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HPA 2016: Pete Putman’s CES Review

INDIAN WELLS CALIF.—As a matter of street cred,Pete Putman launched his annual Consumer Electronics Show Review at the HPA Technology Retreat with a slide of his old Heathkit Crystal Receiver Model CR-1 that still works.

Putman then reviewed the price points of TVs, which are all over the board, but tumbling in general. In 1995, a 50-inch 720p plasma costs $50,000. It would now be had for less than one-tenth of that.

Putman said 170,000-plus people attended CES, including 3,600 companies exhibited on 2.47 million square feet of floor space. Sharp TVs, once renowned for its RGBY pixels is no more. Hisense owns the brand. Panasonic, Putman said, had a single TV on the floor. LG is pressing forward with organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, TVs, in part because it scored the Kodak patent for white OLEDs, which overcome the dreaded phenomenon of the dying blue OLEDs that have plagued the displays from their inception.

Virtual reality was big, as was augmented reality. Putman showed a slide of the line at the Oculus Rift booth that looked like Walmart on black Friday. It was long.

So Putman kept up the TV tour, which included 8KTVs and a screen that’s really too big to be believed. LG had a 98-inch 8KTV; Samsung had a curved 8K LCD, and Konka and Hisense had 8KTVs.

But it was Samsung that showed the “world’s largest” 170-inch TV. Putman said he didn’t know of another 170-inch TV that was not the world’s largest.

“You stood there long enough, you get a nice tan from it,” he said.

One display exhibit that caught Putman’s eye comprised four 65-inch curved OLED panels together, displaying different scenes on both sides.

With regard to high-dynamic range, the route to provision is turning into a maze, but the goal is clear enough on the display side. Just as there were a lot of high-definition TVs in the market long before there was high-definition TV, HDR sets are hitting the floor.

Changhong, one of the many Chinese TV makers, was showing 4K HDR OLEDs, Putman said. Samsung demonstrated 4K HDR over the air, if you could find it, Putman said. LG had a 4K HDR LCD, and Sony had a 4KTV with wide color gamut.

Samsung announced a UHD HDR BluRay player for $350. Panasonic also showed one but did not name a price.
Lenovo showed the Yoga X1 with an 14-inch OLED screen, with three USB Type 3 connectors, important for hooking up things that aren’t here yet but coming, Putman said.

There were also transparent displays and quantum dot displays. QD Vision demonstrated that quantum dot backlighting is more power efficient than LCD, the technology is still contains cadmium, which is pretty nasty to the human body.

Putman said the coolest thing he saw was a rollable OLED display from LG showing video. Sony first showed a tiny rollable OLED in 2010. Putman describe LG’s 18-incher as “too cool for words.”

Putman talked about the superMHL interface for mobile devices for delivery of video up to 8K resolution. He mentioned 60 GHz connectivity, and said 802.11ad Wi-Fi is here with the support of Qualcomm. He called it “Wi-Fi with rocket boosters.”

Also see Pete’s coverage