January 08, 2020

CES 2020: Day 1 Recap

by Robert Acquaotta, SVP Integrated Media

It’s CES week! Yes, it is the magical span of time between Christmas and Valentine’s Day that brings electronics and gadget fanatics more gifts and love than the two holidays combined. For 2020, the scale and epic nature of CES continues unabated: 11 official venues, more than 4,400 exhibitors, nearly 3 million square feet of exhibit space and anticipated attendance of over 180 million people. It is the world’s largest technology event and biggest annual show in Las Vegas. There’s so much to see in such a relatively short period of time, we have to break it down into manageable chunks.

DAY ONE TAKEAWAYS:

Samsung TVs are awesome

TVs are the largest and most visible displays across the CES show floor. Though every year screens get larger, thinner and brighter, the technology has certainly matured. The buzzwords this year are familiar and consistent with recent years: 8k is still proliferating across brands and (hopefully) more affordable, and the various LED iterations (OLED, QLED etc.) are still beautiful. That said, a few significant advances of note were on display from Samsung:

  • New Samsung QLED 8k models arriving in Spring 2020 will have built-in 8k AI upscaling. This will allow content of lesser definition (720, 1080 and 4k) to be upscaled to 8k.
  • Samsung’s new Infinity Screen TV has a bezel so thin (only 2.3mm) that it appears to have no frame. It was impressive back when Samsung unveiled this type of design for their Galaxy phones to increase screen size on a mobile device. On a larger screen -- the effect is breathtaking.

 

One of the knocks about 4k technology, until recently, was that there was little to no content being produced in 4k. It’s taken awhile for the industry to catch up, but now 4k has become far more commonplace, especially from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. Seeing the dramatically higher resolution of 8k (4 times the resolution of 4k, which in turn was 4 times the resolution of 1080 – remember 1080?) it’s easy to see why 8k would be attractive to tech enthusiasts. Building in 8k AI upscaling in their newest screens is certainly a good solution for delivering superior picture quality to consumers now.

 

CES 2020 Samsung QLED 8K TV Screens

 

5G is still going to take awhile

For the past few years at CES, 5G has been much heralded but seemingly intangible, with few, widely available products to illustrate its promise. Last year AT&T was much maligned for trying to pass off its new enhanced 4LTE service as 5Ge (surprise AT&T customers, you all have 5G phones!) The difference this year is the appearance of actual 5G products. New products announced so far include the HP Elite Dragonfly and Lenovo Yoga 5G laptops. Others on display include phones unveiled over the last year from Samsung and LG.

 

CES 2020 LG 5G

 

Though actual products make 5G feel more tangible, the technology is still clearly emergent and in its earliest stages. With 5G you can download movies and apps near immediately and have an improved streaming game experience on your device, but there are not many other consumer benefits available with 5G yet.

Late last year, both Verizon and AT&T made announcements about 5G rollout milestones: Verizon 5G is now available in 31 cities and AT&T will be in 15 cities by February 2020. Note that this does not mean coverage is available throughout those cities, but it’s a start. So, it’s still going to take a while.

 

Hey Google buys Las Vegas again

Well, not literally. But this year “Hey Google” messages again wrapped the monorail and Google again built a two-story “House” to showcase their own products as well as those of featured partners. This year’s “ride” was more like an escape room that ends with a fun slide down from the second floor (see below.)

 

CES 2020 Hey Google House

 

Google’s continued big presence at CES comes as they further broaden their portfolio of products. With their recent acquisition of Fitbit, wearables will soon join Pixel phones, Chromebooks and Google Nest connected home products and Stadia game controllers. All filling out a portfolio of consumer electronics products that many of the faded CES brands inside the convention center envy.

That’s Day One! Tomorrow we’ll be digging into what’s new in video streaming. Stay tuned!

 

 

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