You might be forgiven for concluding that CES this year was all about gorgeous UHD screens, bendy phones and of course my personal favourite, the HAPILabs motion-sensor fork that vibrates to tell you when you are eating too fast. For TV aficionados like ourselves, CES presented a spectacular offering of the next generation of smart TVs, the world’s largest 3D video wall and a gentle reminder about the remarkable potential of an 8K resolution. 16 times better than a standard HD TV, video looks nothing short of spectacular; it looks like we may even be able buy one in the fairly near future, albeit for a staggering amount of money!
While just a prototype at the moment, it shows the technological roadmap for the years to come. The hardware this year, in particular the mammoth 4K and OLED resolution screens on display from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony to name but a few, has understandably sent our collective jaw dropping to the floor. 4K and OLED were undoubtedly the biggest trend to emerge from CES. No longer just an experimental technology, they are clearly part of every TV manufacturer’s future plans.
Despite all the hype, I couldn’t help wondering whether the hardware on show is the catalyst for innovation that many of the big players seem to be trying to portray it in their efforts to out-muscle one another. It was suggested in a recent Informa webinar that the big players were reverting to safety mode, competing on old battlegrounds over screen size and resolution instead of concentrating upon TV services. 3DTV, the ‘next big thing’ from the 2011 show, seems to have had a very small presence at the show; this is reflected in recent NPD research which showed that 68% of consumers are happy with the hardware that they already have, and do not feel the urgent need to upgrade to the next ‘next big thing’. So if hardware isn’t the biggest story anymore, what are we to think about the other trends to come out of CES this year?
Topics of particular interest to those writing about the show were multiscreen, the ascendance of mobile video and of course the importance of delivering the best possible user experience for the consumer. In today’s industry, the traditional living room TV experience is facing sterner competition than ever. There has been a fundamental shift in consumer viewing habits; now more than ever, consumers expect their content to be delivered in high quality anywhere, at any time and on any device. The explosion of handheld media consumption devices has prompted an evolution in TV, with an increased focus upon the services you can use and the apps that you can run. Smartphones and tablets are becoming hub devices around which lifestyle services are curated.
User-experience was also featured prominently. With the prevalence of internet connected smart TVs, the amount that the consumer can actually do, be that searching the web, using social media or any number of other uses, has increased. Motion as a method of control was once more a theme, but voice control was far more prominent; built in to many current smartphones and tablets, consumers are utilising this function more and more to access their content. In all though, a more streamlined approach is needed; having recognised this, the focus now for many in the industry seems to be on creating an intuitive, user-friendly experience for the consumer across all platforms.