The television category is a perennial CES staple and this year was no different. For some reason nobody showed a TV bigger than Panasonic's 150-inch plasma from last year (have we maxed out in flat-panel screen size?), but most of the other trends I discussed in the preview were borne out in the show's extensive announcements. Here's my take on what CES 2009 bodes for HDTV this year.
Plasma ain't dead yet. I get more than my share of e-mails, and have seen plenty of blog comments and forum posts that are quick to claim the demise of plasma at the hands of LCD. Judging from CES announcements by companies that comprise the "big three" of plasma--Panasonic, LG and Samsung--those big glass flat panels have a brighter future than Detroit, at least.
Panasonic, by far the biggest and most-committed of the group, bragged about its newest plasma factory (No. 5) coming online, and showed its largest plasma lineup ever, with five new series and a new 54-inch screen size. I'm really excited to review the company's new "NEO PDP" panels, the first of which, members of the S1 series, will ship in March. They boast significantly improved black-level performance and contrast ratios, according to the company, yet manage to cut power consumption in half. If the latter claim proves true, LCD will lose perhaps its biggest arrow in the antiplasma quiver (at least among consumers who care about the planet and are savvy enough to ignore the nonissues).
Absent any announcements by Pioneer (which will come in late spring, most likely), Panasonic's G10 series is probably the surest bet for Editors' Choice of any TV I saw at the show. That's why I awarded it Best of CES in the TV category. In case you're wondering, however, all of the Neo PDP panels, including the least-expensive S1, share the same basic picture-quality specs.… Read more