The TV industry had plenty to show in 2017
Few of us are lucky enough to have the wherewithal to spend several thousand dollars every year just so we can say we have the very latest TV technology available. But it’s sure fun to look, and it will always be time for some of us to upgrade from the screen we’ve been just been tolerating.
Whichever camp you’re in, these are the coolest TVs we spied at CES 2017.
Samsung QLED TV
Samsung upped the ante this year with its new QLED TVs—the Q7, Q8, and Q9—which the company humbly introduced as "the next innovation in TV." The new lineup features a new type of quantum dot (which means it's even more "Q" than the QLED TVs we've seen at past shows) that allows for "100 percent color volume" and the ability to express all colors at any level of brightness. On top of that, Samsung's new QLED TVs are super bright at 2000 nits, which is kind of a big deal because the main weakness in OLED TVs at the moment is lack of brightness—they just can't compete with LED-backlit LCDs. Samsung's QLED TVs are bright and colorful and they look fantastic, even in less-than-ideal tradeshow lighting, but I'm not yet convinced they're game-changers.
Samsung Lifestyle TV
Samsung dedicated an entire section of its booth to its new QLED TVs, including a blown-up infographic on its new quantum dot technology, but this lifestyle TV really caught my eye. The Samsung Lifestyle TV is a two-in-one: When you turn it on, it's a regular TV (Samsung won't confirm whether the final product will be a QLED TV, but it was in the QLED TV section), but when you turn it off,it turns into a surprisingly convincing picture frame with a static photo or painting displayed inside. It makes your TV disappear into your décor when you’re not watching Mr. Robot or Game of Thrones. No word on pricing or availability yet, but perhaps we'll hear more later this year.
Hisense 100H10D 4K LaserCast TV
Hisense is showing off its new 4K Laser Cast TV, which is not really a TV at all. Instead, the image on this 100-inch screen comes from an ultra short-throw projector that sits approximately 13 to 16 inches in front of the screen. This means the screen is ultra-thin and sleek, but, of course, that's because the screen doesn’t have any electronics—those are in the projector. The 4K Laser Cast TV is HDR compatible and will hit shelves this summer for the totally reasonable price of $13,000. Don't worry, though—that price includes a 5.1-channel surround sound system.
Hisense H10D 4K ULED TV
If a projection TV isn't your thing, and you don't have the wall space for a 100-inch screen, Hisense is also showing off some more reasonably sized (and priced) 4K ULED TVs. "ULED" is basically Hisense's mash-up of QLED and OLED, I guess, because while the H10D 4K ULED TV features quantum dot technology, the company's other models (H9D, H8D, H7D) do not. In addition to a wide quantum dot color gamut, the H10D is also THX-certified, with full-array local dimming and UHD upscaling. The H10D is set to debut this spring (April or May, according to a Hisense rep), and will cost $3000 for the 70-inch set and $6000 for the 75-inch set.
Panasonic Invisible Library
Panasonic isn’t shipping any new TVs in the U.S. this year, but the company one-upped Samsung’s "Lifestyle TV" with the even less-obtrusive “Invisible Library.” This is basically a 55-inch sliding glass cabinet door with an embedded OLED TV, presumably so you can keep your collections of priceless books, sculptures, and Precious Moments figurines on full display while you watch Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts. The Invisible Library is just a prototype at the moment—a Panasonic rep said we can expect it to be ready in "three to five years."
Sony Bravia A1E OLED TV
Step aside LG, Sony is jumping into the consumer-grade OLED game with its new lineup of Bravia A1E series TVs. The Bravia A1E OLED TVs look incredible, with bright, color-saturated pictures and ultra-thin profiles (there’s no magic here, the electronics are stashed inside a picture-frame-style stand). The feature that really sets the A1E series apart from its competition is Sony’s “acoustic surface” technology that turns the entire OLED panel in a giant speaker (one that’s supplemented by a subwoofer integrated into the aforementioned stand). This TV has to be seen to be believed.
LG Signature OLED TV W
LG doesn't care about Sony's screen-sized speaker situation or Samsung's fancy new quantum dots, because it's got its own crazy TV to demo: The LG Signature OLED TV W. This new OLED TV is absurdly thin; seriously, its screen is less than four millimeters thick. As with Sony’s design, LG’s trick is only possible because the guts of the TV are packed into a sound bar that connects to the screen via a flat ribbon cable. Still, this TV is so thin that it needs to be mounted to the wall with magnets. There's no word on pricing yet, but the Signature OLED TV W series is expected to start shipping this spring.
TCL C Series
Are you looking for a 75-inch Roku TV? TCL has you covered with its C Series lineup of 4K UHD, high dynamic-range TVs that support both Dolby Vision and the more common HDR-10 standards. Don't let the lesser-known name scare you—TCL's C Series TVs look as good as high-end TVs from other companies, with thin metal bezels, cloth-covered sound bars, and all-around premium styling. They're powered by Roku (naturally), they've got wide color gamut technology, and they'll come with some fancy perks like the ability to pause live TV and search using your voice. There's no word on pricing just yet, but these TVs should start hitting shelves in the second quarter.
RCA 4K 55-inch UHD LED Curve TV
Curved TVs are no longer a novelty, which means they're far more affordable for the average consumer. RCA showed off its second-generation UHD LED Curve TV, a reasonably priced LED-backlit 4K model that features energy-efficient lighting and an impressively slim bezel and profile. The 55-inch Curve TV will start shipping sometime this year, priced at less than $1000 (well, $999).
Stream TV Networks Ultra-D Glasses-free 3D
The 3D TV craze fizzled a few years back, largely because no one wanted to wear those funky glasses while sitting in their living room (funny, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the movie theater). Stream TV Networks think it has a better solution for home: Its Ultra-D technology is a three-part system that can be built into TVs to give viewers a 3D experience without the need for glasses and regardless of the source material. This isn't an aftermarket solution—you’ll need to buy a new TV to get it—but you’ll get the effect even on live TV. Material that’s been 3D optimized, however, will deliver the absolute best experience.