of course. LG won't be releasing the EM960V until the second half of this year and the pricing will certainly be aimed at the enthusiast but it is definitely a TV to look out for.

    Not to be outdone by their Korean competitors, Samsung also launched their new OLED TV at CES and they seem to have developed some of the same paranoia that infected LG yesterday, with security guards around the stand and no photographs allowed, except of course for the press. As with LG's offering, the picture on Samsung's OLED TV looked equally as spectacular, with beautifully rendered colours, excellent off axis performance, deep blacks and impressive motion handling. As with the LG OLED TV, our initial impressions are subject to less than ideal viewing conditions and unknown source content but again the images we saw looked spectacular. The design of this TV was also very attractive with an ultra slim black bezel and a silver back. It's ironic that just as other manufacturers are copying the silver finish of Samsung's 2011 line-up, they themselves have returned to a more traditional black bezel. However, the results speak for themselves and this is a TV that will look good whether it's on or off. We weren't able to get any detailed specifications today but we will be back at the Samsung stand tomorrow, where we will take a closer look at this TV and hopefully get an idea of any release dates or potential pricing.

    Whilst LG and Samsung showed off their new OLED TVs, Sony delivered one of the highlights of the show so far with their Crystal LED TV. This new concept was being shown as part of Sony's Future Technology stand so it is still in the prototype stages but as a display technology it shows real potential. The idea behind Crystal LED is that instead of the usual white LEDs being used to illuminate an LCD panel, there is no backlight or LCD panel, instead each pixel is composed of three LEDs - a red one, a green one and a blue one. This means that the new LED substrat panel itself consists of two million pixels made up of six million individual LEDs. We have often joked that the only (LCD) local dimming that would be truly effective is one that can dim each pixel individually and why bother since this is what plasma already does. However, this new CLED TV's ability to individually control each pixel is exactly what is offered and as such it delivers an incredibly plasma-like image. Both Phil and I were very impressed with this new technology and the resulting pictures were breathtaking, with rich colours, incredibly deep blacks and superb motion handling. Obviously since this was just a prototype, any launch is still some way off but between LG and Samsung's OLED TVs and Sony's new Crystal LED, you have to wonder if plasma's days are numbered.

    Speaking of plasmas, after yesterday's rather disappointing press conference, we finally got a chance to take a closer look at Panasonic's 2012 line-up. It should be stressed that the models being launched at CES are the US versions and we won't see the UK models being announced until Panasonic's own European Conference in February, however the US models should give us an indication of what to expect. Speaking with Panasonic today, they explained that Smart Viera is an entire design philosophy based around the four key concepts of image quality, interactivity, interface and features. In terms of picture quality, Panasonic's new plasma line-up will all include new drive technology and cell structure as well a revised panel design. All the 2012 plasmas will come will Full HD progressive 3D and a new black filter that gets progressively darker as the models get higher. The GT and VT models include THX certification for 2D and 3D and nearly 25,000 gradations in colour to deliver a much cleaner image. Unfortunately all the TVs had their frame interpolation on and the content being shown was heavily compressed, so it was difficult to really judge the actual image quality but we'll get a better chance to do that at the Panasonic European Conference in a month. In terms of the look of the new models, we really couldn't see any major differences to last year, although were pleased to see that Panasonic have removed the silver trim on the inside of the bezel for the GT model.

    In terms of Panasonic's LCD range there will be the DT and WT models, both of which will use IPS panels for a wider angle of viewing, have improved motion handling and include Full HD progressive 3D. The new models will come in larger screen sizes than were available last year and includes a redesigned chassis that as with most other manufacturers this year, resembles Samsung's recent TV designs.

    In terms of the interactivity of the new Viera line-up, Panasonic have added the updated version of Viera Connect which includes a content searching function and improved web browsing similar to those found on Samsung's Smart TV platform. There will also be improved features for content sharing and for social networking, as well as an improved interface through Apple and Android tablets and smart phones.

    We mentioned yesterday that Panasonic announced a 24” 4K monitor and whilst this is clearly intended for the professional market, it does at least show that the company is working on ultra high resolution displays. We had a look at the 24” 4K monitor and we were amazed at how much more detailed the 4K image was, even on a screen that small and whilst Panasonic obviously couldn't comment, hopefully we should see larger 4K panels aimed at the consumer market, or will we?

    Tomorrow we'll be taking a closer look at Samsung's new line-up, as well as new offerings from Sharp and Toshiba, so come back tomorrow for more news, videos and thoughts from CES 2012.
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    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  15. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Appreciating its incredibly difficult in the environment of a trade show but........any chance you guys can comment on sound quality of the various super dooper thin panels as well as the PQ? I don't want to rely on firing up a 1kw cinema amp to watch the tv - and presumably the thinner these panels become the worse the sound gets??
  16. MrGrumpie

    MrGrumpie Active Member

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    Funniest thing I've heard all day :laugh:
  17. Suave

    Suave Active Member

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    Hi,

    So, which was better/more impressive - The OLEDS or the CLED?

    Suave!
  18. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Posted purely for your entertainment. Glad you enjoyed ;) doubt if you heard it though like the guys there didnt.
  19. Steve Withers

    Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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    Day two of CES kicked off with a return visit to the Samsung stand to take a look at the rest of their line-up after yesterday's OLED excitement. As the world's biggest TV manufacturer there is always a lot interest in their new displays, both in terms of LED LCD and plasma, and this year is no exception.

    As far as their plasma line-up goes, Samsung had the latest versions of their entry level 5 Series, as well as their 6 and 7 Series and the top of the range 8 Series on show. It was good to see that Samsung still have an extensive line up of plasmas and it was also encouraging to see them prominently on display and not tucked in a corner like at the LG stand. The first thing you notice about the new line-up, is that whilst many of the other manufacturers have copied Samsung's silver design from last year, Samsung themselves have returned to a more traditional black bezel and stand, including the love it or hate it quad foot. Personally I've always preferred a black bezel and I certainly found the new models very attractive to look at.

    All the models from the 6 Series and up will have the Real Black Pro filter that is designed to reject ambient light and improve the perceived black levels. Obviously a show floor is never the best place to determine picture quality, and often manufacturers use content designed to emphasise certain attributes of the display, but the blacks certainly did look good on the 6, 7 and 8 Series plasmas. It can be safely assumed that the 6, 7 and 8 Series displays will also include 3D capability but it was interesting that Samsung really weren't promoting 3D at all on their stand, especially in comparison to last year.

    Samsung are, however, heavily promoting their already excellent Smart TV platform, which has undergone some refinements under the banner of Smart Evolution. The 6, 7 and 8 Series will all include Smart TV and there will also be a slot feature that will allow Smart TV upgrades to future proof your set. In the case of the 7 and 8 Series Samsung are also including the dual-core processor which significantly speeds up the display's internet capability. According to the Samsung staff at the stand, the only real difference between the Series 7 and 8, is the inclusion of a camera and microphone built into the bezel which allows for both motion and voice control. In addition there will be face recognition features and you can use the camera and microphone to make Skype video calls to friends and family. This latter development has been on the cards for some time, but the possibility of your Mum suddenly making a video call via the TV means you might need to be more careful about what you are, or aren't, wearing.

    Whilst Samsung remain a major manufacturer of plasma panels, the majority of their sales come from LED LCD TVs and here at CES they had their latest 6, 7 and 8 Series models on display. As with the plasma displays, the LED LCD displays have undergone a face lift and now have black ultra-thin bezels, and in the case of the 8 Series a silver trim on the outside of the bezel. Once again we prefer the black bezel and found Samsung's new design very attractive to look at. As far as new features go, the new LED LCD's will include micro Dimming which is designed to provide more precise local dimming, although just how precise wasn't divulged. As with the plasmas the new line-up will include active shutter 3D, Smart TV with upgrade ports and, in the case of the high end models, dual core processing. However, unlike the plasmas, both the 7 and 8 Series LED LCD displays will include built in cameras and microphones, although due to the far thinner bezels, these appear as a bump at the top of the chassis.

    I would love to give you more information in terms of the technical specifications for both the plasma and LED LCD TVs but Samsung have placed an embargo on this information and won't be releasing it until after CES. Aside from the obvious frustration this causes us in our attempts to bring you as much information as possible, it also seems to negate the whole point of launching products at a big show like CES. However, this air of paranoia has pervaded the entire show, especially when it comes to the two Korean giants who both seemed convinced that the other was trying to steal their technologies. Mind you given the obvious similarities between the two manufacturers product lines, all I can say is despite this new cold war, they're clearly not doing a very good job at keeping their secrets.

    Speaking of LG, Samsung also had a 70” 4K Ultra High Definition on display, although it wasn't a new model, more a proof of concept. Samsung's view is that since there is currently no 4K content available, there really isn't any point in launching a 4K panel at the current time. However, they wanted to show that they are perfectly capable of manufacturing a 4K panel when a consumer based delivery system for 4K is eventually released. However, we did actually see some native 4K material on screen which made a pleasant change.

    On the audio side of things, Samsung also had a number of dual dock sound systems on display, which perhaps not surprisingly are designated the 5, 6 and 7 Series. The idea behind the Dual Dock is to include two docking interfaces, one for either an Apple device or a Galaxy Tab and the other for a USB Android device. Samsung are apparently unable to include interfaces for both an Apple device and a Galaxy Tab in the same dock due to licensing agreements, hence the two versions. All three models allow for the dock to be retracted when not in use and they include remote control and other audio inputs. The 5 and 6 Series share a striking and rather unusual horn shaped body, with the 5 Series coming in gloss white and the larger 6 Series coming in gloss black. The 7 Series has a different design, looking more like a glossy black block and, interestingly, includes a valve pre-amp combined with a digital power amp to give the sound a warmer feel. All three are certainly attractive and offer an elegant solution to anyone wishing to dock different devices to the same sound system.

    Samsung also had their latest soundbars on display, with a number of different models depending on your needs. Obviously with TVs getting thinner and thinner, their built-in sound has been getting poorer and poorer because, after all, you can't change the laws of physics. However, a soundbar can offer an elegant alternative to anyone who is dissatisfied with the built-in sound on their TV and you can buy different sized models depending on the width of your TV. Samsung have three main models, the first two of which are the HW-E350 which has a built in subwoofer for those who don't have room for a separate one and the HW-E450 which comes with wireless subwoofer. The third model is the HW-E551 which includes a design that matches the 8 Series styling, as well as a separate subwoofer and the ability to split the soundbar into two separate speakers for use as a stereo pair either side of the TV. For those who want a more immersive sound experience, Samsung also have two all-in-one surround sound systems, a 5.1 version and a 7.1 version with additional height speakers. Hopefully we will get a chance to review some of the audio products later in the year.

    Tomorrow we will be stomping the show floor yet again to bring you the latest information from the Enthusiasts point of view...
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    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  20. mjcairney

    mjcairney Active Member

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    A very interesting read - many thanks. :)

    Cheers,

    Martin.
  21. Scooby2000

    Scooby2000 Moderator Staff Member

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    Some great observations, bit like a reporter on the front line lol.

    Have sales dropped so low they need to be so secretive?:rolleyes: All they seem to be doing is keeping stuff from the consumer, they all know what the others doing, its quite clear.:rolleyes:


    Why are LG hiding their plasmas? whats the point of making them if youre just going to promote LCD? Doesnt make you want to go buy one when the manufacturer seems ashamed of their own product.lol
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  22. Pecker

    Pecker Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's all LED...

    ...unless you want a projector which isn't either (a) a toy or (b) doesn't require a second mortgage.

    Where are the low-priced home cinema LED projectors?

    Steve W
  23. panman40

    panman40 Well-Known Member

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    It does seem ridicolous Scoob when after all CES is supposed to be for Manufacturers to show there wares :rolleyes:, Why on earth cant they give some specs out other than the Smart Nonsense which i have zero interest in :facepalm:
  24. scifipaul

    scifipaul Member

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    So are they going to upgrade the 8000 series led this year?
    If so with what and what sort of time frame?
  25. Chauvinnais

    Chauvinnais Member

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    I'm picking up on Steve's observation on this Blog that Samsung appear to be pushing the Smart TV thing. For me I can see some mileage in the wireless transmission to various devices from each input on the Smart tele simultaneously ie my eldest daughter can watch a Blue Ray on her tab, my youngest son can watch his Nat Geographic on his , my eldest son can play his XBox360, I can watch the news and my lovely and beautiful wife can watch her choice separately (I can't go on any further as there are eleven in this family). Anyway, with money at a premium, that saves a whole load of dough on duplicating devices throughout the home and for me I can see a window on the future. :rolleyes: Oh. And for me I've got Stormfrontav coming to THX my 64D8000. :clap: It's already excellent to my eye but the review indicated that it could be made reference and I can't wait.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  26. Scooby2000

    Scooby2000 Moderator Staff Member

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    vnsdkjvnsdjnvjdvfdvsdvsvsdovnsdoivosdnvosvosfvnodfsvniosdvfsiovsio:confused:.......sfdsfsdfsdfsdf......makes about as much sense as that to me:laugh:

    I can understand them not talking about EU sets but not talking about their US sets is just odd. Phil and Steve must be dissapointed and Im guessing frustrated too. All this social stuff and smart stuff just gets in the way, why do I want to chat with a freind via text whils watching something? :rolleyes: I have a phone I can call or text on for that. Do you really need to be chatting with your facebook friends whilst watching a game?! maybe Im just getting old but sheesh how much stuff do you need to do at once.:eek:..... Oh got to twitter this and post a blog on that whilst chatting to a mate on myspace at the same time as watching a game and posting something on youtube and being funny on facebook poking Fred, funny bloke fred..must text Sid that joke he made about that other guy Ive never met, whats his name, the guy who knows Joe...oh bugger dint want to miss that, oh well Ill just watch it on Iplayer later after Ive downloaded that funny game Frank told me about....aahh whys this hard drive not working?....oooh whats that..that, green..thi..ng...oh Fu......:suicide:

    Think I need sleep:laugh:
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    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  27. HaRd2BeAr

    HaRd2BeAr Active Member

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    Go to bed mate. ;)
  28. Steve Withers

    Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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    Day 3 kicked off with a visit to the Sharp stand to take a look at what they had to offer for 2012 and the first thing that caught our eye was their 4K panel. Now this was only a prototype but it was setup next to one of their current 1080p displays, with both being fed a 1080i signal, and I have to say the image looked very impressive. I should point out that Sharp were using a 1080i source because that is the most common HDTV broadcast standard in the States but the TV could also accept a full 1080p image from a Blu-ray as well. Obviously there was scaling involved to take the 1080i signal up the panel's full 4K resolution but it appeared to work exceptionally well - without adding any obvious unwanted sharpening - although it is worth pointing out that the demo material was fairly static. However what was really interesting was the addition of extra processing by ICC, which adjusts the brightness within the image to create a greater sense of depth. This really did seem to work but once again the carefully chosen static images make it difficult to really determine how effective the technology actually will be in reality. However it did at least show that in the absence of any 4K content, Sharp are capable of delivering a very impressive image from a 1080 source and this TV promises to be a very interesting product when it is eventually launched.

    Mind you, if we're worried about a lack of 4K content, what about 8K? Yes you read that correctly, Sharp also had an 8K panel on display and when their representative told me that I looked like Alan Grant when John Hammond told him he had a T-Rex in Jurassic Park! What was even more impressive was that they had actual 8K content playing on the display (We presume from NHK in Japan, the only company we know with such camera technology) and it really did look spectacular with an incredible level of detail. One of the shots was a view of Tokyo that was almost identical to the one from my apartment when I lived there, and I almost thought I was looking out of my window. There were also some shots of a shuttle launch and again the level of detail was amazing, making you realise how immersive higher resolution images can be. Now this technology is obviously some years off and given the paucity of 4K content and the fact that even 35mm film only has an effective resolution of around 5K, one wonders what you would ever watch on it. One thing's for sure, if we ever do end up with 8K displays, then George Lucas is going to have to do a lot of scaling to re-release his Star Wars prequels, two of those were shot at 1080p!

    Speaking of the immersive nature of higher definition images and the greater sense of depth that the ICC-4K processing gave to images on Sharp's 4K panel, what about 3D itself? Well just as we saw at the Samsung stand yesterday, there was absolutely no mention of 3D anywhere. When I asked the Sharp representative about this, he said that Sharp now considered 3D as just a feature and given the limited amount of consumer interest, as well as the fact that it isn't a new technology, they felt no need to promote it at CES. This is true of most of the manufacturers and aside from some glasses-free models and Panasonic promoting more 3D content, the only manufacturer still heavily promoting 3D was LG, with their Cinema 3D range. Certainly 3D has gone from big new thing to standard feature in less than two years and you can't help but wonder if the fad is well and truly over.

    As for Sharp's current range, they had their 8 and 9 Series LED LCD TVs on display and I have to say I thought they looked rather good. We've been somewhat critical of Sharp's Quattron technology in the past, mostly because their early models couldn't be calibrated to Rec.709. However their more recent models can be calibrated to Rec.709 and Sharp's use of a full LED backlight array does deliver some impressive images. It was also good to see a company that wasn't afraid to buck the current trend for ultra –thin displays and build a chassis that was large enough to accommodate the LED array, without introducing banding artefacts. This is the problem that has plagued LG's attempts to cram a full LED array into an ultra-thin chassis, which has resulted in the LED arrays sitting too close to the LCD panel and thus being visible. Both the 8 Series and the 9 Series have a full LED backlight array but only the 9 Series includes local dimming, unfortunately Sharp wouldn't disclose the number of dimmable zones in the 9 Series. Whatever the number, the resulting images certainly looked good on the show floor and even though it doesn't have local dimming, the 8 Series also had quite impressive blacks thanks to a matte black filter on the screen that rejected ambient light. The Sharp TVs also came in some impressively large screen sizes, with the 9 Series offering 60” and 70” models and the 8 Series coming in 60”, 70” and 80” models.

    There is one Sharp product that has been generating a lot of interest on the forums recently, in part because it isn't available in the UK, and that is their Elite LED LCD panel. According to Sharp the Elite panel differs from the 9 Series in a number of key areas, including an increased number of dimming zones (although once again they wouldn't disclose the actual number) and a dynamic image feature that takes power not being used to illuminate dark areas of the screen and uses it on brighter areas of the image instead. The Elite model also uses the top 5% of handpicked components and includes both THX and ISF certification. To Sharp's credit, the Elite LED LCD was being shown in a special dark room and the images looked very good, although we could see some possible frame interpolation on 3D content. Is the Elite LED LCD worthy of all the hype? Well that's debatable, there are certainly enough similarities between the Elite and the 9 Series to make that a viable alternative and a good calibrator can make the absence of a THX mode a moot point. After viewing this much hyped TV we are left wondering why it is hyped so much. Yes it is a good TV, there is no doubt about that, but it doesn't offer anything really ground breaking in image terms for an LED LCD and still has the inherent issues of an LCD TV, when viewed critically. It is also very expensive and we are not sure exactly where that extra money goes in actual performance terms.

    Next we headed over to the Toshiba stand and they too had their 4K panel on display, which they refer to as Quad Full High Definition (QFHD). Once again they were showing 1080p content on both their new panel and a regular TV and again the upscaled images looked good but perhaps not quite as impressive as Sharp's prototype. Aside from its 4K capabilities the new Toshiba is a feature packed set, with Smart TV, Media Share, Media Guide, Audyssey, Dynalight, Dynamic Contrast and all the other bells and whistles you would expect from a modern TV.

    However, one of the big reasons for Toshiba developing 4K, despite the absence of any native content, is that the higher resolution allows them to deliver glasses-free 3D at a resolution comparable to normal 3D. Glasses-free 3D or to give its correct name, auto-stereoscopic 3D, uses a lenticular filter to create the alternate eye views without the need for glasses. The problem with this approach is that it reduces the resolution and is very dependent on viewing angles, once you move off axis the 3D effect is lost. The use of a 4K panel helps counter the problems of image resolution, and I can certainly attest to the glasses-free 3D having an acceptable image from a resolution perspective, but that still leaves the viewing angles. To address this problem, Toshiba have created a lenticular filter that allows for multiple viewing angles, well I say multiple but in actual fact there appear to be three different viewing positions. The reason I say this is because Toshiba had placed three markers on the floor, in the shape of black foot prints, to show people where to stand in order to get the full 3D effect. However, even standing in the correct position the 3D wasn't very good, yes it worked and the image had some dimensionality to it but it lacked the immersive depth that you get from a 3D display with glasses.

    The reality is that current glasses-free 3D technology just doesn't work well enough for critical viewing at home and personally I think the technology is better suited for use on commercial displays in places like airports, where the 3D effect on an advert might catch people's attention. In fact there was such a display being shown by a company called TDC and whilst the resolution was rather low the 3D effect was quite pronounced, resulting in objects appearing to poke out of the screen and thus catch your eye, although not literally of course.

    It is difficult for people who haven't been to CES to really understand just how much work is involved, so to give you an idea, here's a picture of me hard at it.
    [​IMG]

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  29. Scooby2000

    Scooby2000 Moderator Staff Member

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    Nice one Steve, love the pic lol
    I was wondering about the Elite hype myself, whilst a great set Im sure it still has all the same LCS issues so how can it as good as the old Kuro?

    8K:eek: Id love to see that, how long do you think it will be? 1080ps taken years to catch on and blurays still only just getting populare. Another 20 years maybe? 10 for 4k? 50 years for an 8k OLED? lol
  30. golden phoenix

    golden phoenix Active Member

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    thats probably the happiest ive seen Steve at CES..as elements of CES have been pretty disappointing. nothing like a couple of hot ladies with feathers to cheer you up! (and of course an 8K tv to go with it)

    alot of this 4K and 8K tvs chat ..seems a lot like manufacturers showing who can pee the furthest...please just concontrate on what we have now and getting the most from that

    especially since were a million miles from all that..

    just because you can ..doesnt mean you should!
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012

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