I’ve just arrived in Las Vegas and here’s a preview of what I expect to see at this year’s 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. As usual, I’ll be on the hunt for the best home theater experience that’s affordable. While audio and video quality are always at the top of my list, it’s also about the experience being seamless. An experience that doesn’t require an engineering degree to get a great picture and awesome sound. What’s also important is being able to find the content you want on your terms: anywhere, any screen and anytime at a reasonable price.
In the world of displays, I’ll be checking out the new OLED displays from LG and Samsung. Will OLED dethrone LED and Plasma? Will OLED become affordable and will the price of plasma and LED sets continue to drop? Will this be the year that sets with 4K video resolution come into the mainstream consumer market?
I remember when I purchased my first HDTV, a Sony WEGA rear-projection set. I really didn’t appreciate what it could do until I upgraded to HD cable and then Blu-ray. I’ll be on the look out for anything that better utilizes the current capabilities of today’s home theater set ups. In some cases, our home theater gear is under utilized because of source limitations. For example, your HDTV can display many more colors than today’s Blu-rays or TV broadcasts provide. In other cases, content does not take advantage of the capabilities of today’s standard formats (i.e. frame rates).
TV manufacturers will attempt to preempt the mysterious and rumored Apple HDTV with new forms of interactivity such as voice commands (did you hear that Siri?). In the battle for the most important real estate in your living room, your TV screen, Google TV has generated the most pre-show hype with planned products from LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio.This is in stark contrast to last year when Google asked manufacturers not to show their Google TV wares. It will also be interesting to see if Microsoft has a follow up announcement to their recent Xbox Dashboard update.
As I learned from my recent comparison of home theater receivers, the set up and configuration of home theater gear needs to be simplified. I’m not just talking about the initial set up but also getting the best picture and sound for a particular TV show or movie. While today’s audio and video gear does a decent job of trying to figure out the optimal audio and video settings, it could still be better. I’ll be looking for gear that utilizes standards such as THX’s new Media Director.
This could also be the year that we see standards introduced for wireless speakers. Right now, there has been little compatibility between different manufacturers’ receivers and speakers. That would be a welcome change. As DTS and Dolby audio formats continue to add more discrete channels (as Gillette adds blades to razors), it would be nice to find a way to get rid of all of those wires. Speaker wires are now the biggest source of clutter in my home theater.
Of course, if I see any other cool tech around tablets, smartphones, cameras or anything else, I’ll share that too.
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