The CES is still a show about televisions. Even when the tech industry experiences with augmented reality, standalone cars and the limits of what you can attach to a refrigerator, everything in Las Vegas still revolves around the TV. The 2018 line follows more or less the same path manufacturers have followed for decades: everything is a bit thinner and more crystalline, and there are unintelligible acronyms as far as the eye can see. All in the hope that this is the year you will invest a buck in a new model.
Interested or not in an upgrade to your TV, this year’s TVs, perhaps more so than at any other CES, provide a window into the overall tech world situation. This is because TVs are no longer TVs: they are central to smart homes, hotspots for virtual assistants, video game consoles, and powerful computers. And as they mimic functions of other gadgets, smartphones and computers return the favor.
Now that any of your devices has enough power and connectivity to work, play, and entertain, the distinction between them loses its meaning. Gadgets are just screens now, TVs anyway and size.
They see me rollin’
Nothing shows the broad expansion of a television set as LG’s latest prototype. The 65-inch screen is installed fixed to your wall, like a regular model, until you turn it off. With the push of a button, the display goes down to the base and wraps itself around like wrapping paper. It can fold completely to make it easy to store or carry around, or you can leave part of it to show. Hence the screen automatically turns into an information display such as weather forecast and sports scores. The LG device has almost nothing in common with other TVs besides the size. When it comes to function, it’s almost like a giant tablet. What is she then?
Everywhere in the CES, companies are exhibiting televisions capable of power far beyond their very pixels. Samsung now treats them like any object in a smart home: you can control the TV through the SmartThings app, which also governs the operation of room lamps and thermometers. Many manufacturers are launching sets compatible with Android TV, which means they work with Google Assistant, control gadgets in the house and get to run Minecraft. Sony and other companies are building projectors that can replace your TV with a touch-sensitive surface and infinitely variable size.
Manufacturers are even finding ways to do more with the televisions when they are off. Samsung, LG and others think of turning them into pictures for art, going from “The Night with Danilo Gentilli” to “The Starry Night” by Van Gogh as soon as you stop watching. If you get the new TCL soundbar, you can use the Roku Entertainment Assistant and keep the music playing or listen to information without having to turn on the power of the TV. Manufacturers have realized that even if people consume content differently, their televisions still occupy central space in the home. He is great, lives connected to energy and everyone knows how to use it – you cannot ask for much more from a hub to your home.