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CES 2020 News: TV Makers Face Consumers Who Don’t Need So Many TVs

Hisense, LG, TCL, and others hope features such as Filmmaker Mode and NextGenTV will win consumers back

2 min read
A Black Friday shopper looks at televisions at a Best Buy store on November 29, 2019 in Emeryville, United States.
Photo: Philip Pacheco/Getty Images

In 2009, the number of television sets per U.S. household averaged 2.6; by 2015, that dropped to 2.3. While the official U.S. government numbers haven’t been updated since, indications are that the average is quickly dropping, as more and more people use their phones, tablets, or laptops for solo entertainment, only moving to a big screen for group viewing, if at all.

Chris Larson, a senior vice president for TV manufacturer TCL, acknowledged the downward trend at the company’s CES 2020 press conference.

“We want that main spot,” said Larson. So do the other TV manufacturers, of course.

How to grab it? LG is still talking about the beauty of OLED displays, Hisense thinks laser projection displays will get consumers’ attention, and TCL is counting on improved contrast offered by mini-LED backlights to make it stand out.

The TV manufacturers seem to recognize, however, that, these days, it will take more than bigger and brighter and blacker displays to get people who are thinking about clearing TVs out of their homes to instead bring in a new big screen.

One coming new feature several manufacturers hope will prove compelling enough—Filmmaker Mode, developed by an alliance of consumer electronics manufacturers, movie studios, and directors that will allow movies and TV shows to be easily displayed with the various brightness and contrast settings that will best duplicate the theatrical experience in the home.

TV makers are also trying to better accommodate gamers. TCL executives think the best way to entice millennials—who may be used to their personal devices and have never purchased a traditional TV—to buy that big screen is to appeal to gaming, with variable refresh rates and other game-friendly features. LG also touted the features its big screens offer gamers, announcing compatibility with Nvidia’sG-Sync variable refresh rate technology. THX is getting into this effort with its THX-Certified Game Mode.

And if nothing else will nudge TV replacement sales, how about a new standard? ATSC 3.0, a.k.a NextGen TV, will be rolling out in 2020, preparing TVs to receive free, over-the-air broadcast television in 4K resolution. Broadcasters in the top 40 U.S. TV markets have announced plans to begin NextGen broadcasts by the end of 2020.    

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Digging Into the New QD-OLED TVs

Formerly rival technologies have come together in Samsung displays

5 min read
Television screen displaying closeup of crystals

Sony's A95K televisions incorporate Samsung's new QD-OLED display technology.

Televisions and computer monitors with QD-OLED displays are now on store shelves. The image quality is—as expected—impressive, with amazing black levels, wide viewing angles, a broad color gamut, and high brightness. The products include:

All these products use display panels manufactured by Samsung but have their own unique display assembly, operating system, and electronics.

I took apart a 55-inch Samsung S95B to learn just how these new displays are put together (destroying it in the process). I found an extremely thin OLED backplane that generates blue light with an equally thin QD color-converting structure that completes the optical stack. I used a UV light source, a microscope, and a spectrometer to learn a lot about how these displays work.

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