Huge, smart, modular: the next generation of televisions has arrived

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The novel, extravagant televisions shown off at last week’s CES trade fair in Las Vegas won’t be showing up in living rooms around the world anytime soon. But electronics manufacturers at CES did offer a clear indication of where the TV trends of tomorrow are heading – and it seems the television as we know it is gone for good.

Based on the innovations put forward by companies like Samsung, LG and Sony, the TV of the future will not only be a display device with an Internet connection, but also a large, slim, colourful, variable and, above all, smart home office.

The most eye-catching of the innovations in Las Vegas was Samsung’s giant-screen TV known as The Wall. The 146-inch (3.71-metre) screen consists of many modules roughly the size of a smartphone, which can be assembled in different ways. Samsung relies on a technology called Micro-LED, in which every one of the TV’s pixels is a single diode.

It remains unclear when and how it will be possible to order your own TV based on your own size specifications, as well as how it will be assembled. Prices have also yet to be announced.

While 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) TVs are gradually appearing in living rooms around the world, manufacturers in Las Vegas already had their eyes on the next big step: 8K resolution, or 7,680 by 4,320 pixels.

Samsung, as well as LG, TCL and other electronics manufacturers, already offer screens with 8K, the latest in ultra-high-definition. While there are relatively few films produced for 4D and plenty of TV channels that don’t even broadcast in Full HD (1,920 to 1,080 pixels), lower-quality images can simply be extrapolated. For its part, Samsung relies on intelligent upscaling, which can convert any footage into high resolution with the help of artificial intelligence.

LG will also rely on artificial intelligence for its televisions of tomorrow. With the company’s new ThinQ platform, televisions and other home appliances will recognise the habits of their users, thus leading to better programme recommendations. But that’s not all: the open platform is designed to make a TV the control centre for several other networked devices in the home, including lights, speakers, washing machines or household robots.

At first, however, consumers shouldn’t expect too many miracles from artificial intelligence in TVs, says Klaus Boehm, Head of Media at the consulting firm Deloitte. What users can expect in the near future are, for example, intelligent recommendations based on their viewing behaviour, with a TV finding similar choices from streaming services or media libraries. There is still a way to go before a smart TV can be a home’s command centre.

In the meantime, remote controls are likely to be replaced by voice commands. Samsung’s somewhat hapless voice-activated assistant Bixby will be brought on board the company’s smart TV, while LG’s new OLED models will feature Google Assistant.

Users will also be able to control Sony TVs with voice commands via connected speakers such as Google Home. Meanwhile Chinese manufacturer Hisense’s new 4K models will employ Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to communicate not only with users, but also with other networked devices and Amazon’s purchasing platform.

Luckily, beyond the futuristic technology and the grand promise of artificial intelligence, there are still some new products for consumers to enjoy right away. These include Samsung’s latest QLED models, or Sony’s AF8 series with OLED display. Sony also offers the XF series of 4K TVs, with the XF80, 85 and 90 coming in sizes ranging from 49 to 75 inches.

Finally, besides its new OLED models, LG is also launching LCD televisions with a display technology called Nano Cell, which will provide clear images even at wide angles. — dpa