Tag Archive: Sony


TVs galore at CES 2013

If the keynotes and unveilings at the ongoing CES 2013 is anything to go by then these are exciting times for consumer display technologies. International-CESTechnologies which looked inconceivable are being flaunted in full fledge in Las Vegas. Here’s a manufacturer-wise low-down on all these exciting technologies.

Sony – Having trailed behind Samsung and LG in the OLED TV race, Sony’s unveiling of a 56” prototype 4K OLED TV took everyone by surprise. The mashup may look wishful on the face of it, but the picture quality, contrast ratio and black levels which an OLED TV is capable of producing coupled with the high amount of detail its 4K resolution can show might just make this TV the ultimate beast once it commercially materializes.

Panasonic – Since Sony and Panasonic had collaborated last year to produce OLED screens, Panasonic also showed off its own 56” 4K OLED prototype. And it doesn’t look like the Japanese manufacturer is going to budge from making Plasma’s [despite reducing sales and consumer interest] as it also unveiled its 2013 line-up of Plasma TVs.

Toshiba – Another Japanese firm making sure that the Ultra HD market heats up. Its latest offering, the L9300 Ultra HD TV series just acts as a pointer to how manufacturers perceive the future of TV displays.

LG-throws-CES-2013-a-curveball-with-a-gently-arcing-55-inch-OLED-TVLG – Fresh from the accolades of last year, LG finally announced commercial shipping of its OLED TVs to US in March. The prices are jaw-dropping but so is the technology. Apart from that, it also launched 55” and 65” TVs with Ultra HD resolution to join the 84” LM9600 last year. Also on showcase was the stunning Curved OLED TV which was an instant crowd-puller. And to top it all is the all new Hecto Laser TV Projector which can generate crisp picture in the size range of 100 inches from a very short projection range.

Samsung – Like LG, Samsung also came up with its own curved OLED TV. The concept is aimed at doing away with viewing angle issues as well give a panorama-effect to visuals on it. Although just a concept, it opens up the possibility of having large-sized curved and bendable displays in future. Also on feature was the world’s largest Ultra HD TV at a mouth-watering 85 inches, pipping commercially available LG and Sony Ultra HD sets by an inch.

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Sharp – 60” Purios Ultra HD TV was one of the highlights at the Sharp stand with this set being the first one to receive THX 4K certification. The explanation of IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) displays was another one that seems exciting as these displays can have a 550 PPI (pixels per inch) making it a serious competition for Apple’s Retina displays. Then there were two prototypes, the 60” Aquos Ultra HD TV and an 8K TV. Considering 4K has been dubbed as Ultra HD by the companies, it will be interesting to see what branding 8K gets.

Simply put, it’s easy to conclude that CES 2013 was the hub of TV displays and technologies accompanying it which means the industry is geared up for transition and gradual overhaul of existing TV displays. So it will be interesting to see how consumers warm up to this vision in the coming years.

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Ultra HD

It’s been some time since 4K or the rechristened Ultra HD TV’s have been launched in India and abroad. But apart from the tech-driven souls, there hasn’t been much consumer interest on this front in my isolated opinion. It might be down to the gigantic proportions that these behemoths have as well as the accompanying exorbitant price tags they carry along with them. Or just down to the fact that like 3D, Ultra HD is considered an unnecessary feature of the modern-age TV’s.

84-inch UDTV-580-75Another major factor is obviously the lack of native 4K content which doesn’t really help the cause of these TV’s. And considering that the digital STB TV transmissions are still only 1080i, the appeal of these TV’s is reduced even further. Sony and LG have been the first ones to tread Ultra HD waters with the launch of their KD-84X9000 and 84LM9600 models. And the most interesting part is the difference in geographical pricing of these two TV’s. While both are neck to neck in Indian pricing with a hefty price tag of INR 17 Lacs. But strangely, the US counterpart of Sony is a good 5000$ dearer than LG.

(Change the video quality to Original to see what Ultra HD is capable of!)

In an attempt to maybe justify the excess, Sony will start offering (on loan) 4K content server-based media player with multiple movie titles for the first batch of buyers in US. The titles may range from the latest Sony Entertainment features like “The Amazing Spiderman” and “Total Recall” to classics like “Taxi Driver” and “The Bridge on River Kwai” but the period of loan for this server is stillsony ultra hd undisclosed. In a way, Sony holds an edge over LG in regards to the 4K content it can provide, but will it finally help to kick off the Ultra HD trend is something that remains to be seen over the coming months.

Being more of a technologically knowledgeable girl in the group, most guys in our college group were fond of me. Even though the whole group used to hang out together, I was more engaged in multiplayer split screen PS2 gaming with the guys rather than gossiping with the girls. And the two favorites at the time were “Counter Strike” and “Left 4 Dead”. So much were we engrossed in these multiplayer games in split screen mode that our parents have had many a sleepless nights.

Without belittling the Split Screen technology, it is compromisingly manageable at best. No denying the late night virtual raids were enjoyable to be a part of, the four divisions on a 32” screen used to confuse us with everyone losing track of which screen his player was in as well increased the scope of cheating in a versus mode game mainly the racing titles. Sony’s Simulview display for full-screen multiplayer gaming looked a decent step in that direction but it turned out to be damp squid with a meagre 24” screen size. And since it would have costed a lot at that time, even the richest brat in the group went against spending the moolah on it.

Fast forward 6 years, and LG has taken full advantage of the untapped avenue and developed a pretty similar technology which goes by the name of “Dual Play”. And unlike the screen restrictions in Sony’s display, the Dual Play feature is ubiquitous in all the models of 2012 LG Cinema 3D range. The tact of making Dual Play lies in putting two same-side lenses within a Glass Frame so that you view only a particular side or in other terms tricking your brain via your eyes only to perceive the view of a single side through same-sided polarized lenses. That way, you get a full screen view of your vehicle/player without interfering with the other person’s game play. Mind you, this feature is still in its progressive stage and limited to only two players but I fully expect LG to expand the horizon for up to four distinct players at the same time. The other minor drawback is a little loss to the screen resolution as basically one part of the screen is being stretched over the whole TV frame.  Although you won’t face any such resolution loss issue on LG’s 4K UD 3D TV.

And it looks like this seems to have woken up the Japanese giants to bring the Simulview in a much larger 84” 4K screen with the launch of their KD84X9005 4K TV. Much more than competition, it is good that the major players are getting serious about the next phase of multiplayer console gaming. The only major drawback of this screen size would be the cost factor which puts it out of reach of the majority of people.

And yes, as a potential consumer, you will be right to complain about the exorbitance of 4K prices which make these technologies perform with resolution losses. But from a long term perspective, companies are right to bring the bigger screen sizes now so that the downscaling is cost effective I the future. As it stands, companies like LG and Sony have the groundwork in place and as soon as 4K’s become affordable, one will be able to enjoy full screen multiplayer gaming in its HD glory!

So today is Day 2 of the great German technology adventure of mine. I slept early last night and woke up around 5 AM local time. Upon requesting for breakfast, the voice on the phone said “Weißt du nicht schlafen?!” (Don’t you sleep) to which I replied “None of your business, hol mir das Frühstück ..” (get me the breakfast). A couple of breads loaves with Dusseldorf mustard, dry muesli and lager down my stomach I got ready and took the cab to Messedamm again. Since I had known the hall route, I was back in Hall 11.2 and was greeted by the LG reps who remembered me from yesterday J And soon enough, the stage had been setup and I finally got the first glimpse of the LG OLED Cinema 3D Smart TV!

The 55” wonder’s design has a super slim bezel (literally the thickness of three credit cards stacked together) and the ribbon stand. This OLED TV is again of LG’s Cinema 3D lineage but before you get bored; it’s the display that has left me gasping…. The brightness, the colors and the clarity of this TV is above all. Even for the blackest blacks, it produces low luminescence. The panel is made up of numerous LED’s with a carbon emissive layer making it a self-illuminating screen. And it is the most power efficient till date as well. However, the technology will not come on the cheap so I expect OLED TV’s to take some time before making an imprint on the TV market. However, I do worry that the visuals on that I have seen on the OLED TV have raised my expectations a tad too much!

And if that was not enough, LG followed it up with its unveiling of the 84” Ultra Definition 3D TV. One massive Screen on this beast and with the User Interface of the Smart TV functions looking very impressive, it’s the biggest addition by LG to their under the Cinema 3D range. And even though I thought that LG’s closest competitor of the 4K TV is the Samsung ES9000 75’ Smart TV, I was in for a pleasant surprise as Hall 4.2 was jam packed with Sony for the first time displaying the 84” KD-84X9005 LCD TV which Sony plans to globally phase by this year’s end. Personally speaking, the design is not as impressive as compared to LG or Samsung and it’s an LCD! I will probably spend the remainder of the day looking at other reputed exhibitors namely Toshiba, Panasonic and Philips and return tomorrow to discover the new mobiles being unveiled at this tech fest. But the highlight of my day has surely been what LG believes is the “World’s best OLED TV!”

This post in on the back of reading an insightful article on TechRadar, where Sony Computer Entertainment UK head Fergal Gara underlines that 3D is not as important as it is made out to be. Even though his belief is largely from a gaming perspective, he opinionates that it significantly translates to basic TV viewing as well.

One of the major factors behind this thought is the hassle of wearing glasses. We have known for ages that the active-shutter glasses have been a bane to the retrospective growth of 3D TV’s. It boils down largely due to the fact that these glasses are heavy, battery-powered and require near perfect synchronization with the TV screen to give the desired 3D experience. But isn’t that the reason passive 3D has gained popularity over the years. Since passive 3D glasses are nothing but polarized frames, there is no restriction on the design front and gives you much more liberty with its 3D viewing feature. With these lightweight frames that also come in clip-on designs for spectacled individuals, these glasses provides more positional flexibility for 3D viewing while negating the ill-effects of dizziness and headaches. LG kicked off the passive 3D trend with its Cinema 3D range, with Toshiba following suit.

And IFA Berlin 2012 has also thrown quite a few pleasant surprises at us, the most important in the HDTV arena being the unveiling of commercial-production ready 4K TV’s by both LG and Sony. Now with Sony bringing their massive 84 inch 4K TV into the fray, they have not only switched to passive 3D but also incorporated the Simulview™ feature which allows dual player full screen gaming with their flagship PS3 console. In that sense, Gara’s view comes across as disputable with the Japanese giants pumping in the time and resources to make sure that 3D is an essential factor in their latest offering.

 

 

Now one thing I do agree with is his observation that the importance of 3D is gauged directly from consumer response towards it which to this point has been mildly favorable at best. But I don’t think it’s down to the technology itself but because of the costs involved. 3D TV’s are yet to reach a level where every second person can easily afford it and the introduction of 4K’s ad 8K’s haven’t exactly resulted in a drop down in costs of the lower end models. Anyone reading this would want to chastise me for this, but I feel it’s a very feasible step by manufacturers to innovate at present to scale down the costs in future. There’s a reason iconic filmmakers like James Cameron and Ridley Scott have turned to 3D in their latest directorial projects. And Cameron firmly advocates that the bond between 3D and its audience can be strengthened and evolved for wider masses through 3D TV’s in your living space.

3D at this point might just seem like a fancy gimmick for the higher costs of TV’s these days, but a consolidated approach has slowly but surely garnered the interest of public and long may it improve. Because an increased demand only means competition which will result in significant price drops for the 3D TV’s available in the market at this juncture of time.

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