One thing I love about attending CES every January is that you get to view the future: companies show off products that are going to hit stores in the coming months, and many manufacturers also highlight prototype products that aren’t even real yet. But that’s where the fun comes in: you get to witness new technologies that could only be imagined in years past but are there in real life today. I gathered a short list of some of the most exciting TVs on display at CES this year.
We all live in 2018 so we’re used to seeing giant digital billboards along highways or at sports arenas, but having an actual gigantic display in our homes has always been the stuff of sci-fi movies and TV shows (and who can forget the screened-in dorm rooms from the first season of Black Mirror?). Now Samsung has made it possible to build your own room-sized TV with the introduction of The Wall, the company’s new 146-inch 4K MicroLED display.
There are several cool things about this product, not least of which is the fact that the bezel-less displays are modular and can be clicked together to create even larger screens, without any perceptible seams marring the image. But perhaps the most impressive part is the MicroLED technology itself, which according to Samsung provides “incredible brightness, color gamut, color volume and black levels”. The MicroLEDs, which are much smaller than current LEDs, emit their own light and do away with the need for backlights or color filters. In this way, they are similar to OLED displays, which have been lauded in recent years for their superior black levels and wide color gamuts.
So when can you buy it? Although Samsung describes its MicroLED panel as a consumer model, it makes no guarantee that it will be available in 2018. As for price? You’ll have to wait for that, too.
TV manufacturers have been showing off 8K models for several years now, but the results are always impressive. Every year the processors get more powerful and the displays produce more realistic images. Top TV brands LG, Samsung, and Sony all dazzled at CES this year with their 8K prototypes. Content creators and consumers around the world are still in the process of adapting to 4K so don’t expect 8K to be the next wave of technology that you have to run out and buy. However, if and when these products hit the market watch for them to upscale 4K content to even greater detail.
LG brought an 8K OLED prototype to the show with an astonishing 88-inch display, making it the largest as well as the highest-resolution OLED panel ever created. LG was quick to note that the model is not intended for the consumer market (yet), but it was an exciting glimpse into the future of OLED TVs.
Samsung also brought a world’s first to the show with the first QLED TV featuring AI technology. This one really is coming to the consumer market this year and will launch in Korea and the US sometime during the second half of 2018. Don’t panic that there won’t be any 8K content to watch on it: this TV will upscale all of the stuff you currently watch to provide more detail and clarity.
Sony’s 8K prototype is powered by its newest processor, the X1 Ultimate, which delivers twice the power of Sony’s current X1 Extreme version. The result is a truly brilliant picture that offers up 10,000 nits peak brightness (that’s about five times as bright as any current TV!). No word from Sony on when this processor will make its way to the consumer market, and no promises about 8K either.
LG has dabbled in flexible OLED displays for a few years, but this year the company brought a compact, consumer-appealing prototype to the show. Housed in a rectangular case that looks fairly innocuous, the flexible OLED display unrolls to become a legitimate TV with all the benefits that OLED provides. Aside from being incredibly cool technology, it would certainly solve a core aesthetic problem for consumers who don’t want a large black rectangle on the wall when they’re not watching TV. Like many of the other prototypes shown here, this one isn’t destined for the consumer market at this time but it’s exciting to know that someday in the future we could all have rollable TVs in our homes.
These future products are all very cool and drool-worthy, but most of them won’t be around to buy for several years and I wouldn’t recommend waiting. There are plenty of amazing TVs on the market today, built to impress.