Back from another day of walking the show floor and visiting manufacturers in suites on The Strip. I would have written about Day 2 yesterday, but I got back too late from a meeting with Philips and I had to prepare the newsletter for publication today. It's really tough to multi-task at CES. I'm surprised by the amount of people going from booth to booth, or lingering at some of the larger manufacturers such as Samsung, LG or Sony still on Day 3. And, the show floor was still crowded as they closed the doors at 6pm last night. In recent years, I don't remember it being so busy so late in the day. Maybe folks are fascinated with Brian Williams broadcasting the NBC Nightly News live from the show floor. I've been going to CES since 1981, and I don't remember the show taking on such prominence. Clearly, it just goes to show the importance of CE.
I had the opportunity to preview the latest concepts from Pioneer's Project Kuro. Pioneer's Kuro plasma displays probably have the deepest blacks available today from any plasma set. Truly impressive! The company is now working on improving the contrast even further, making the color more vibrant. They also showed the thinnest plasma display of 9mm and weighing only 41-pounds in a 50-inch screen size. Right now, Pioneer is not sure if it will place the video electronics and DTV tuner within the display itself or have a separate media center. If it does have a media center, it might be wireless. Although, at this point, the company doesn't know if it wants to go UWB or 802.11n. I guess that we'll just have to 'stay tuned.' The decision to go wireless is a decision that many manufacturers will be facing this year and next.
I met with the folks at TI (Texas Instruments), who, obviously, are still bullish on DLP technology for both front and rear projection TVs. When questioned about the shrinking market for rear projection, TI points out that their sales will not be affected by the desertion of other manufacturers such as Sony from rear pro. For 2008, most manufacturers are predicting sales of rear projection TVs to be around 650,000 units down from 2.0 million in 2007. TI points out that virtually all of those sales will be DLP, which tracks with their projections. TI is not resting on its laurels, however, as I was shown a prototype with a depth of only 6-inches, and can easily be hung on the wall. It reminded of a rear projection DLP HDTV that was designed by InFocus and sold by RCA Scenium a few years ago, but without the long chin. TI acknowledges that the color wheel and lamp are going away in favor of other illumination such as LED (Samsung) or laser (Mitsubishi). Samsung offers several slim LED DLP rear projection HDTVs, and Mitsubishi will launch their LaserTV later this year.
Today, I met with Luminus Devices getting an update on the latest PhlatLight technology, which is currently used in Samsung's slim LED rear projection HDTVs. I saw a 3rd generation 67-in Samsung model, which is scheduled for release later this year. It looked impressive! I also found out that LED backlighting can be applied easily to front projectors with impressive results as well. It seems that PhlatLight is technology agnostic, and can be used with 3LCD or DLP without a problem. I also received a tutorial on LED BLU for LCD displays that works in partnership with Global Lighting for startling results learning that the PhlatLight technology is extremely well-suited for LCD displays. Consider for example that instead of using 1,100 or so LED placed behind the screen that you only used 7 or so modules of RGB LEDs placed on the side of the display. A hand built prototype of a Sharp Aquos was shown with visually stunning results.
I also met with NXP today for a demo of their local dimming and backlight technologies. These chipsets will help improve black levels for LCD TVs. While I had read about NXP's innovations, I had not seen them in person. Clearly, NXP understands that LCD needs all the help it can get to improve picture quality. I was surprised to find out their chip that features 120 Hz refresh technology via motion compensation also includes local dimming, which makes is very cost effective for a manufacturer to include both features in an economical way. Of course, I think that NXP's local dimming technology can benefit from Luminus' PhlatLight technology was well. Although, it's not up to either company, but the TV maker to include both chipsets.
Once I return from CES, I'll do a CES wrap-up Blog. Stay tuned!