CES. Smart TVs, Las Vegas and the missing porn stars

The Consumer Electronics Show was in full swing last week. Armed with my loyal Canon 350D, my Ray Ban glasses and a bit of a hangover I also showed up in the outskirts of Las Vegas hoping to catch a glimpse of the latest gadgets and new technologies first hand.

TV seems to come out as the absolute winner of the battle for the living room. Smart TVs in particular are set to finally take off this year with Samsung, LG and Sony all showcasing some pretty impressive models that integrate web based content and apps onto the TV screen.

 

 

As Netflix, the streaming movie service launches in the UK it will be interesting to see how Sky will cope with increased competition from Lovefilm and now Netflix right on the main screen. And in the USA the number of subscription based providers of TV content via web is even higher (Hulu, Amazon, Vudu movies, HBO Go) so the competition could get even tougher in the next year if the UK will follow the same trend.

Smart TVs are getting smarter, with Samsung having new models able to videocall and with face recognition technology that customise the apps and the settings of the TV set based on the user that is watching.

Samsung seem to be the only manufacturer offering advertising opportunities in their Smart Hub with an advertiser sponsored location on the top right of the main menu and from the second half of 2012 also pre-roll available on some of the third party apps in the Smart Hub like USA Today.

More interestingly for all manufacturers there is a focus on the ability to communicate perfectly between all the connected devices and screens in the house and on the use Cloud services to store and access files remotely.

Admittedly, this is for now limited to devices of the same brand but new interfaces are coming up that allow consumers to access all their media on all of their connected devices which are not manufacturer specific like the M-GO app, developed by Technicolor. The app would allow, amongst other things, to receive bonus content on a tablet while watching a movie on TV.  Which could be a good opportunity for advertising to get brands closer to the TV content on the second screen.

 

Multiple screens seem to be the way forward. In a Samsung presentation a very over-enthusiastic American Samsung exec (his catch phrase was “There’s the best and then there’s the rest” ) was showing how easy you could control, from your tablet, the content you want to watch.

You could select a film you’ve purchased or a streaming service you subscribe to and then have it play on the big screen.  Tablets become a way to control what happens in the big screen. And the fact that Sky has just purchased a stake in Zeebox makes me think in the UK the big players are probably looking at this as well.

Tablets on show seemed to be cheaper and more numerous than previous years with many really slick Android tablets coming to the market like the Sony Tablet S that is already available and that is shaped like a book with all the weight on one side and very easy to handle or the new Sony Tablet P that folds in two

 

 

An Ultra HD (aka 4K) LG TV model was also quite the sight as looking at the screen was just like seeing something in real life.

LG also had some of the best models showing cinema 3D in a smart TV screen and the thinnest TV with just 4mm width. There were also some glasses free 3D TV although those apparently are not going to get produced in 2012, I guess the manufacturers have to manage to sell the ones with glasses first.

One thing was missing this year though: the porn stars. The Adult Entertainment Expo which traditionally runs the same week as CES has this year been postponed by a week. Ironically this year the adult fair will be hosted in the Hard Rock which is where I was staying. As I write this in wintery London, a vivacious group of porn stars is probably having a great time gambling in the same casino table as I was just a week ago.

Probably with slightly better luck.

Author: Salvo La Rosa  (@salvolarosa )

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