CES Diary, Day 3: Opening Day, at Last!

Ever since I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday, I’ve been curious as to how CES 2022 would turn out. The COVID curse led to calls for cancellations, but the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual show, vowed to press ahead, albeit with strict health protocols. 

I walked to the show from my $32 room at the Sahara, an easy mile-long stroll along Paradise Road. Nearing the venue, everything seemed business as usual. A fast walker, I passed by at least a dozen other show-goers, easily identified by their badges (around their necks) and dark sport coats. I also saw a caravan of taxis heading toward the show. And just before I got to Convention Center Drive, I saw that the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott was charging $30 for “event parking” just as they always do.

Approaching the entrance, the crowd seemed a little light, but not by much. I went through security and entered the concourse. On one side were bins of show dailies; on the other, a rack with free masks and stickers: green, yellow and red. Over the three bins — one for each color — was a sign that read, “Please use a sticker to show others how you prefer to engage.” Green stickers implied “I’m okay with handshakes”; yellow stickers, “I’m okay with elbow and fist bumps”; and red stickers, “No touching. I’m happy just to wave hello.”

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I chose red — not so much because of COVID but because I’ve long felt that handshakes were an antiquated form of greeting (show me your hand so I know you’re not carrying a weapon!), while fist and elbow bumps are just silly. I also grabbed a couple of extra masks, since the one I was wearing smelled a bit like the chorizo chilaquiles I had just had for breakfast at the Sahara.

Entering the Central Hall, I at first thought LG Electronics, whose exhibit was front and center, hadn’t yet set anything up. There before me was a vast corkboard floor, sprinkled with little stations with QVC codes. I soon realized that LG was attempting to bridge the physical and virtual worlds by offering visitors a series of virtual presentations right there on the physical show floor, from a press conference to CES Innovation Award wins to a history of the company’s signature, and immersive, OLED Experiences at past CES shows, including the 2017 tunnel, the 2018 canyon, the 2019 waterfall and the 2020 wave.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me, neither figuratively (come on, corkboards?) nor literally (who’s got time to download an app and then follow a bunch of instructions to get video footage from earlier shows — isn’t that what YouTube is for?).

The rest of the show floor demonstrated CTA’s commitment to health protocols, such as wider aisles, some of them with one-way arrows, and social distancing. The arrows were disregarded by most attendees; social distancing was hit or miss. Some of the biggest exhibitors, including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, set aside a good-sized chunk of their exhibit space for open areas with wide-apart seating. Others, including Hisense and TCL, had no discernible changes to their booths from prior years.

The big buzz on the home entertainment front was Mini-LED TVs, which everyone seemed to have. I also noticed quite a few CE companies were targeting specific groups with their TVs, including Hisense and TCL, both of which showed off TVs specifically geared toward gamers.

Early in the morning, our editor in chief, Stephanie Prange, challenged me to find a single 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Fail.

 

TCL Showcasing TV Lineup at CES 2022

TCL Electronics is showcasing its TV lineup at CES 2022, including next-generation mini-LED TVs.

“The world around us remains a tumultuous place, especially for businesses, but TCL has stayed nimble and chased opportunities to not only ensure that we’re taking care of our users but also to maintain our hold as the No. 2 selling brand of televisions in the U.S.,” TCL SVP Chris Larson said in a statement. “With consumers looking to larger, sharper, more vibrant TV screens for entertainment, 2021 was a year of ground-breaking product introductions as we released the world’s largest TCL Roku TVs and the world’s first 8K TCL Roku TV to much acclaim.”

TCL will upgrade its entire lineup of televisions with Roku and Google TV in 2022 and is expanding its XL Collection, TVs exceeding 80 inches. TCL will offer the newest and largest model in this series with a 98-inch QLED-powered television, available now at under $8,000. TCL is also launching the third generation of mini-LED on the flagship TV of its XL Collection — the 85-inch 8K QLED X925pro featuring OD Zero mini-LED backlight technology with an “ultra-thin” profile under 10 millimeters.

TCL TVs will feature Quantum Dot technology and wide color standards; more contrast with mini-LED backlight technology and Contrast Control Zones; and more clarity with new HDR standards and display resolution moving from 4K to 8K, according to the company.

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TCL is partnering with Pixelworks and other entertainment leaders to define and deploy a new motion ecosystem — TrueCut Motion — to its high-performance TV models for the first time, according to TCL. TrueCut Motion includes a new content delivery format and device certification program to guarantee a consistent filmmaker-approved output.

Gaming TVs from TCL will step up from a 120Hz panel refresh to 144Hz for even smoother action and faster game-feel.

Roku Expands TV Presence in Brazil

Roku has partnered with Chinese/Brazilian joint venture SEMP TCL to bring TCL Roku TV models to the Latin American country.

The SEMP Roku TV models will come integrated with Roku’s operating system and intuitive user interface, with access to more than 100,000 movies and TV series from third-party platforms such as Netflix, Globoplay, Disney+, Spotify and HBO Max. In addition, AVOD channels Pluto TV, Red Bull TV and Vix are also available. The new SEMP Roku TV models, varying in size from 32 to 50 inches, and priced from R1,949 ($358).

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Roku arrived in Brazil in 2020 and the SEMP Roku TV models are the third brand of Roku TV models to launch in the country.

“Our goal with these launches is to bring intelligent solutions to everyday life and make it even more practical for consumers to stream content on their televisions,” João Rezende, product and GTM manager for the TV, audio and video category at SEMP TCL.

TCL Roku TV Models Coming to U.K.

TCL Electronics and Roku are launching TCL Roku TV models in the United Kingdom.

TCL Roku TV models will be available in both HD and 4K UHD resolution, in sizes ranging from 32 inches to 65 inches.

The TVs will be available online at Currys.co.uk. Those who register interest now will get a discount voucher code.

Both the 4K UHD (RP620K) and HD (RS520K) models support HDR Pro which uses Dynamic Color Enhancement through 3D LUT technology to deliver vivid colors for all signal types, including HDR10, HLG and SDR. Both series also feature Freeview Play and an integrated Freeview tuner.

For movie and streaming content, the RP620K series supports Dolby Vision.

“I am thrilled to be launching TCL Roku TVs in the U.K.,” Bernie Chen, TCL’s U.K. country manager, said in a statement. “The combination of our affordable premium TVs with Roku’s operating system offers consumers excellent picture quality and ease of use, alongside a huge variety of features and streaming channels. I am confident that this partnership will help us maintain our strong U.K. sales growth and increase our market share.”

TCL Roku TV models come with Roku’s operating system built-in, offering consumers automatic updates, a customizable home screen, thousands of free and paid streaming channels and advanced features such as search across top channels with results ranked by price, and private listening through the free Roku mobile app. Viewers can control TCL Roku TV models by using voice with Alexa or Google Assistant enabled devices. With Apple AirPlay 2, they can stream, control and share content directly from iPhone, iPad or Mac. TCL Roku TV models also support HomeKit, which allows users to control Roku devices using Siri or the Home app on their Apple devices.

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“TCL was one of the first TV brands to embrace the Roku OS and together we have created numerous award-winning TVs with great picture quality and ease of use,” said Arthur van Rest, VP, international, at Roku, in a statement. “TCL Roku TV models are powered by the Roku OS offering consumers simplicity, choice and incredible value. The Roku OS offers consumers an always current smart TV experience, it is not without reason that the Roku OS is the No. 1 selling smart TV OS in the U.S. and Canada.”

Popular U.K. streaming services available on TCL Roku TVs include Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, NOW, BT Sport, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5. TCL Roku TVs also carry The Roku Channel, offering more than 25,000 free movies and TV episodes to British consumers. This includes the recently launched Roku Originals.

China’s TCL Televisions Add Cinedigm Streaming Services

Cinedigm announced that 11 of its free, ad-supported streaming services are now live on TCL Channel, the streaming entertainment service from Chinese consumer electronics brand TCL, on select smart TVs in North America. Introduced in North America in 2014, TCL is now the second-largest TV brand in the United States, in addition to being the manufacturer of Roku-branded TVs.

TCL Channel is a family entertainment hub featuring a hand-picked collection of ad-supported free movies, TV shows and streaming channels. The platform features drama, reality, comedy and variety from around the world, free with no subscription required.

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“TCL has quickly risen to be one of America’s most popular consumer electronics brands, and we are excited to be one of the top suppliers on the TCL Channel” Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer and president of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Smart TVs are at the epicenter of the streaming revolution, and TCL’s expansive install base will bring our networks to tens of millions of new users.”

Cinedigm is majority-owned by Bison Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm. Cinedigm channels now on TCL include:

  • BAMBU — The best in Chinese cinema and TV.
  • Bloody Disgusting — The #1 horror destination featuring an assortment of celebrated cult favorites, original series, and exclusive content.
  • The Bob Ross Channel — Official channel dedicated to the work of iconic painter Bob Ross.
  • Comedy Dynamics — The tastemaker for comedy featuring standup performances by Jim Gaffigan, Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Marc Maron and many more.
  • CONtv — The destination for cult and retro film and TV series.
  • CONtv Anime — 24×7 anime.
  • Docurama — Award-winning true-life documentaries, films and TV series. An eclectic mix of thought-provoking entertainment.
  • Dove Channel — Family movies and iconic TV series including Heartland, Andy Griffith Show, and The Lucy Show.
  • MyTime Movie Network — Dedicated to the movies we love- heart-stopping thrillers, date night romcoms, heartwarming holiday favorites, and original programming.
  • So … Real — British and Australian lifestyle and reality TV series, including ‘Gordon Behind Bars’ and ‘Only Way is Essex,’ from All3 Media.
  • Whistle TV — Sports and lifestyle entertainment for today’s fan.

Cinedigm Channels Featured in the Launch of TCL’s North American Linear TV Service

Cinedigm Jan. 26 announced that it has partnered with Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer TCL to include all of its SVOD and AVOD streaming channels in TCL’s launch of a linear service on select TVs in North America. Since being introduced in North America in 2014, TCL is now the second largest TV brand in the United States. The service is scheduled to launch on Feb. 10.

“It is strategically important for us to partner with all major television manufacturers as we pave the way for our channels to be as widely available as possible,” Tony Huidor, GM of digital networks at Cinedigm, said in a statement. “As one of the largest manufacturers of televisions in the U.S. by market share, we are pleased to be part of TCL’s new streaming service which will bring our channels to a whole new base of television viewers.”

Cinedigm’s channels available on TCL televisions include:

  • BAMBU — The best in Chinese cinema and TV.
  • Bloody Disgusting — The horror destination featuring an assortment of celebrated cult favorites, original series, and exclusive content.
  • The Bob Ross Channel — Official channel dedicated to the work of iconic painter Bob Ross.
  • Comedy Dynamics — The tastemaker for comedy featuring standup performances by Jim Gaffigan, Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Marc Maron and many more.
  • CONtv — The destination for cult and retro film and TV series.
  • CONtv Anime — 24×7 anime.
  • Docurama — Award-winning true-life documentaries, films and TV series. An eclectic mix of thought-provoking entertainment.
  • Dove Channel — Family movies and iconic TV series including Heartland, Andy Griffith Show, and The Lucy Show.
  • MyTime Movie Network — Dedicated to the movies we love- heartstopping thrillers, date night romcoms, heartwarming holiday favorites, and original programming.
  • So … Real — British and Australian lifestyle and reality TV series, including ‘Gordon Behind Bars’ and ‘Only Way is Essex,’ from All3 Media
  • Whistle TV — Sports and lifestyle entertainment for today’s fan.

 

TiVo, TCL Expand Intellectual Property Relationship

TiVo Jan. 21 announced a multiyear extension and expansion of its IP agreement with TCL, a consumer electronics brand and technology company.

TiVo, which helped invent the digital video recorder (DVR), has over the years invested in research and development to create software licensed to the media and entertainment industry. TiVo’s innovations make it easier for viewers to find, watch and store content across a multitude of platforms.

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“We believe this agreement further demonstrates the continued relevance of our IP portfolio in the consumer electronics space,” Samir Armaly, president of IP licensing of TiVo corporate parent Xperi, said in a statement. “The licenses provided under our expanded agreement will enable TCL to continue delivering the very best experience for its customers, even as the television industry undergoes rapid transformation and change.”

TiVo over the years has been embroiled in litigation with Comcast, Microsoft and Verizon, among others, as the market for digital entertainment distribution rapidly evolves and changes.

Jonathan King, VP of corporate and legal affairs with TCL, said the agreement with TiVo underscores the company’s commitment to recognizing patents.

“This expanded agreement further demonstrates TCL’s commitment and respect for intellectual property as we continue introducing industry-leading features and capabilities for our loyal users,” King said.

CES: China’s TCL to Launch More-Affordable 8K Televisions

Next-generation 8K high-definition televisions have been around for a while, typically priced out of reach of a consumer indifferent to a marginally (compared with 4K UHD) improved display screen in a market with scant 8K content (movies an TV shows) available.

China’s TCL is looking to change consumers’ attitudes to 8K with an upcoming slate of 6-series Roku televisions (reportedly priced less than $2,000) with big screens, improved operating system, LED-backlit and AiPQ advanced picture engine, among other features.

TCL is also bowing a series of 85-inch televisions in 4K UHD with Roku model, a more expensive QLED unit, and 8K model with OD Zero Mini-LED lighting.

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In addition to making 8K more accessible, TCL will debut The XL Collection — the company’s first lineup of 85-inch displays. Three different models will make up the XL Collection this year and each 85-inch TV will feature performance levels for every kind of home theater. From a simply smart 85-inch 4-Series TCL Roku TV that delivers the easiest way to enjoy 4K HDR streaming and an 85-inch 4K HDR TCL Roku TV with QLED picture quality to the ultimate 85-inch mini-LED powered 8K TCL TV with QLED wide color technology, the XL Collection will fit any budget and exceed the highest performance standards to deliver larger-than-life home entertainment.

“Last year was a unique one for TCL, but through it all, the team never lost sight of its goal to become America’s preferred consumer electronics brand and maintain its status — the number two selling brand of television in the United States,” Chris Larson, SVP of TCL, said in a statement. “While our TVs are getting bigger, better, brighter and more accessible, our other categories like audio, mobile phones and home appliances continue to thrive as well.”

NAB Show to Bow ‘Streaming Experience’ Content Showcase

The NAB Show is introducing The Streaming Experience, a new content showcase curated by streaming and online video expert Dan Rayburn that will feature more than 50 OTT platforms and streaming devices.

The showcase, which will give NAB Show attendees a first-hand look at the latest streaming video services, according to organizers, will be located in the Central Lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center and is open to all registered attendees during exhibit hours starting April 19.

The NAB Show takes place in Las Vegas April 18-22.

A living-room setting will allow attendees the opportunity to test OTT services side-by-side to compare content, video quality, ad formats, playback features and delivery methods. The Streaming Experience will feature hardware from Amazon, Apple, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, LG, TCL and Samsung. Streaming services on display will include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access, Disney+, Hulu, NBC Sports, Netflix and YouTube TV, among others. New services from HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi may also be showcased, dependent on their launch dates, according to organizers.

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“Streaming is a major focus of the 2020 NAB Show, and the new Streaming Experience is the largest showcase of its kind in the industry,” said NAB EVP of conventions and business operations Chris Brown in a statement. “We are excited for attendees to join their industry peers in this living room environment and experience nearly every live and on-demand streaming service on the market today.”

Additional details of the Streaming Experience, including renderings of the new space, can be found here.

 

CES 2020 Concludes Its Run With More Than 20,000 Product Debuts

LAS VEGAS — CES 2020 concluded its four-day run Jan. 10 after seeing more than 20,000 product debuts, most of them in the technology sector.

Over 4,400 exhibiting companies launched their latest products to 170,000 attendees across more than 2.9 million square feet of exhibit space. The focus, as it’s been in recent years, was on innovation, with large show floor areas devoted to smart cities, smart homes and automobiles, both connected and autonomous.

“CES 2020 inspired and connected every major industry across the globe,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES, said in a statement. “The innovation unveiled at CES 2020 will reshape industries, create jobs, fuel the global economy and improve lives around the world.”

The show’s legacy consumer electronics, meanwhile, dominated the huge central hall, where large CE manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG Electronics and TCL set up massive displays exhibiting their latest 8K TVs. TV makers are lining up behind either QLED or OLED. QLED stands for “Quantum Dot LED,” which uses a backlight. When light reflects on the quantum dots, they emit light. OLED, which stands for “Organic Light Emitting Diodes,” doesn’t require a back light. QLED TVs offer a greater range of colors and can reach higher levels of brightness without losing saturation, but due to their LCD chips, they cannot reach absolute black.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) was dominant throughout the show floor and will be a “key ingredient technology” over the next decade, CTA says. Companies debuting their latest AI solutions included Brunswick, Doosan, John Deere and Kyocera.

5G, the next-generation wireless technology that began its global rollout in 2018, also generated a buzz at CES 2020. Delivering data 20 times faster than 4G, the technology also has lower latency — meaning much less of a delay when requesting data — and massive capacity that will allow it to handle not only current devices, but also emerging technologies such as autonomous cars and connected home products.

5G deployment and adoption is spreading more rapidly than expected, according to the June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report. By 2024, 45% of the world’s population will have 5G coverage, according to the report, a number that could surge to 65% as spectrum sharing technology allows for 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands.

CES 2020 also saw the launch of innovative technologies not connected to entertainment or communications. Digital health technologies were a major theme, with advancements in digital therapeutics, wearables and remote patient monitoring as digital health addresses issues like opioid dependence, mental illness and chronic disease. The Health & Wellness category saw an increase of nearly 25% with more than 135 exhibiting companies at CES 2020.

The Smart Cities exhibit area expanded by nearly 25% over 2019, the CTA says, with companies and organizations including the Department of Transportation, Hitachi and Siemens highlighting products designed to bring cities fully into the digital age.

CES 2020 was also a key startup event, with more than 1,200 companies from 46 countries featured within Eureka Park, offering disruptive innovations, attracting investors and big-name brands. Technologies unveiled within Eureka Park include the Oval Home smart sensor that analyzes temperature, light, humidity and movement in the home; Yoganotch, which applies motion capture technology to help users improve poses; and Caregiver Smart Solutions with sensors that track movement and patterns to provide caregivers reassurance and patients with more independence at home.

CES 2020 also featured an expanded automotive section, split between connected cars and the latest advances in autonomous driving. The north hall featured exhibits from nine leading car manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes), FCA, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, and more than 150 vehicle tech exhibitors.

CES 2020 also brought together content creators, Hollywood, the advertising and music industries, media and leading CMOs to explore the future of brand marketing and entertainment, including streaming services, through the return of C Space. The 2020 program featured more than 60 exhibitors, including AT&T Services, Comcast, Google, HP , Hulu, iHeart, NBC Universal, Pandora, Reddit, Roku, Sirius XM, Snap, Twitch, Turner, Univision and WWE.

The CES stage featured more than 1,100 speakers representing major global industries, including keynotes from Samsung president and CEO of Consumer Electronics Division Hyun-Suk Kim; Daimler chairman Ola Källenius; Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian; NBCUniversal chairman of Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino; Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao; Salesforce chairman and co-CEO Marc Benioff; Unilever CEO Alan Jope; and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump.