ISE 2024 Impressions: Some Curious Booth Bait

January 30, 2024 by Dave Haynes

I’ve no idea what it was like getting in to ISE 2024 in Barcelona on Day One because I didn’t get to the exhibition center until late morning. Late night and late next day movement.

A combination of heightened awareness of how things were going to work, and opening some halls early, likely limited what looked, a few weeks ago, like a major mess for Day 1. I won’t get into it again, but here’s the background and next steps.

Anyway, enough of that. The show looked VERY busy in the halls and corridors, and off in the various outdoor areas around the multi-building complex.

There is a lot of ground to cover and I spent most of Day One in the main hall for the displays. I have long since abandoned the train-wreck that is Twitter/X and posted impressions through the day on Linkedin.

Here are some insights and thoughts:

There are seeming even more LED manufacturers showing this year, and the one clear observation I can offer is that the wholly  unfamiliar, no-staff-outside-China companies are generally showing stuff now that looks good. In the past, there were always exhibitors with stuff that looked bad to terrible.

There are a few companies showing films and foils that adhere to windows and make them active, and other ones that have the LEDs embedded in the glass. They generally look good-ish, but not great. But I expected a noticeable uptick on those kinds of products, and it doesn’t seem evident at ISE. There are definitely companies selling that stuff here, but seemingly no more than a year ago.

A few things:

The best LED wall I saw was probably the 0.9 COB wall that is the big feature for the German reseller Lang AG. It was made by the US company I5LED. The reason I was impressed is that it was very, very hard to see any checkerboard-like seams. Lots of the other premium LED video wall products out there that are impressive in terms of scale and pixel pitch have readily evident seams that really show up when the screens are off or the creative has a lot of black color.

This doesn’t. My I5LED contacts say Lang pushed them really hard to make the giant screen look great.

As noted earlier, there is a lot of good looking stuff on the floor, including Samsung’s The Wall. This just looked particularly good, and the prime mid-hall position for the stand certainly helped.

Samsung’s other  showcase product is its transparent microLED. It looks good, but I was underwhelmed. It is certainly better than the mesh and film LEDs for glass and transparent set-ups, but I don’t see anything about it that really improves on the transparent OLED that LG has been marketing the hell out of for years.

Side note: hat tip to Samsung for not making people register and schedule booth tours like last year. Gloriously stupid.

I was in another hall Tuesday and came across transparent microLED demo products at the AUO stand. They just had TV and monitor-sized versions, but it looks the same. AUO makes displays for electronics brands, so I will let you connect those dots.

I saw lotsa dead pixels in these R&Dish displays, which happens in the earlier stages of product development.

LG has, for many years, made transparent OLED as its main Wow Factor feature at big trade shows. Weirdly, in 2024 the LG ISE stand’s focal point is … a tower made up of shape-shifting kinetic LED modules. Yup, the same tech that failed miserably for Coca-Cola years ago in Times Square.

I dunno why a product I’m pretty sure they don’t make or sell is the big feature, but it did stop the same people who pause to take photos of those stupid madly spinning LED rotor thingies that STILL show up at trade shows.

LG has this long-running habit of being “influenced” by new products launched by Korean rival Samsung. Samsung did smart displays. Then LG did them. Samsung did a CMS, then LG. Kiosks. And so on.

Now LG is marketing a set of cloud services that include a CMS, computer vision via a partner, and even Digital Out Of Home advertising support. I had a chat with an LG friend who said it was different, and I said I wasn’t convinced the industry would see whatever nuances exist.

LG did have lotsa transparent OLED in its sprawling stand, but it is a bit modest and retail focused. The transparent LERD film launched years ago doesn’t seem to have got any tighter in pitch.

The microLEDish LG Magnit video wall is not a big feature this year and the versions show were relatively small.

I did not see a whole bunch that seems all that new at Sony, Sharp NEC or PPDS.

I also didn’t see much that looked new at the stand of Chinese display giant BOE, though I have a formal tour planned later this week. In an odd twist, there was a time-warping feature wall dedicated to glasses-free 3D.

It never caught on back in the 2010s and I don’t see it happening now.

I always get asked about stuff that was genuinely different and interesting, so I will close with these three (it is after midnight and I am running on fumes):

Lots more I saw, but … yawn. Another giant day tomorrow.

Leave a comment