CES is upon us, and things are off to an impressive start. Toshiba detailed the Cell TV and Samsung showed off some impressive LED backlit sets as well as some plasmas. Oh, and every single company talked about 3D.
Though LG’s press conference started the day, it was Toshiba’s that brought the first bit of really exciting news. The much lauded Cell TV will be making its way to the US. It’s not priced or dated yet, but we know a lot about what may be a real game changer of a television.
Toshiba’s Cell does more than any other television on the market today. It handles 3D content like a champ. The 480Hz refresh rate may seem a bit excessive at first, but it’s there for reason. 3D video requires two simultaneous pictures to be shown, which cuts television refresh rates in half. By using 480Hz technology, the Cell TV is able to show 3D at a still impressive 240Hz.
It’s all part of Toshiba’s new plan to avoid the rush to the bottom. During the press conference they said that people who know quality will pay for quality, and they’ll pay for the Cell TV.
The Cell has a few more features not found on other sets. Your Blu-ray player or receiver is the traditional sources for upscaling your standard definition signals, but the Cell can do it too. It’s a nice feature for television signals, or for the built in DVD (not Blu-ray) player. It even goes a step further than that with net content upscaling and eliminating compression and noise; handy since it streams Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow and more.
It’s also got a 1TB hard drive, wireless HDMI, WiFi, and a video phone option that will upscale to 1080p.
In addition to the Cell TV, Toshiba announced ten new series of televisions – seven of which will be LED backlit – and a 3D Blu-ray player.
Samsung’s press conference was packed to the brim with people waiting to see the latest and greatest. In addition to the impressive LED LCD television lines, Samsung showed off an MP3 player called the Samsung Ice Touch. It’s got a 2” transparent OLED display, which Samsung says is ideal for touch screen users. Since you can see right through the screen, it can be controlled from behind, so your fingers don’t cover the screen that you’re trying to navigate.
They also mentioned the Samsung Mobile TV, a mobile device that you can watch television shows on. Details were sparse, but it’s based on the Samsung Moment, and a trial run will start in Washington D.C this spring.
Of course, 3D is the focus of Samsung’s new efforts, and they brought on Jeffery Katzenberg of Dreamworks to announce a new partnership with the content company. 3D is the future, says Samsung, and their new mission statement is to “Inspire the world, create the future.”
In addition to 3D televisions that convert 2D to 3D in real time like Toshiba’s Cell, Samsung announced that they’ll be releasing 3D Blu-ray players, active shutter glasses, and even 3D HTiB’s. Samsung was quick to assure us that these products all meet the Blu-ray and Broadcast 3D standards.
Panasonic, like its competition, was quick to announce their plan to dominate the 3D market. Panasonic does have one distinct advantage in that they provide an end to end solution. They have 3D TVs and Blu-ray players, but also the first prosumer level 3D video camera. It costs $21,000, and it looks like an overblown viewmaster, but it’s the cheapest way to film 3D yet.
Panasonic announced a partnership with DirecTV, which will debut a trio of 3D channels this summer, just after the spring launch of Panasonic’s 3D Viera televisions. Partners providing content for the 3D channel will include CBS, NBC, MTV, and Fox Sports.
'Avatar' producer Jon Landau took the stage to talk about all the Panasonic gear used in the filming and production of 'Avatar,' and said that he sees 3D video as the new stereo sound. “At first,” he said “stereo was a novelty, and now we’ve come to expect it.”
The new Viera Plasma V series is 3D capable and will have WiFi built right in. The most interesting addition to Panasonic’s television line may be Skype, which will allow video calling right from the television. They’ll also be bringing a 3D Blu-ray player with HDMI 1.4 specification support.
On the non-3D front, Panasonic announced their new BD-85. It’s a Blu-ray player with built in WiFi and an impressive load time. It’s one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” statements, but Panasonic claims a half second load time for Blu-ray discs.
They’ll also be bringing out the B15 Portable Blu-ray player that features the Viera Cast network and built in WiFi, and an HTiB with subs built right in to the left and right channel speakers.
Don’t forget to keep checking back to High-Def Digest for more updates direct from the show floor at CES.