More Coming in TVs Than Just Better Displays
For television makers, CES used to be a place to talk about better picture quality and faster refresh rates. But this year, TV makers turned more of their attention to convenience. Connected TV and natural input were big themes, as companies try to make watching movies and TV shows as easy as possible.
Here's a look at the future of TV, as it appeared at CES 2012.
Google TV Takeover
With Intel exiting the connected TV business, Marvell has stepped in to run Google TV on its Armada 1500 chip. The chip has a dual-core 1.2 GHz ARM processor, so future Google TVs will be better at multitasking, and they won't need a fan to stay cool.
Marvell's Qdeo video processing technology is designed to enhance colors and make lines smoother, and the whole package should be significantly less expensive than the last generation of Google TVs. Pictured here is Marvell's set-top box reference design.
New Partners for Google TV
Google TV also got a boost from LG, Samsung and Vizio, which all announced that they'll put the Google's software on their hardware.
Pictured here is a Google TV-based set from LG, with its app list on display.
Voice Control Invades the Living Room
Perhaps in anticipation of a Siri-equipped TV from Apple, some television makers at CES demonstrated new TVs with voice-command integration.
This LG television has a microphone inside its remote, which lets you search by speaking into the mic instead of typing on a tiny keyboard.
Samsung Goes All Natural
Samsung went full-bore on natural input with its new high-end TVs, which include support for voice commands, gesture control, and facial recognition.
The LED model shown here will be among the first from Samsung to have a built-in camera (the camera is at the top of the screen shown here).
Motion Control For All
Although natural input (imput that is easier than typing out requests to the TV via a remote control) is currently reserved for high-end televisions and external devices like Microsoft's Kinect, the technology will eventually trickle down to cheaper TVs.
SoftKinetic, a company that embeds motion control technology into televisions, is working with lower-tier HDTV makers to add motion control to cheaper sets.
Streaming Games Get Some Love
Streaming game services OnLive and Gaikai will become harder to ignore once they're built into TVs from major manufacturers.
At CES, OnLive announced that its application (shown here on a Vizio TV) will be built into upcoming Google TV devices, allowing users to purchase high-end games that stream to the television from remote servers.
Gaikai, a competing company, announced that it will be included in LG's connected TVs. This could help bring big-budget games to audiences who aren't quite hardcore enough to splurge on an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3.
Here Come the Aggregators
The proliferation of sources for downloaded and streaming video has led to new apps to keep all that content in one place.
Pictured on the left is Plex, which aggregates previously purchased videos and Internet video sources, and is available on Roku, Google TV, and jailbroken Apple TVs.
M-Go, on the right, is similar, but it also wants to be a place where you can buy video from multiple sources. Both apps are also available on phones, tablets, and through the Web for remote viewing.
Streaming TV in Your Pocket
The Roku Streaming Stick aims to offer the same online video service as Roku's set-top boxes, but in a little dongle that's about the size of two fingers.
It plugs into any TV with an MHL-enabled HDMI jack, making it easy to get Internet video anywhere you happen to be.
Streaming From Phone to TV
In mid-2012, the Wi-Fi alliance will begin to certify devices for Wi-Fi Display, which will allow one device to stream video to another without using an existing Wi-Fi network.
The most obvious use of this new technology will be to stream video from a phone or tablet to a television.
Dish Network Embraces More Apps
Pay TV providers haven't been in a hurry to bring Internet apps to their set-top boxes, but Dish is at least dabbling in connected TV.
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