Our main take-away from the 2013 CES was that this is going to be the year when OLED and 4K-rez “Ultra HD” TVs finally arrive. And by “arrive” I mean sitting in the store, waiting for you to buy ‘em. While this development is no doubt promising, you can also count on the advanced sets scheduled to hit stores later this year being expensive.
Breaking with tradition, Sony’s press event at CES was a celeb-free affair. No Will Smith, no Taylor Swift, no that guy who acted in the most recent Spider-Man movie. The star of the show was clearly the company’s new Xperia Z smartphone, but I’m not going to talk about that. What I am going to discuss is 4K, aka “Ultra HD,” as the rest of the industry seems to be calling it.
For me, LG’s CES press conference was an anti-climax: The company had already announced its 2013 TV and Blu-ray/audio offerings in a conference call a few weeks prior to the event. The upside was I didn’t have to take many notes —something that’s not always easy to do at 8 a.m. when you’re jet-lagged. Here are the highlights.
If 2011 was the year that tablets took over, 2012 was unquestionably the year of the headphone. The market for headphones has exploded, and Sound+Vision has stepped up its coverage to handle the flow, with reviews of new ‘phones, along with related gear such as portable and desktop speakers, amps, and DACs appearing on a weekly basis at soundandvisionmag.com.
When it comes to picture quality, LCD TVs ?with a full-array, “local dimming” LED backlight tend to outperform their edge-lit LED brethren by a not insubstantial margin. We’ve covered the particulars of LED backlight tech before, so I won’t get sidetracked in explaining it here, but the finer control afforded by a full-array design allows for improved contrast and, for the most part, better uniformity when displaying dark images. Sony was among the first TV makers to push full-array for LCD, and then mysteriously put the tech on hold. But it roared back in 2011 with the XBR-HX929 line, a series that pushed full-array to new heights. The newest such sets to arrive from Sony are the HX950 series, which started shipping in late 2012. Can they match, or even exceed, Sony’s vaunted HX929 TVs?
Sound+Vision has enthusiastically reviewed nearly every music server put out by Olive since it first launched. But the company’s newest offering, the One music player, looks to be its most interesting product yet.
Anyone shopping for a new set over the past year is likely to have encountered the term “Smart TV.” But what is a Smart TV? And why exactly should you want one? These are relevant questions because Smart TV is the latest marketing juggernaut to hit premium sets. Unless you make an effort to learn about Smart TV, there’s a chance you’ll end up paying for features that you don’t want or need.