CES 2014 is almost here: gentlemen, start your trousers…

We’ve still got three weeks to go before the greatest consumer electronics show in the world (or at least in America), but already willies are being waved and backs bent

LG curved 105in TV

LG’s world’s first and largest 105in curved UHD TV

You know how annoying it is when you go into a shop in September and the tinsel and bauble department is already set-up, with Now That’s What I Call Christmas on infinite repeat over the PA system?

Well, as with Christmas, so with now CES, America’s greatest consumer electronics show in the world: it seems like unimaginative hacks have been planning their annual trip to the show almost since they got back from the last one, and filling idle webspace with speculation and rumours and – well, almost anything as they try to prove to their readers that the whole thing really is every bit as exciting as they seem to think it is.

We’ve still got three weeks to go before the whole thing kicks off, with every blogger, blagger and hack with any claim to interest in anything ‘tech’ hardly able to sleep not for dreams of Santa, but in anticipation of heading (usually at the expense of one of the big names in consumer electronics) to ‘Fabulous Las Vegas’ in time for the opening of International CES – so why isn’t it called ICES, then? – 2014.

And what’s in store for them? Well, the willy-waving from some of the biggest brands has already started, and in the usual comical style, with today’s press statements.

No sooner did LG announce that it would be using the show to launch ‘The World’s First 105-inch Curved Ultra HD TV at CES 2014’ than its arch-rival came back with ’Samsung Unveils World’s First, Largest and Most Curved UHD TV’, and so battle was joined.

Both companies seem to have put OLED technology on the back-burner for now – too expensive and still too tricky to make, maybe? –, and have gone for the old ‘bigger is better’ ploy, which is sure to get the blaggers, bloggers, etc all excited come show opening time in January.

Samsung Curved TV

Samsung’s world’s first and largest 105in curved UHD TV – the same, but curvier

Both screens are 105in, both 21:9, both have 11m pixels in a 5120×2160 configuration, and both use established backlit LCD technology.

LG says its screen has the advantage that it ‘enables users to access viewing information on the side of the screen without blocking any of the ongoing action’, while the opposition says ‘As Samsung’s 105-inch Curved UHD TV is the world’s most curved it provides almost two times vivid images when viewed from the side’.

No, nor me! One seems to be saying that they’ve developed a TV with wings for greater viewing reassurance, while the other – no, I’ve read it many times now, and I still don’t know what ‘almost two times vivid images’, let alone how more curviness delivers them.

I’m sure both designs will get plenty of coverage between now and the show, but not what either of them actually has to do with the kind of TVs you or I might ever want to buy.

Instead, it’s all indicative of the way the TV market has now got so bent out of shape by increasingly rapid commoditisation that manufactures will throw any old gimmick at the wall and see whether it sticks. 3D? Nope. Smart? Hmm… Super-expensive and super-thin? Nope. Picture quality? Don’t be daft – give us big and cheap!

So curved, then? Less chance than any of sticking, I’d suggest – and even if it does, it’s going to look silly on the wall. And anyway, there are signs commoditisation is about to start biting at those too expensive flagship TVs, too: you can now buy LG’s 55EA980W 55in curved OLED TV, launched three months ago at £8k, with a healthy £3000 lopped off the price. Form an orderly queue

So bang, it would seem, is about to go the idea of curved and OLED as an unassailably-expensive premium product. No more signing up for a waiting list – we’re now in the land of discounts, free delivery in a few days, free five year guarantees, almost anything to sweeten the deal. Provided, that is, you have the five grand or so the TV’s still going to cost you.

Anyway, back to the big bendy tellies, and I can’t see LG taking that Samsung claim of having the ‘Most Curved’ TV lying down. Ovens may be heating and bending tools being readied in Korea as you read this – I think we may have just seen the first shot fired in the Curve War, which may not end until TV screens actually wrap around your head and touch your ears.

Or perhaps a two-plane curve, so the whole thing gradually becomes bowl-shaped? If you hear that being announced for ICES 2015, remember where you read it first!

And no doubt there’ll be plenty ready to tell us breathlessly how that’s the most exciting thing they’ve ever seen, too…

LG curved TV

An upright posture is always a good remedy for any curvature of the back

Written by Andrew Everard


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