CES – Day 2 – In amongst giants

January 10, 2007 by Dave Haynes


It was my day to go see the big fellas – as in big honkin’ displays.

The main hall at the Consumer Electronics Show is home to the big boy manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and Toshiba. The amount of time and effort these companies put into this circus is staggering. There were literally walls and mountains of LCDs and plasmas, with my entirely unscientific nod going to Sony for digging deepest into its pockets to hump its wares.

Pretty much the first thing I bumped into was the Sony booth and a crowd huddled around bunch of displays like it was a manger scene. Once I bobbed and weaved my way to the front  I figured out they were all looking hungrily at Sony’s prototype OLED displays, which use some sort of technology that I can’t properly explain. Try this.

All I know is that it is very new stuff, and not ready for prime time just yet. The Sony guys will not give a release date. The other thing I know is that the display itself is spectacular, with deep, rich, sharp colors and a panel that can’t be more than a 1/4 inch thick (see side view), even at a fairly big form factor.

I assume even when this stuff goes into production it will be seriously expensive, but that will change with time as it has for its display predecessors.

Sharp had a big monster 108 inch LCD, which is I think by a considerable margin was the big kahuna in that category. Samsung had a 102 inch plasma. LG and Panasonic had plus size entries as well. They all look really nice, but they’re all one-offs meant to generate sizzle at shows. They don’t have real prices or timelines.

That said, the huge fellas of 2-3 years ago, like 62 inch plasmas, that were popping eyeballs now barely generate yawns. As the bigger ones have come along, the prices on these have dropped. I was hearing dealer prices for 60 inch-plus screens at sub-$4K USD.

I am no video nerd so they all look swell to me. From my point of view, in digital signage going big is pretty critical to getting noticed, so the constant march to bigger panels is welcome. These things are starting to approach the size of high-quality indoor LED boards, but with much crisper images. Guys like Barco make very nice indoor LEDs, but I have seen some ghastly ones that for that kind of investment, I’d have absloutely opted instead for a smaller but far better looking LCD or plasma.

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