The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show kicks off with a press conference from LG with a focus on smart and simple technology.
It’s early –I specify since in Vegas, 8:00 in the morning could either be early or late – and press members, buyers and other attendees are packed into a midsized conference room that’s filled with inoffensive Weather Channel jazz.
There are rows of video cameras set up behind me, as well as a few HD DSLRs, and all around me people are excited for the first press conference of the day – the thing that really kicks off the show.
The brightly lit stage in front of us has three different projectors set up to show off products, and seven different TVs spread around the stage. Six sit together, one sits apart. The separate TV doesn’t look as slick as the rest of the units on display. Could this be something special – something new - or is it just there for looks?
The conference begins with an intro video from comedian Jane Lynch. It’s nice to see that she’s achieved “pay me to show up at your thing” celebrity status but the video doesn’t have jokes and that just seems to defeat the purpose of bringing Lynch on. It’s not that the jokes aren’t funny – there just aren’t jokes.
The initial announcements from the CEOs and VPs speaking are all about business. The company is doing well where LCDs and plasmas are concerned. LG isn’t doing great in cellphone sales, but they’re #1 in customer satisfaction. They’re also the kings of washer/dryer combos, apparently.
They stress that massive research and development investment they’re making this year though. Twelve billion dollars going to improve and develop new products – not too shabby. We’ll see what happens, but that sounds like a good start.
Dr. Skott Ahn, who might have one of the coolest names ever, is now introduced to show us new technology and developments. Smart TVs, Smart phones and Smart appliances.
To start things off, LG is launching an all new Smart TV platform. It’s got a nice layout that looks like a mix between an Apple product and a cable box. It’s got a launcher bar on the bottom for your main functions, different tabs and quick launch icons on the right and live TV in the upper left corner – much like a cable box.
It’s friendly and familiar, which sounds like the way to go. It gets even simpler though, as LG is introducing a motion control remote.
Motion control isn’t exactly the quickest way to navigate content as the Nintendo Wii makes evident. As a tool for those that just aren’t comfortable with traditional remotes though, it may be key.
LG says that there are three main things consumers want from Smart TVs . They want the ability to grab content from their home network, they want them to be easy to use and they want content. LG is responding to the last part by introducing Hulu Plus and Amazon Video on Demand this year.
The Smart TV upgrader is a set-top box after all. It plugs in via HDMI, so it’s not LG specific. That just raises the question – why would you want one? We didn’t get pricing of full capabilities yet, but it seems like a more general Roku, Boxee or WD product would be a better buy.
3D was a big part of the press event as you might imagine. LG stressed Cinema 3D that uses passive glasses instead of active glasses, promising less headaches, and an elimination of crosstalk. This seems like something we’ll be hearing from a few different companies this year. We’ll have to wait until we go eyes-on to pass any real judgment.
A total of 43 new models are hitting the market from LG this year, half of which will boast Smart TV capabilities. 21 will be LED displays – some of those with the new nano tech – and the higher end LCD and plasma sets will all do 3D.
At the show are two prototypes – a 31 inch OLED 3D TV and a larger scale autostereoscopic 3D TV in addition to the glasses-free portable solution that’s hitting later this year.
LG’s press conference passed over Blu-ray players for the most part, only stopping to mention that several new players will use the LG Smart TV platform and that LG is introducing its first portable Blu-ray player.
The time not spent talking about TVs was primarily focusing on smart appliances, like a washing machine that lets you program your own wash cycles and an oven that can download recipes. It’s the same thing we’ve been hearing about for a while and honestly it all seems like more work than I’m willing to put in to doing a load of laundry.
One standout from the non TV technology is the Optimus 2X, a smartphone that utilizes a dual core processor and offers an HDMI output so you can hook it t your TV to watch files you’ve downloaded and video you’ve recorded.
LG is also bringing a tablet to the show, but sadly they didn’t bring it to their conference. They say it’ll be launch tomorrow, so we’ll be on the lookout.
That wraps up the LG press event. Also on the docket for today are Samsung, Sony and more.