What does your next TV look like?
Televisions are in abundance at CES, and they're also the one bit of tech that's in everyone's home. But what is the most important TV of all – your next TV – going to look like?
Four eyes, three dimensions – glasses-free 3D
While 3D can add an extra dimension to your viewing pleasure, having to wear glasses to do it seems a bit last century, doesn't it? There are a handful of sets that don't force you to don specs, but current glasses-free sets need a bit of polishing as restrictions on viewing position can be frustrating.
Nevertheless, Stream TV Networks has stepped up to the challenge with its Ultra-D 2160p TV. It promises glasses-free 3D to rival that of 3D with glasses, and with its SeeCube real-time conversion set-top box it even converts 2D and 3D footage into glasses-free 3D. That should give Antiques Roadshow a bit more punch.
Seeing around corners – curved screens
A different shape of screen may not have been top of most people's TV feature wish list, but in a surprise move both LG and Samsung have shown off TV sets with curved screens at CES 2013. They certainly look a lot more interesting than the usual 'flatties', and first impressions are that the five degree curve makes the them more immersive, especially with 3D. Finally a big TV that will actually fit in a corner.
New Year's resolution – 4K/Ultra HD
This year manufacturers have been less shouty about 3D and the new big trend is bumping up the resolution. 4K or Ultra HD TVs with a resolution of four times 1080p (over 4,000 pixels across – hence 4K) are where it's at. Previously more of a future concept than a realistic addition to your home, manufacturers including Sony have now shown off the first 4K sets that will actually fit in your lounge.
As cutting edge TV tech goes, Sony's 55in XBR-55X900A is expected to be at the more 'affordable' end of the spectrum when it launches in the UK this summer. It is still top-end tech though, so we'd be surprised to see it come in much under £3000. We've seen it in use and it really is a sight to behold, plus its large, exposed speakers promise to bring better sound than the insipid offerings from most flat screen TVs. 4K-mastered Blu-ray discs and 4K on demand content are starting to appear too, so you'll actually have something to watch on your spanky new high-res beast.
Through the looking glass – transparent displays
In the 'just because we could' category sits transparent screen tech. Ok, so you may not want to be able to see through your TV – perhaps you positioned it specifically to hide that yellow patch on the wall. However, transparent screens are out on show too. At the moment it's more of a novelty than a contender for home use, but for augmenting shop displays with overlaid information about products it's just the ticket. Or, if your TV is so big it blocks out the light from the window, this might just solve a problem...
The future's bright – OLED displays
OLED TV is back, and after its debut way back in 2008 is starting to take hold alongside the 4K sets. Showing off its bright, vibrant images on a variety of thin TVs including those lovely curved ones it still holds the promise of a glorious viewing experience. Sony and Panasonic have been dazzling the crowds with their 56in near-4K OLED monsters, but they won't be making it into your home just yet, and the OLED TVs currently on the market are well over the budget for most.
The lighting's on the wall – projectors
Finally, perhaps your new TV won't be a TV at all, but a projector instead. Vivitek has shown off a mini projector that is eminently portable, but can also be used in multiples, with images overlapped to form a much larger picture using a camera for automatic calibration.
Even more radical is the LG Hecto laser projector than can beam an image of up to 100 inches onto a black surface from only 20 inches away. Arriving in the US in March, the price of this innovation is US$10,000.
The price is right
While some of the price tags on show are – as ever – fairly ludicrous, you can be sure that the prices of all this new tech will start tumbling soon enough. In fact Sony's more home-friendly 4K offering is a sign that the next big TV trend could be in your home before you know it. Last year's big news was connected Smart TVs, and lo-and-behold many very affordable TVs come with it baked right in. So stay tuned to Stuff.tv for tests of the best TV tech that hits the market and next year you could be the proud owner of your dream TV.