While PC/Consumer Electronics convergence has undeniably happened, CES is still a consumer electronics show. Our first press conference of the show was with ASUS talking about netbooks, but the next day was full of mostly TV makers discussing their 2009 lineups.

Generally the focus of most TV manufacturers at CES is to talk about how cool their TVs look and go rather light on the technology. This year, as we mentioned in our earlier coverage, we got more meat for our minute - we rarely heard about 100”+ TVs and instead got a real dose of technology.


Large TVs were in Vegas this year, they just weren't the focus of the show. Photography by Laura Johnston.

So forgive me while I talk about a less PC, but very technology oriented element of this year’s CES: LCD TVs.

Wireless Inputs are In

I already mentioned that last year’s CES was very much a displays show. Nearly every manufacturer either had a focus on having the thinnest TVs or the largest screen size. As with most pissing contests, at the end of it you tend to feel a bit silly; so this year we saw less glam and more functional features.

Here’s the problem. LCD and Plasma TVs are dropping in prices. While that alone isn’t a problem, with more consumers purchasing them you have more people trying to wall mount their new flat screen TV. The issue with wall mounting is that most TVs are useless by themselves; you need an input source of some sort. Whether it’s a cable box, HTPC or Blu-ray player, getting your content to the TV usually means running cables from one or more boxes to your TV.

This tends to make wall mounting your brand new TV far messier. While the TV looks like a part of the room, the sources dangling from it don’t. Last year a couple of companies showed TVs with wireless inputs. There’s a separate box that communicates wirelessly to the TV, and you plug all of your sources into that box.

This year, wireless inputs are in and far more companies had demonstrations of TVs with wireless inputs.

The standard is WirelessHD. Your inputs are connected wirelessly to the TV via a 60GHz signal, capable of transmitting full bandwidth 1080p60 at a distance of up to 30 feet. The transmission is lossless and is sent uncompressed. The same goes for audio, you can send up to 7.1 audio wirelessly between the box and the TV.

Samsung, Panasonic and LG all had TVs at the show with wireless inputs, all using the same WirelessHD standard.

Eventually I’d expect to see wireless outputs directly on CE devices and wireless inputs on TVs, cutting out the set top box middleman. I suspect that’ll be a while given how many legacy devices users will want to connect to their TVs.

More TV Trends: Thin, Local Dimming and 240Hz
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  • 3DoubleD - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    and by "due" I mean "do"... time for the afternoon coffee Reply
  • araczynski - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    I guess its a good thing then that I don't watch enough TV/Movies to care about these new tv developments. My two 2 year old LCD's will just have to 'do' until they die.

    the only netbook i've ever liked is that acer aspire one (i believe thats its name), $350 at walmart. only turn off is the lcd size in comparison to the top bezel size, seems like a waste of space. if you make the bezel of a certain size, fill it.
    Reply
  • JimmiG - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    Totally agree with Mooly about the Netbook pricing. A netbook is by definition affordable, and an Atom-powered Netbook performs as you would expect from a $300 ultra-portable.

    However, there is currently a gap in the market that computer manufacturers are trying to fill. There are the classic "ultra-portable" laptops that have been around forever and cost upwards of $2000 or more, and then there are the new $300 Netbooks. There isn't anything in between really. So they're taking their Atom designs and putting them into more stylish chassis to create e.g. a $900 Netbook. Those kinds of computers should really feature low-power Core2 Duo processors instead, but I guess that would drive the price up. A dual-core mobile Atom with a few IPC tweaks, running at 2+ GHz might work, or a scaled down Core2 or i7 CPU.

    The Atom has gained much brand recognition. It seems everyone wants an Atom. It's also a return to Netbust and the "MHz myth" - 1.6 GHz doesn't sound that bad, but what many don't realize is that it's an in-order CPU a la 1993, with an IPC of less than half that of a Core2 CPU.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Saturday, January 24, 2009 - link

    How many netbooks weight 1.2lbs? Reply
  • James5mith - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    Ahh, IPC, it always comes back to IPC. :) Reply
  • elerick - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    I have been really wanting to know some of the features of the plasma's. I have heard the worlds largest plasma plant capable of producing over 1 million units per month is almost complete, in China.

    Do the new plasma panels offer THX or ISF calibration controls?
    Reply
  • Visual - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    Local dimming is a terrible idea - as it also dims the bright pixels in the same general area. It will only be a good feature once it can be done with pixel precision, but that would just mean a LED TV instead of LCD. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    In my opinion, the smallest size a notebook should be is nothing under 11". 11" notebooks are smaller than a sheet of paper, and be it on your lap, on a plane, in a classroom, or in a coffee shop, you will ALWAYS be able to fit a footprint of a sheet of paper in front of you comfortably. As such I feel that 10" and 9" notebooks should not exist.

    Another reason why I feel that 11" should be the smallest size is because you can also fit an optical drive in these notebooks, something I feel is still a necessity. Wouldn't be nice to have your netbook as a portable DVD player too without having to rip the DVD onto a flash drive and plug it into your notebook?

    IMO, the netbook hasn't reached to the point of reaching its full potential. Hopefully by the summer time the following specs can be available as the base model for a $500 price point:

    11" 1280x720 screen (LED, 1.3 MP camera)
    Highest CPU clock available for Atom
    nVidia 9400M GT
    2 GB RAM
    32GB SSD
    DVD RW/CD RW
    802.11 a/b/g/n with Bluetooth 2.1
    3G and GPS (let us activate it with a cell phone provider of OUR choosing, just have it there by default)
    Windows XP (maybe Windows 7)
    6 cell battery

    Until then what's available now simply is just too expensive.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    Unless they would include both GSM and CDMA hardware, you wouldn't be able to activate it on each of the available choices. Reply
  • Penti - Monday, January 12, 2009 - link

    Forget about the Atom and it maybe possible with like AMD Neo @ 1.5 - 1.6GHz. (K8 single-core)

    And for twice the price!

    The problem with high resolution 8-11" panels/screens are that none are made. OEM/ODMs can't do more then simply ordering the parts and put it together really. They aren't cheep either. 1280x800 or 1280x768 is do able though. Samsung has a 10.6" with 1280x768.
    Reply

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