The year has barely started, but the tech world has already begun another annual rotation in the form of the perennial Las Vegas consumer technology launchpad, CES2024, writes Mark Mayne.
The show historically plays a substantial role in setting the tone for the tech industry for the rest of the year, as well as highlighting progress on the key trends such as 8K, VR/XR and automotive tech, all of which tend to make a strong showing. Another key question will be around attendee numbers, which recovered post-pandemic to 115,000 visitors in 2023, according to show organiser, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
Here we’ll take a look through a selection of the biggest media and tech launches at the show, some of the key trends, and what impact these are likely to have throughout the coming year.
Resolution Wars Continue
CES has always been a key moment in the AV calendar, when the biggest manufacturers in panels come together, promote their various enhancement technologies and announce the newest ranges. With Samsung, LG, Sony, all vying for the same space, there will be some serious innovation on show. The big news will be in the 100-inch TV segment (a fact that was also true way back in 2019), but there will be plenty of OLED and Mini-LED activity too, as well as a slew of transparent displays from both LG and Samsung in particular, which look to be moving from the prototype stage of former years towards a more production-ready design.
LG’s new OLED lineup makes much of an updated Alpha 11 AI processor that offers four times the performance of last year’s models, upscaling objects and backgrounds to reduce blur and claims to analyse and adjust colours to “best convey the mood and emotional elements intended by filmmakers.” While the resolution remains at 4K, refresh rates have increased to 144Hz.
Read more The Best Stories of IBC2023
Samsung, meanwhile, is sticking to the ‘bigger is better’ UHD playbook, with two new 8K TV lines at CES, along with an 8K home theatre projector. The Neo QLED QN900D relies on Samsung’s 8K AI Upscaling Pro image processing engine to convert 4K content into 8K, and also upscale lower-res content to 4K. The flagship QN900D supports variable refresh rate (VRR) at up to 240Hz, while the QN800D offers a 120Hz refresh rate and no AI upscaling.
Separately, Samsung Display has also teased that the 2024 QD-OLED TV panel will be capable of “utilising advanced panel drive technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve a maximum brightness of over 3000 nits. This makes it the brightest OLED TV panel available…” The new S95D QD-OLED TV also features an unusually competent glare-free display that minimises reflections.
The projector market continues to diversify too, with Xgimi’s Horizon Max - claimed to be the world’s first IMAX Enhanced long throw projector, debuting at CES2024. The projector follows last year’s Xgimi Horizon Ultra, the world’s first Dolby Vision-compatible long throw projector. Both devices have Google TV onboard, ensuring they’ll be relatively plug-and-play.
Gaming Tech - Enhanced Response Times and 3D (Again)
Of course, the battle for eyeballs is not restricted to the living room, with the world of esports commanding vast engagement. In clear recognition of this market, LG is demonstrating what it claims is an ‘industry first’ 480Hz QHD Gaming OLED display, an ultra-high refresh rate coupled with the fastest response time (0.03ms) of any panel on the market today.
LG Display is set to launch the 27-inch 480Hz QHD Gaming OLED display during the first half of the year. The company will unveil its full lineup of Gaming OLED displays in sizes 27, 31.5, 34, 39, and 45 inches at CES 2024 as it announces its entry into the high-end gaming display market.
“To strengthen our leadership in the high-end gaming display market, we will continue to harness the power of OLED’s distinctive qualities such as ultra-high refresh rates, fast response times, and perfect black for next-level viewing experiences,” said Won-seok Kang, Vice President and Head of the Large Display Product Planning Division at LG Display.
Meanwhile, gaming brand Razer is promising two gaming world firsts at CES2024, in the shape of a brace of laptops with a 18-inch 4K display that’s capable of running at up to 165Hz and a 16-inch 240Hz OLED respectively.
Also worthy of note is Acer’s Aspire 3D 15 SpatialLabs Edition, which offers glasses-free 3D at a more affordable level than ever before - though whether this will attract developers and buyers is another matter.
Interestingly, LG is also tackling the content side of the equation, displaying a new lineup of ‘LG MyView’ smart monitors. The monitors have webOS platform baked in, so that users can stream content and listen to music without connecting to a PC, and feature LG IPS 4K displays to boot.
VR, AR, and XR
They might not be new technologies, and certainly the hype around mixed reality (MR) and extended reality (XR) has proved to be a slow-burner, but 2024 is set to be the year of XR. With Apple’s Vision Pro set for launch early in the year, the market will be on tenterhooks to capitalise on the renewed interest, which will also centre around the Qualcomm XR2+ Gen2 VR chip. That chipset is apparently at the heart of a Samsung/Google XR headset, of which much is rumoured and little known for sure, but a launch date of late 2024 is often mentioned.
Unsurprisingly, AI is set to be a key player at CES2024 - ‘front and center’ as the organisers put it, with examples from exhibitors as diverse as Garmin, Intel, Qualcomm and Walmart - the latter three likely to incorporate AI into their respective keynotes. Other touchpoints include a presentation on ‘Great Minds, Bold Visions: What’s Next for AI?’, ‘Emerging Technologies Shaping the Tech Workforce’ and research that will outline ‘Technology and AI Building a Sustainable, Secure, Superior Future’.
The robots really are coming
AI may be big business, but the classic Asimov-era artificial intelligence requires a humanoid automaton, which might not be particularly practical, but always steals the show, as Tesla has proved several times, most recently with the Optimus 2.
CES2024 will star the Kepler Humanoid Robot, a 178cm (5 ’10”), 85kg (187 lbs.) humanoid bot with a dexterous hand capable of 12 degrees of freedom. Kepler’s series of humanoid robots are apparently poised to enter mass production and commence shipping in Q3 2024, priced at approximately US$30,000.
In-Car Entertainment - Atmos Arrives
CES has long been a guiding light in the automotive tech sphere, and 2024 looks to be no different, with Honda announcing that it will be showing off new EVs at the event. Toyota and Hyundai are likely to make a splash too.
One announcement from set-top boxes (STB) and smart TV software firm 3SS features the integration of Dolby Atmos into an automotive entertainment platform, 3Ready Automotive, highlighting the potential applications for immersive entertainment in-vehicle.
The CES2024 demo will feature German VOD service maxdome’s Dolby Atmos-enriched programming and will allow automakers to bring premium studio content via maxdome to all their cars with streamlined technical integration and certification. The Dolby Atmos-capable 3Ready entertainment platform can be deployed and scaled across Android Automotive OS, Linux, QNX and AOSP (Android Automotive Open Source Project).
“Together with Dolby and 3SS, we’re enabling carmakers to bring the latest premium video content to their customers with the most immersive audio experience,“ commented Hans D. Henseleit, CEO at maxdome.
Media Celebrity High Notes
As well as big tech names, a selection of media industry stars are also set to shine at the show, with the prospective cast including Robert Downey Jr, Game of Thrones Producers David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss, Blake Griffin and Ryan Kalil of Mortal Media, Chiara and Bianca D’Ambrosio of Mirror Image Films, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, content creators from T-Pain to Wu-Tang Clan, Ludacris and almost inevitably, Will.i.am.