2014 International CES Wrap Up – Multiple pixels and curved screens made the headlines in video at Las Vegas’ CES, just ended. Among the various technologies: plasma, OLED and LED LCD—the last was in evidence more than ever. No plasma displays were shown but Samsung says it might debut new models later this year; and LG announced new plasmas but didn’t show them. Picture quality is improving greatly with LED LCDs, especially with the local dimming enhancement. Panasonic showed a prototype of their full-array set said to match the picture quality of plasmas. Many manufacturers talked about using LEDs to create higher dynamic range, using Dolby HDR processing to take advantage of it. Both Vizio and Panasonic are approaching a wider display of colors.
UHD sets were everywhere, but still very expensive, and the error of calling consumer-level UDH 4K was also everywhere. Sony plans entry-level UHD sets, but Panasonic has pulled out of it entirely. Most UHD sets use HDMI 2.0-compatible silicon and there was discussion about the initial delivery being from a streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon or Comcast. The HEVC/H.265 compression scheme will be used, as well as for UHD Blu-ray discs, which were supposed to be shown but are probably are put off until next year. Samsung was the only maker showing curved-screen models, aside from an ultra-expensive model from LG and one from Sony. The idea is certainly radical and takes getting used to; some industry experts think it is a “gimmick.” There were also simpler-to-use alternatives to the elaborate smart TVs used by the major manufacturers. (TiVo has had one for some time.)
There was a special Hi-Res Audio Experience at the Venetian Hotel’s Bellini Ballroom, with the Cheskys from HDtracks and and companies with the latest hi-res audio content, including AIX, Acoustic Sounds, Blue Coast Music, Mytek Digital, and Native DSD Music (Channel Classics). There were panels on the hi-res music world with such people as Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds, Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Music, Mark Waldrep of AIX, Jared Sacks of Native DSD Music, Elliot Scheiner of ELS Surround, and Jim Belcher of Universal. A panel on Hi-Res Audio for Every Lifestyle was moderated by Joe Palenchar of TWICE, and included Steve Silberman of AudioQuest, David J. Steven of dCS, Paul Wasek of Onkyo, Own Kwon of iRiver, Aaron Levine of Sony, and Michal Jurewicz of Mytek Digital. Research by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has shown that consumers are ready to embrace hi-res audio. They found that 60% of consumers with a moderate audio interest were willing to pay more for higher quality digital music, and nine out of ten said sound quality was the most important component of a quality audio experience.