Tech

TVs take centre stage at gadget show

Consumer electronics giants showcase ultra thin and super-high resolution screens at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

LG Electronics showed off a "wallpaper"-thin television as TV makers vied for the spotlight ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially opening in Las Vegas on Friday (Singapore time).

As in years past, the South Korean consumer electronics giant staked out the opening slot in a day rich with press briefings by industry titans.

LG and its rivals touched on hot themes at this year's show - robots, appliances equipped with artificial intelligence, and self-driving car technology.

A surprise star of the presentation was a strikingly thin LG Signature OLED flat-screen TV simply branded W. The super high-definition TV measured just 2.57mm thick in a 65-inch screen model.

LG boasted that a larger screen model garnered a CES Best of Innovation Award. The screens are designed to affix to walls with magnetic brackets, protruding less than 4mm.

Meanwhile, Sony used CES to introduce a stunning A1E series Bravia OLED television, in a shift to image technology that had been terrain-ruled by LG in the US market.

"It renders every detail of an image," Sony Corporation chief executive Kazuo Hirai said of the new flagship TV at the company's booth at the show. "You will see more than you ever thought possible in a display."

Sony eliminated speakers from the A1E series, creating technology that generates rich sound by making the screen vibrate, in what Mr Hirai boasted to be an industry first.

Google's Android TV software for accessing Internet content was also built into the screens, according to the Japanese consumer electronics and entertainment titan.

Mr Hirai also promised a rising sea of 4K resolution content for high-definition screens.

China's fast-growing television maker TCL was also at the show. Aiming to expand its market, it unveiled 25 new Roku-enabled TV models, boasting improved high-definition imagery and enhanced audio.

"We are here today because we are investing in the future of technology, specifically smart TVs," its marketing executive Ranjit Gopi said.

"We are, as of 2016, one of the fastest growing brands in the world."

TCL - whose partners include Google and its Android TV offering - is investing some US$7.7 billion (S$11 billion) in high-quality television screens.

WORLD'S SLIMMEST

It is also aiming to make the world's slimmest curved television, according to Mr Gopi. He introduced a new flagship X series television that will launch in China and then be rolled out elsewhere.

Samsung unveiled a new 75-inch QLED TV model at its CES press gathering, along with a company-first gaming laptop.

"Despite some challenges, we have made big strides in 2016, gaining market share in TVs, home appliances, wearables and smartphones," said Samsung Electronics America chief operating officer Tim Baxter.

"We are delivering on our vision of the future."

Samsung ramped up its smart TV platform with an offering tailored for sports lovers, and added a new entertainment application. Features in the new models include the ability to recognise who is speaking while the TV is being commanded by voice.

The South Korean device maker also showed off a new television built with "Quantum Dot" technology.

Sales of TVs globally have been slipping, a seeming result of viewers turning to smartphones, tablets, and computers for video, according to Mr Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at the US Consumer Technology Association trade group behind CES.

Mr Koenig forecast that US$105 billion (S$150 billion) will be spent this year on television sets, down from US$108 billion last year.

He added that those who do buy TVs, however, are expected to prefer 4K high-definition models, with the number of those screens sold jumping to nearly 82 million this year compared with just shy of 53 million last year. - AFP

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