CES Day One: Sony OLED tops innovations

The first day of CES kicked off with its usual treasure trove of the expected (bigger flat panels at cheaper prices) and the unusual (a snappy technology demonstration by Sony of organic LED displays). We’ll bore you with all of the details a little later but here are the top five consumer electronic developments that SVG saw on day one that should be on the radar screens of SVG members:

1) Bravia goes Surfing
The Bravia Internet Video Link is one of those products that could reshape the TV landscape. The small module is about the size of a cable modem, can be attached to the back of Bravia HDTV displays, and has an Ethernet port. Hook it up to a broadband connection, scroll to the Sony Internet Video Link on the TV’s cross-bar navigation system and voila: you’re watching streaming video, both SD and HD, on your TV. Sony announced content deals with Yahoo!, AOL, and Grouper, allowing user to access streaming video services from the different sites. And expect others to sign on as well. More importantly the service is free and ad supported. Local high-school sports, smaller college events that can’t get TV coverage, and on-demand highlights are justs some of the potential applications.

2) Living, breathing LED displays
Yes, Sony again. So what if it there was no price point or release date. Sony’s OLED technology (Organic LED) appears to be truly promising. The 27-inch version has 1920×1080 pixels, a contrast ratio of a million-to-one and 10-bit RGB. The kicker? It’s only .39 inches deep. Sony also demonstrated an 11-inch version that has 8-bit RGB and is only .10 inches thick. There were no details on refresh rates but the image quality was stunning for a first-generation product and the depth and weight could be a blessing in everything from production vehicles to super-portable editing kits.

3) LCDs are getting snappy
The mantra repeated over and over with respect to LCD technology was 120 Hz refresh rate (pushing delays down to 4 ms) and much better contrast ratios (upwards of 15,000:1). Sharp scored a major blow for LCD with the introduction of a new 108-inch LCD Aquos panel that will be shipping this summer and Sony demonstrated an 82-inch Bravia. Panasonic, meanwhile, made a big push for the power of plasmas at its event as its corporate philosophy seems to be LCD for screen sizes smaller than 37 inches and plasma for larger screens. Whatever the arguments the LCD vs. plasma debate is heating up now that everyone seems to agree on 1080p.

4) Pioneer revamps
In terms of new display technology Pioneer introduced a completely new approach to plasma design with a new panel, color filter and ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that it says will change the plasma performance landscape.
“We determined it was not good enough to just add another layer to existing technology,” says Ken Shioda, general manager of product planning for displays at Pioneer Corporation. By re-engineering Pioneer’s plasma technology from the ground up Shioda says the company made a quantum leap in all areas that impact the viewer experience. Black levels, for example, reduce the minimum luminance level by 80% while a new filter minimizes the impact of ambient light, one of the biggest problems facing plasma displays. “It looks equally good in both light and dark rooms,” says Shioda. “And it exceeds both LCD and even SED in all conditions.”

5) More 3D HD
It’s coming, right? RIGHT? TDVision Systems introduced a new 3D system that has a special camera that can record HD images simultaneously for both 3D and 2D viewers. Manuel Gutierrez, TDVision Systems CTO and chairman of the board, says the camera is attached to a proprietary 3D encoder that creates a separate 3D MPEG video stream while it also records a 2D version. To view the content in 3D consumers will need to buy 3D video display goggles with 3D decoders. While those who want 3D watch it in the goggles traditional 2D signals are past out to TV viewers.

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