With the Consumer Electronics Show just getting started in Las Vegas (the event runs January 9-12) we’re already starting to get inundated with tons of pretty displays to ogle at. CES may be a lot of things, but it’s often all about extremes. Companies will be showcasing technology that’s still a long ways off from ever becoming mainstream and, for those things that may be commercially available in the near future, they’re often incredibly expensive. Many of the products shown off are things that most of us could only dream of owning, but at least the show affords people a glimpse of things to come. Realistically, it’s also about driving investor interest by showcasing various things these companies are working on in order to show that they are truly leaders in the industry.
That all said, though, CES also shows us some of the things that are going to be hitting the mainstream, even if they would be considered far less exciting than things like Samsung’s new 146-inch TV called “The Wall.”
Samsung is one of the companies that’s really taking off at CES already, showing off the aforementioned behemoth of a modular TV, but also demoing their new 8K Q9S TV (yes, you read that right: four times the resolution of a 4K TV!). At 7680×4320, the Q9S has an amazingly high resolution, even for a panel of its size (85 inches). Also, it faces the issue of there being pretty much no 8K content available to view on it. That’s not a problem for Samsung, though, as they claim the TV’s “AI” is capable of smart scaling, learning from the various sources you feed it in order to get better at scaling almost any resolution up to its massive 8K native resolution, resulting in what they say will be an amazingly sharp viewing experience. Samsung has also spent a good deal of time talking about their MicroLED display technology — the company’s answer to LG’s popular high-end OLED displays that are capable of reaching ultra deep black levels. These MicroLEDs will also be able to turn off completely (much like an OLED display’s pixels can), resulting in very rich images.
Most of that stuff from Samsung is well beyond the true consumer market at this time, but thankfully companies like Hisense and TCL (both relative newcomers to the North American TV scene) have stepped up to fill in some gaps. Hisense will be offering a new lineup of 4K TVs sometime this year, ranging from the super high-end H10E TV (featuring a whopping 2,200 nits of peak brightness) all the way down to their more budget-friendly H8E and H6E displays. The top-of-the-line H10E will only come in a 75-inch variety, but will feature a massive 1,076 local dimming zones (to deliver life-like black levels), a 120Hz native display, and use an Android TV system that works with Alexa and Google Home. The H9E+ has many of the same features, but lacks the quantum-dot color touted by the premium model. The more budget friendly models should also still be pretty excellent purchases, with options going up to 65-inches and featuring full HDR10 support.
More exciting to me is TCL bringing back its very popular P series of TVs, now branded as the TCL 6 Series. The 6 Series will feature both 55- and 65-inch models, both of which come with three HDMI 2.0a ports (allowing for HDR support on every port), Dolby Vision and HDR10 support, enhanced contrast control zones, a new feature called “HDR Pro Gamma,” wide color gamut, and “240Hz Natural Motion.” TCL also says that a 5 Series will be available, featuring displays ranging from 45 to 65 inches, and offering essentially the same features, minus the sleek metal design the 6 Series will have. Both lines of TVs should start becoming available this spring and make for some excellent options for those in the market for a higher-end display that’s easier on your wallet.
With CES having only just started, there’s plenty more mainstream (and extremely high-end!) stuff to look forward to!
8K will be best for sports, gaming or film-based (not digitally shot) movie remasters (or re-remasters) until there’s content available, but I don’t even want to know what kind of bandwidth one will need to post videos or stream games. Not to mention the price points will be too high for anyone but the wealthy early adopters who buy in right away and start hoping they’ll get content they want.