CES always hosts its share of jaw dropping prototype TVs that will take years and years to make it to market, but overall the direction of consumer TV development is easy to follow. In 2009, LED edgelighting started to appear. In 2010, 3D ruled the show. In 2011, TV apps started moving into full-on "smart TV" territory. And in 2012, LG's continuing on with those same priorities, pushing smart TV functionality alongside a growing range of 3D TVs and a very fancy OLED that fits into that jaw dropping, not-for-the-average-consumer category.
LG's press conference covered the usual sales statistics for its TV business in 2012, then looked ahead to what's coming this year. Smart TV and 3D are leaving the way, but there were still a couple surprises: namely limited support for Google TV (it's not dead yet!) and a heavy focus on passive 3D technology.
LG's 84-inch LCD TV boasts an "Ultra Definition" display that packs in 8 million pixels with a 3840x2160 resolution.
LG drove home the point that passive technology has a real place in the 3D market, despite the industry's early reliance on active shutter glasses. The company reported that passive 3D now represents 30 percent of the market, and LG owns 20 percent of that figure. They passed Sony and are gunning for Samsung's market lead. The company's also working on glasses-free 3D technology using head tracking, but on the TV front it's all about cheap, light passive glasses.
Over half of LG's 2012 TV models will be 3D capable or smart TVs; those models are separate from a special Google TV display. The company's Cinema 3D Smart TVs range from 55 inches to an insane 84 inches. That 84-inch model boasts an "Ultra Definition" display that packs in 8 million pixels with a 3840x2160 resolution.
The company is using more LED backlighting in its display this year, which helps it slim down the builds; the 84-inch UHD, for example, measures only 28mm and has a 1mm thick bezel around the screen. LG also had a 3D-capable 55-inch OLED display to show off--we'll probably see a very similar competing display from Samsung at this year's CES as well--and that display measured a scant 4mm thick. The OLED weighed 7.5kg, or about 16.5 pounds.
Sharp's 55-inch OLED will actually be available to consumers later this year, but at a steep, steep price closer to $10,000 than $1,000. When it comes to TVs us normal folks can afford in 2012, most of LG's advancements are coming on the smart TV front.
The company's premium TVs are driven by a dual-core ARM CPU/quad-core GPU platform (dubbed the L9), and LG's working in a host of new features to make this year's smart TVs better than 2011's. Look for some kind of 3D gesture support (think Kinect for your TV interface), better scrolling and menu navigation and voice recognition, Wi-Fi screen mirroring and WiDi support.