TV trends at CES 2014: Curved screen TVs, 4K Ultra HD fit for your living room and smart TV made simple
Smaller 4K Ultra HD sets with native content from Netflix from LG and curved TVs from Samsung which are ´the future of TV´ at CES 2014
09 Jan 2014
Since the Consumer Electronics Show first got under way in the 1960s TVs have always been the main event.
From black and white to colour and HD to 3D, the CES in Las Vegas has introduced us to each new stage in TV technology.
And 2014 was no different.
Samsung UK president Andy Griffiths told us CES 2014 was "all about TV".
So we caught up with him and LG UK commercial director Andy Mackay to ask where TV is going in 2014 and beyond. Think curved screens, more affordable 4K Ultra HD with native content, and simple smart TVs.
The experts were also keen to remind people that buying a 4K Ultra HD set was sound investment because the technology is becoming increasingly commonplace.
The future is 4K Ultra HD, the future is curved
Last year Samsung and LG dominated headlines at CES with huge 4K Ultra HD TVs.
4K Ultra HD offers four times the resolution of regular full HD, and the technology has been a major trend for both Samsung and LG this year too.
Another at CES 2014 was curved screens - with both firms announcing TVs with the technology. Samsung in particular went big on the curve, calling it the "future of TV" and unveiling a number of sets packing a curved display.
Andy Griffiths at Samsung said: "This year CES 2014 for me is all about TV. The next chapter, a very exciting new stage for TV, particularly driven by curved and the UHD products that go with it."
Samsung showed off its headline-grabbing 105inch U8500 Curved 4K Ultra HD TV, alongside a prototype sporting a futuristic screen which switched between flat and curved at the push of a button.
But more telling was the fact Samsung included the curved screen on its living room-sized 4K Ultra HD TVs too.
The U8500 flagship series offers 4K Ultra HD resolution and a distinctive curved screen. It's available in sizes from 55inches up - perfect for your living room wall.
Samsung calls this the "world's first curved UHD TV".
It also rolled out the curved screen on a non 4K Ultra HD, regular full HD model.
Andy Griffiths said curved TV is "the next chapter of viewing". But why do you need one?
He said the larger, slimmer high-def screens of flatscreen TV gave people "a new kind of viewing experience" but curved is the "next stage".
"With the curve screen you have this fantastically immersive experience, so it's the natural cinematic view. It's the natural way the human eye looks at visual pictures and it's another aesthetically beautiful stage of TV design.
"It's all about enhancing the experience for people - is it a better experience?"
4K Ultra HD 'ready for your living room'
Now we've covered the curve we can get onto 4K Ultra HD, which - although not being revealed for first time - saw a number of major developments at CES 2014.
The first 4K Ultra HD TVs we saw at CES 2013 were 84 and 85 inch sets from LG and Samsung respectively. They blew our socks off, but were priced and sized for footballers and film stars and the mansions in which they live.
However, both firms rocked up at CES with 4K TVs that were much more living room friendly.
Take LG's 49-inch set, a 4K Ultra HD that's small enough to fit on your wall at a price which won't require you to re-mortgage your house.
Andy Mackay, commercial director LG UK, said this meant people could buy a 4K Ultra HD TV for £2k - just in time for the World Cup.
He said: "The product will become more accessible to people in UK as we're going to launch a 49inch product in time for the World Cup to allow people to buy a 4K TV for under £2k."
Meanwhile over at Samsung there were also 4K Ultra HD TVs that were more living room friendly. Take the U7500, a flat screen 4K Ultra HD TV which Cnet said was a close relation of last year's F9000 - A TV Cnet described as a "favourite".
And of course the 4K Ultra HD U8500 curved screen will also be available in a 55inch model.
Watch 4K Ultra HD native content on your 4K Ultra HD TV in 2014
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is actually being shot in 4K Ultra HD, but until now people's main gripe with the technology is the lack of actual 4K Ultra HD content - known as 'native'.
But that's all about to change thanks to what Andy Mackay at LG called the "big development in 4K Ultra HD".
Netflix's upcoming 4K Ultra HD streaming service will be rolled out to 12 of LG's latest 4K Ultra HD TVs in the next two months.
Mackay said: "We now have partnerships in place that will allow content to come to the 4K Ultra HD TV. So Netflix announced with LG at CES that people will be streaming 4K Ultra HD movies to LG TVs, literally in the next month to two months."
Samsung too is also working its butt off to bring native content to its 4K Ultra HD TVs.
It's working with content producers in Hollywood to ensure content for its ultra-high-definition screens, said H.S. Kim, Samsung's executive vice president of visual displays.
For example, a 4K Ultra HD streaming service for the firm's Ultra HD TVs is in the pipeline from M-Go - a tie-up between Technicolor and DreamWorks Animation which offers programmes and films to stream in 4K Ultra HD.
Future proof 4K Ultra HD is 'going nowhere'
Andy Griffiths at Samsung explained that while there it may be a while before 'native' 4K Ultra HD content becomes commonplace, this isn't a reason to avoid jumping on the 4K Ultra HD bandwagon now.
He went on to explain that all 4k Ultra HD TV's will cleverly upscale standard/full HD content to 4K Ultra HD resolution, meaning UK viewers will have the opportunity to watch big events like the World Cup in near 4K Ultra HD quality.
"The great things about the screens themselves is they upscale content and convert a lot of the content on your TV," he said.
"So you can genuinely enjoy the benefits of 4K Ultra HD whatever you're feeding in to the panel and of course there are partners we'll work with to give Samsung users special content, special experiences which lead them into the 4K Ultra HD world - the encouraging message to consumers is 4K Ultra HD is certainly future proof.
"In a year, in the next few years there will be more and more native 4K Ultra HD content so it's worth investing in now."
Smart TV gets simple with LG's webOS
One in two TVs in the UK are smart, but many people use them for nothing more than catch up TV and often don't even set them up properly.
We're often left 'bamboozled' and 'confused' by smart TVs. At CES LG announced plans to change this with its webOS Smart TV operating system, which is here to make the TVs more simple than smart.
Andy Mackay at LG said webOS - bought from HP last year - was used by LG to create its next generation of smart TVs.
Why? To make smart TV simple to set up and a breeze to use.
He said: "The sole objective of webOS is to make TV simple again. So many consumers are bamboozled, certainly confused by many of the products available today. Smart TVs - almost feeling they need to be smart themselves to use them. So we've developed a tool which allows you to navigate and use smart TV in a much more intuitive and simple way.
You can personalise and you can use the product and scroll around the product in a much easy way than was previously the case. In the UK this will include things such as our unique Sky Now TV app, which allows you to on-demand access sports, movies and entertainment - only on an LG device."
Smart TVs offer many features, from normal TV to catch up services such as the iPlayer, and web browsing and more. With webOS you can switch between these without having to return to the homescreen, and you can have multiple apps running without slowing down the TV.
Andy added: "A big development with webOS is the ability to multi task to a much greater degree and you can have various apps open at the same time without the TV slowing down in any way. This, as well as the simplicity of using the product, is what we feel sets LG webOS apart from other smart TVs on the market. It's so simple it's smart itself."