Slimmer Larger and Lighter at CES 2008


CES 2008 has been one of the most memorable for many years. Those fortunate enough to visit the annual Las Vegas event will appreciate the value and enormity of the world’s largest consumer technology trade show. Highlighting all in just a few paragraphs is impossible so a snapshot has been prepared of just a few interesting developments though in a nutshell one could say the show showed all that were, SLIM, LIGHT, LARGE, ORGANIC, GREEN, BLACK & BLUE.



CES 2008 revealed the Slimmest and Lightest Plasma and LCD TVs ever launched; the largest Plasma ever, measuring 150 inches; launch and immediate availability of Organic LED HDTV; a Blacker than Black Plasma TV picture and a domination of Blu-ray.


Always a colourful event, the air definitely started ‘Blu’ this year with the surprise Warner Bros.’ pre-show announcement that it was to fully support the Blu-ray format and eventually discard HD-DVD in the next few months. “Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray,” said Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry,” added Mr Tsujihara.


Sentiments of many as this news created a somewhat positive wave of relief for many throughout the press rooms and the trade show floors as the HD format war may be closer to being resolved? Expectedly Toshiba needed to readdress its prepared CES strategy. Speaking at its press conference on Sunday, Akio Ozaka, CEO, Toshiba American Consumer Products said, “We are surprised by Warner Bros.’ announcement that they plan to abandon HD-DVD. We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD-DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps”.


Clearing the air, let’s take you behind the scenes for more revelations. Attending manufacturers’ press conferences every hour from 8am during the day before the 2008 International CES opened its doors to world trade visitors on Monday 7 January,, along with the World press were bombarded with the very latest in product developments and strategies.


LG opened the conferences with emphasis of marrying Technology with Art. Growth figures on their global positioning projections were produced, including a large Plasma growth. LG aim to be in the Top 3 for Flat panel TV increasing their current 9% share of Plasma to 15% in 2008. Their LCD increase is from 7% to 10%. Its 2008 Plasma HDTV innovations has four series, including eight new models, six with “Full HD” 1080p display capability, demonstrated publicly for the first time at CES.


The LG slim stage was set for its 1.7 inch ‘Super Slim,’ Wireless and LED backlight models of innovations with the unveiling of its LCD HDTV line – 8 series, 24 models, 17 with “Full HD” 1080p display capability – with screen sizes ranging from 19 to 52 inches.


On the slim theme, Pioneer introduced the thinnest and the lightest 50 inch Plasma,  9mm thin and only 41pounds, albeit not available this year. Project KURO is the internal theme for change at Pioneer, as announced at their Sunday morning press conference. “Thanks to the self emitting principle of Plasma, we were able to crack the code on plasma luminance…  virtually zero idling luminance in more than six million cells … result is, in essence, absolute black with no measurable light coming from the television … we feel that this will not only surpass our previous best, it will completely change the playing field.” said Yoichi Sato, senior executive officer and chief technology executive at Pioneer Corporation.



By late Sunday morning, the press conferences were becoming ever more interesting than in previous years. With Panasonic next on the agenda the momentum continued.


In preparation for the US Digital switchover in 2009, Panasonic opened its presentation with the CEA [Consumer Electronics Association] fact that only a half of US households had Digital TV – a stark reminder that the industry still had some way to go to educate consumers in such a short space of time. Is this a lesson to be learnt for the UK Switchover, maybe? Part of Panasonic’s digital and HD education, awareness and research programme, ‘Living in High Definition’, launched in August 2007 with 17 families throughout the USA, and is to increase to 30 families by the end of March and 100 by the end of 2008. Each family is supplied with an array of all HD products from the Panasonic portfolio. I’m sure many thousands will line up wishing to be on such a list with Panasonic UK should they duplicate this programme?


Panasonic’s VIERA [evolved in 2003 from Vision Era] is confirmed as the ongoing sub-branding for all HDTV’s. The new look Full HD Plasma 1080p TVs have a new size addition with a 46 inch. A fifth Plasma panel plant factory in 2009 with a production capacity of 1,000,000 sets a month enhances its commitment with Plasma. Showing a gigantic 150 inch Plasma HDTV and prototype super thin 24.7mm [1 inch] display panel more than convinced that Plasma will be around for many more years. Panasonic’s 2008 expanded Plasma HDTV line-up will include 16 televisions, 14 of which will be 1080p.


A Sunday lunchtime meeting with Sharp paved the way forward for unveiling of four AQUOS LCD models, two DLP projectors and a second Blu-ray Disc player. Presenting the D64 series clearly identified the slimmest, lightest AQUOS LCD TV ever, 25 per cent thinner and 20 per cent lighter than previous AQUOS models. Faster speed response and the best black levels for any LCD TV were also highlighted. Regarding size, a 108 inch TV is Sharp’s demonstration that LCD technology can also accommodate the growing market for larger screen sizes.    


The afternoon session of Sunday press meetings commenced with Philips announcing it was listening to consumers and looking at Lifestyle & Design. Commenting on the design decision, Philip’s new CEO, Andrea Ragnetti said, “Consumers have shared with us their desire for products with a simpler and softer, more sophisticated design – something that touches the heart as well as the head”. Represented with the new 52 inch LCD model, this new style of ultra thin ‘European Styled’ is Philip’s centrepiece. At the end of the session, female models walked into the room wearing the latest in MP3 design, players and earpieces covered in Crystal ‘bling’.


Samsung continued its evolution into future technology with the introduction of its 14 inch and 31 inch OLED [Organic Light Emitting Diodes] concept TVs, not expected until 2010 though should the market dictate then they will no doubt be ready to push the button. More realistically, its HDTV demonstrations in both Plasma and LCD were shown with imminent availability. This included the company’s two 3D-ready models of Plasma sets available in March – ready for the growing 3D games market with 100 game titles already available. Ultra Slim LCD TV models were also a part of Samsung’s vast array of products.


Finally on Sunday at 5pm, Sony launched and rolled out 14 new BRAVIA LCD models along with many other products in its incredible range of audio and vision portfolio, though OLED topped its HDTV line. With an ultra thin panel, very bright picture and crystal clarity and very low power consumption, this is surely the most Eco, Green technology for the future of TV? Beside the immediately available 11 inch OLED TV priced at over two thousand US dollars, Sony also displayed its much larger 21 inch OLED prototype – no date of availability given, though I would not expect it before the end of 2009.





Opening its doors on Monday 7th through to Thursday 10th, CES produced another amazing spectacle of exhibitors and visits to those mentioned plus many more including JVC, Hitachi, DLP, NXT, B&O, Dolby, DTS, plus hundreds of other companies ensured the 2008 International CES was surely a delight to visit. What of audio? A vast amount of developments were also seen, unfortunately we have run out of space.


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SOURCE: Researched, compiled and written by Stuart Hopwood, Group Editor, Ltd., UK. – 7-10 January, 2008