CES 2024 Highlights AI TV Advancements

LAS VEGAS — CES 2024 ended its four-day run here on Jan. 12 with a total count of 135,000 attendees and more than 4,300 exhibitors, up 17% and 34%, respectively, from the 2023 show.

The exhibitor count is close to the pre-pandemic high of 4,400 at CES 2020, while attendance is still significantly short of the more than 170,000 who attended the show four years ago. But Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which produces the annual show, is quite pleased with the numbers.

“The resurgence of CES proves that face-to-face conversations and meetings are a necessity for the technology industry,” Shapiro said. “For more than 20 years, I’ve said that every company must become a tech company, and the diversity of exhibitors at CES 2024 proves it. The CES footprint and conference programming span the entire tech ecosystem.”

See our EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from CES 2024 here!

Shapiro noted that the show’s footprint of more than 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space was 15% bigger than CES 2023, while more than 40% of the attendees came from outside the United States, representing 150 countries, regions and territories.

The big buzz at the show was artificial intelligence, which was embraced by legacy consumer electronics exhibitors such as Hisense, LG, Samsung, TCL, Sony, and Panasonic to make their smart TVs even smarter.

Hisense, the Chinese CE giant that in the first half of 2023 became the world’s second-biggest television manufacturer, got a jump on its competitors with a press conference the day before the show opened highlighting its new line of ULED and ULED X TVs. The star attraction: the 110UX, which in addition to its 110-inch screen size is five times brighter than the average high-end set and incorporates AI technology to dynamically adjust contrast and depth depending on the scene. The company’s Hi-View Engine PRO chipset — featured exclusively in the U7 and U8 series — leverages deep learning and innovative technologies to create lifelike skin tones, refine HDR detail, and significantly improve image detail.”

Not to be outdone, LG Electronics unveiled its new line of QNED TVs, powered by the α8 AI Processor. AI Picture Pro offers picture quality based on deep learning, according to the company. The feature distinguishes faces, objects, and backgrounds within a scene, enriching the texture and fine details. Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro splits the picture into blocks and analyzes each in real-time to detect the darkest and brightest areas, elevating the details with precise HDR optimization to deliver three-dimensional image quality, according to LG. With Personalized Picture Wizard, users can customize the image quality by simply selecting a few preferred images from a given selection that are intelligently set up through deep learning.

Samsung Electronics in a press conference unveiled its “AI for All” vision, which holds that AI technology will enable people to experience their devices more intuitively and conveniently than ever before. The new Samsung Neo QLED 8Ks feature a built-in AI processor that can automatically upscale low-resolution content to 8K quality. The AI Motion Enhancer Pro automatically detects the type of sport being watched and uses deep learning to help viewers visually track fast-moving objects likes baseballs and footballs with crystal clarity. Samsung Neo QLED 8Ks also feature Active Voice Amplifier Pro, which uses AI to analyze voice and background noise and optimize the TV listening experience.

On the content side, Netflix returned to the CES show floor for the first time in six years with a glitzy mirrored booth where guests were being given an immersive preview of the sci-fi drama series “3 Body Problem,” which starts streaming on March 21. Guests donned a shiny silver gaming headset — modeled after the one in the series — and were taken on a wild cinematic ride rich with special effects, as well as a preview of the new full-length trailer.

“3 Body Problem” is an ambitious epic from “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss, along with Alexander Woo, that was adapted from Chinese author Liu Cixin’s Hugo Award-winning book trilogy. The eight-episode series is set in a fictional past, present and future in which Earth encounters an alien civilization from a nearby system of three stars that orbit one another, a nod to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics.

TCL Event Panelists Discuss Future of Streaming, Interactive TV

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. — During an Aug. 23 event to unveil its new TCLtv+ service and its IDEO interactive TV feature, TCL presented panels of streaming platform execs and content creators at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Renowned chef Rick Bayless, who appears as an animated avatar in TCLtv+’s IDEO interactive tech feature, joked, “I wish they hadn’t made my avatar so handsome.”

The chef, who has done 176 shows for public TV, said he was “really frustrated that I couldn’t share more” and that IDEO allows him to do that through its interactive tools.

Brainstorm Media president Meyer Shwarzstein, who produced a movie for Lifetime that has three different endings, noted “IDEO is like Play-doh for creators.”

Vanessa Shaprio, CEO of Nicely Entertainment, pointed out the expansive opportunities of interactive television.

“You can buy that jacket that the main character has,” she noted, adding that consumers can even order food through the service.

Interactive TV may change the way content producers think about content, she said.

“Maybe we’re going to have to start shooting additional footage,” she said. “It will push us on the creative side to really think outside the box.”

She noted that when watching certain true-story shows, she often looks online to see how it really happened.

“We don’t need Wikipedia with this,” she said of IDEO.

Panelist Victor Elizalde, president of Viva Pictures, noted he is an alum of Disney Interactive.

“You had some absolutely brilliant creators that were limited by the space on a CD-ROM,” he said of the Disney division. IDEO expands those capabilities, he noted.

“I feel like it’s going to become an explosive educational tool,” he said.

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During a panel on FAST (free ad-supported streaming) channels, speakers mused about how FAST is and is not like traditional linear TV.

For viewers looking at FAST, “It’s just TV,” noted Tejas shah, SVP, commercial strategy and analytics, FilmRise.

“It’s clear that the world is moving quickly in a streaming direction,” said Marcien Jenckes, Xumo and Comcast advertising, Comcast. For the consumer, he said, “It’s just content.”

Still, there are some differences between FAST and linear TV, noted panelist Laura Florence, SVP, global FAST channels, Fremantle.

“The amount of data that you get with a FAST feed” is very different, allowing content owners to know when consumers start and stop content, she said.

“On broadcast side, they can’t provide those kind of elements,” she said.

TCL Launches Branded Streaming Platform TCLtv+ With Interactive Tech

TCL Aug. 23 announced a branded online streaming service TCLtv+ that affords North American users access to a variety of entertainment programming, including more than 200 free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels and more than 1,500 on-demand movies and TV series from myriad content holders, including Scripps Media, Fremantle, NBCUniversal, FilmRise and Banijay, among others.

TCL is taking a page out of the online streaming playbook used by CE competitors such as Samsung (Samsung TV Plus), Vizio (WatchFree+), LG channels, and Roku (The Roku Channel), among others.

TCLtv+ is an enhanced version of the TCL TV Channel featuring the new “IDEO” interface technology that allows for third-party catalog content displays and interactive TV. The new platform aims to connect with viewers through interactive on-screen experiences, such as an animated chef (modeled after world-renowned chef Rick Bayless) walking viewers through a recipe that uses specific ingredients in their kitchen, while watching a cooking show.

IDEO technology aims to inform user entertainment choices with instant summaries and detailed recaps, including insights into the actors in a particular program. Users can also order food with a new ordering platform and utilize the “Suggested Viewing” option to quickly find programming recommendations.

“For countless creators and producers TCL IDEO technology can open new and exciting ways to expand storytelling and deepen the audience’s ability to relate and understand the motivation behind the characters in stories,” said Mark Zhang, president, TCL North America, at an event in Hollywood, Calif., Aug. 23. “We have a vision to transform home entertainment. TCLtv+ and IDEO technology are important pieces. We hope the technology will provide and enhance the ability to go far deeper with storytelling than you have been able to do in the past.” 

TCL is working with partners such as Amagi, Xumo, Wurl, OTTera, and Future Today for content launch and distribution, while other partners will be added over time. TCL is also working with content  providers such as Brainstorm Media, Questar Entertainment, Big Media, Nicely Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Tesera Entertainment, to enhance its IDEO platform offerings.

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TCLtv+ “Live” will feature more than 200 channels from major content distributors and studios, providing personalized recommendations for local news along with diversified choices for Hispanics, African Americans, Asia Pacific Americans, LGBTQ+, and more. TCL’s new service will also offer “YourTV+” with more than 100 titles at all times, and new titles being added every week from major content providers.

The platform is now available in United States and Canada on TCL televisions with Google TV, and will be available soon on TCL sets featuring the Roku TV and Fire TV platforms. Customers will automatically see the channel and can begin using the service for free.

CES 2023 Ends With Higher-Than-Expected Attendance of 115,000

LAS VEGAS — CES 2023 ended Jan. 8 with a total attendee count of more than 115,000, exceeding even the most optimistic projections of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual technology show.

In the weeks leading up to the show, which ran from Jan. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the CTA had expressed hope that attendance would reach 100,000, more than twice the 45,000 who turned out for last year’s show, which was scaled back by a day amid a rash of exhibitor pullouts due to a winter COVID-19 surge.

This year’s CES also had more than 3,200 exhibitors, about 1,000 more than last year.

“CES 2023 was the great reconnection and rocked by every measure — from attendance to the keynote stage to press conferences and product debuts on the exhibit floor — showing the entire world that in-person events are back!” a jubilant Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “The innovation unveiled [at the show] will drive economic growth and change in meaningful ways to improve our lives and create a better future for the next generation.”

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Shapiro notes that the show’s footprint was 70% bigger than CES 2022, with nearly 2.2 million net square feet of exhibit space.

Of the estimated 115,000 attendees, more than 40,000 came from outside the United States, representing more than 140 different countries.

This year also marked the first time that CES had a theme: Human Security for All. CES partnered with the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the World Academy of Art and Science on the Human Security for All (HS4A) global campaign to foster food security, access to health care, personal income, environmental protection, personal safety, community security and political freedom.

Also for the first time, CES 2023 had a dedicated Metaverse area on the show floor, highlighting cutting-edge sensory technology building immersive, interactive digital worlds. A Web3 Studio, produced by CoinDesk, was the focal point of the Web3, Metaverse and Blockchain area at CES.

And while automotive and mobility, digital health and sustainability were all dominant show trends, the show’s legacy consumer electronics roared back in a big way, with LG Electronics bringing back its signature video monitor “wave” and, along with other big CE manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, TCL, Hisense and Panasonic, displaying impressive lineups of new televisions, many of them aimed at video gamers.

Even turntables were back, led by Japan’s Audio-Technica Corp., whose turntables played a key role in the vinyl resurgence that began several years ago. Even Panasonic displayed a new Technics turntable and CD player.

One of the top attractions on the CES 2023 show floor was a replica of the cabin from the new Universal Pictures M. Night Shyamalan movie Knock at the Cabin (debuting theatrically Feb. 3), which Canon USA, a digital imaging solutions provider, used as the setting for an immersive movie experience in which visitors could try out various new technologies aimed at dissolving the limits between real and virtual worlds.

TCL Bows New Mini-LED TV With 98-Inch Screen, Video Gaming Functionality

China’s consumer electronics giant TCL Jan. 4 unveiled an updated line of QLED televisions (a new type of LED-backlit LCD TV) and soundbars at the CES 2023 confab in Las Vegas.

The company, which established a foothold in the U.S. market in 2014 with the launch of a branded Roku OS television, disclosed a new TV lineup across the S-Series and all-new Q Series TV models that include the company’s latest 98-inch screen model ($8,500) in the high-end QM8 collection to become TCL’s largest-screen mini-LED TV.

TCL is readying a line of QD-OLED televisions, which use so-called “quantum dots” in the pursuit of an alleged superior picture than OLED TVs. The company is also rolling out technology dubbed “Game Accelerator,” which claims to offer higher frame rates enabling high resolution and smoother images while playing video games.

TCL’s emphasis on larger screens across its televisions, in addition to upgrades for video gaming and enhanced cinematic home entertainment viewing, has helped the manufacturer become the No. 2-selling TV brand in the U.S. over the past four years, with unit sales totaling more than 25 million, according to the company.

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Big-screen televisions and football are frequently a winning combo, and TCL is spending big marketing dollars.

“2023 will be groundbreaking for TCL as the Official TV Partner of the NFL,” Chris Hamdorf, SVP, TCL North America, said in a statement.

To target football consumers in the home ahead of Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, TCL said it will rollout retail deals later in January to fans looking to buy a big screen TV.

“TCL’s pledge to make giant screens up to 98-inches will help the NFL continue to elevate fans’ experience and deepen their passion for the sport,” Hamdorf said.

Crackle Plus Launching Five FAST Channels on TCL Channel

Crackle Plus — a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company and an operator of advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services — has inked an agreement to launch five FAST channels on the TCL Channel free streaming platform in the United States.

Crackle Plus FAST channels include Crackle, Crackle Classics, its newly launched Chicken Soup for the Soul FAST channel, action-fueled network Popcornflix and Truli, its faith and family streaming service.

TCL’s viewers will gain access to the Crackle Plus library with original and exclusive programming from Crackle, including the series “Taboo” and the feature film The Mercy; Crackle Classics’ film and TV series such as the “Laurel and Hardy” and “Little Rascals” libraries; adventure and action-packed shows from Popcornflix, such as the feature Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956) and the two-part limited series “Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island”; an extensive collection of female-led shows from Chicken Soup for the Soul, including “Smart Home Nation” and “Mothers and Daughters”; and family-friendly and faith-based content from Truli, such as the critically acclaimed Bible series “The Chosen.” 

“We’re thrilled to bring our constantly evolving library of content to TCL viewers since across all five of these different services; there is sure to be something to satisfy everyone,” president of Crackle Plus Philippe Guelton said in a statement. “Enlarging our distribution with TCL also reflects our determination to provide consumers with the best free entertainment with the support of our advertising partners who will be exposed to a completely fresh audience.” 

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“Crackle is a respected brand in the streaming entertainment industry, and we are thrilled to be adding their five channels to TCL’s robust lineup,” Rebecca Wan of FFalcon, responsible for the global operation of TCL Smart Screens, said in a statement. “TCL is committed to the free streaming space, and we continue to provide value to our audience by partnering with stellar brands like Crackle to deliver our customers top-shelf free content.” 

Crackle Plus’ recent releases include the exclusive scripted series “Les Norton,” which stars Alexander Bertram and Rebel Wilson; the suspense thriller Blast; “Inside the Black Box,” hosted by Joe Morton; the thriller series “In the Vault”; and the award-winning BBC series “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Crackle Plus also recently announced season three of the series “Going From Broke.”

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.