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Show Review CES, LAS VEGAS


28


Jonghee Han, President of Samsung’s visual display division, declared that by reducing the modules to one quarter their original size, Micro LED could scale small and ultra large.


and weather, music information or ambient mood- setting imagery. There’s no compromise in picture quality to accommodate these gymnastics, either. Its images are wonderfully sharp, with outstanding colour and black level performance, thanks to a second gen Alpha 9 image processor.


The cabinet itself includes a 4.2ch 100W sound system, and is Dolby Atmos capable, although it doesn’t have any upwards firing drivers. Unsurprisingly, LG wasn’t talking retail price at the show. Well if you have to ask... It wasn’t just rollable OLED breaking the TV mould at CES. Other TV form factors also made waves. Samsung used CES to expand its Serif and Frame style screen ranges, while Micro LED threatens to free TV makers from the current restrictions of a 16:9 aspect ratio altogether. That’s because Micro LED modules snap together to create a screen of any particular shape or size. Indeed, Samsung surprised industry observers at its pre-CES Unveil event by focussing almost exclusively on MicroLED, it’s new modular display technology.


First seen in 149-inch guise at CES 2018, Samsung has managed to downsize its Micro LED modules by reducing the pixel pitch and shrinking the size of the sub-pixels. Jonghee Han, President of Samsung’s visual


display division, declared that by reducing the modules to one quarter their original size, Micro


Left: Samsung’s President, Jonghee Han, on stage at CES Above: Dr I.P Park, LG’s CTO, revealed the company’s new AI chip for home appliances Right: Haier offered a smart washer with multiple fabric presets


LED could scale small and ultra large. To prove his point, he unveiled a 75-inch


Micro LED screen, with 4k resolution, as well as a monster 219-inch version of The Wall. Samsung was unequivocal that Micro LED was its display format of choice for next generation TV, a clear indication that it’s not planning OLED TV products anytime soon.


As yet though, it has still to ship any version of


Micro LED. It seems the technology isn’t yet ready for primetime.


Other key television trends at CES was a


shift from edge-lit LED LCDs to full array local dimming (FALD) models, from the mid-range up. FALD makes LED LCD better able to handle HDR content. Expect brands to compete on the number of local dimming zones they offer.


Other TV developments saw TCL, which is trying hard to carve a niche within UK retail channels, unveil a range of premium models, including a 75-inch 4k 6 Series model, and an 8k X10 QLED 8-Series offering, with Google Assistant, as well as a step-up model with in-built Roku Entertainment Assistant, which responds to ‘natural language’. Hisense didn’t have much that was relevant to UK dealers, although we did spot new H8F and U9F ULED TVs, as well as a new 120-inch Laser (ultra short throw projector) TV unit, its first triple laser unit.


The rise and rise of AI Of course, CES wasn’t just about TV. CTA president, Gary Shapiro, declared artificial intelligence “the huge story” of the show. “Everyone from Panasonic to Yamaha to IBM will be talking about it,” he said. And he wasn’t wrong. AI was everywhere, overtly in the form of robots, and discreetly in the shape of connected devices. Voice is fast becoming the go-to user interface for products. Alexa, now commonplace in the home, was busy making outroads to in-car use.


The CES keynotes were full of phrases like “deep data,” “broad AI” and “blockchain initiatives.” Disappointingly no one actually said: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” Few brands played the AI card louder than LG, and it’s come up with some useful user benefits. ProActive Customer Care technology will use AI to alert appliance owners to potential malfunctions, as well as dispensing maintenance advice. Dr I.P Park, LG’s CTO, used his keynote address


to reveal that the brand had developed an AI chip for home appliances that combines voice recognition, visual recognition, Wi-Fi connectivity and sensors. “It allows a whole range of devices to learn and evolve,” he said. Currently, the machine learning that fuels AI is typically performed in the cloud, where massive computing power is available, however there were signs at CES that this is changing. Next generatio n chips from Qualcomm, AMD and NVIDIA are increasingly capable of running AI algorithms. This hints at a new generation of smart products able to learn on a local device level, bringing greater, more intuitive personalisation. My takeaway from all this big science is that technology isn’t just getting smarter, it’s also going to become increasingly personal (so we can probably expect a big rise in health-related wearables) and develop contextual awareness. As appliances continue to get smarter, touchscreens were clearly en vogue at the show. Haier offered a smart washer with multiple fabric presets, while LG impressed with its InstaView ThinQ refrigerator and QuadWash dishwasher.


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