2013 International CES: The installer's viewpoint

posted on Thursday, 17th January 2013 by David Slater

CES  4K  Events 

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I've been visiting the International CES in Las Vegas for over eight years now, ever since I was lucky enough to be invited out by CSE Solutions on one of its mammoth trips. In those days Ian Severs and his posse were mad enough to get together 30 or so dealers and take them for five days to the bright lights of Vegas. I've had the bug ever since. CES for an installer is massively different to CEDIA Expo. Most of the interest is on screens and what will be hot in six months. The show never disappoints and this year the focus was on 4k Ultra HD, with all of the big guns announcing models. 

Samsung is still the leader everybody is following, a fact evident at its press event; it was madness with queues forming around the block two hours before the event even started! When you look back five years, Samsung were a strange old brand, at best you would nip into Tesco and buy one of its 14-inch portables, but if you were a high-end installer you would pass the brand over for the likes of Sony, Panasonic and the then God of Screens Pioneer. Now Samsung seems to be setting the pace, its screens are sexier, outperforming in colour, blackness and online apps.

The new LED F8000 looks the part and with sizes up to 75-inch, should cater for everybody that wants large cinematic images. With promised best in class web browsing, the TV comes with a quad core processor and new high compression HEVC video codec. One difference this year was that whole home technology angle was being pushed, a fridge that tells you when it is running low on your food, apps a plenty, online shopping made easy with better integration and a massive amount of online content.

Over at Panasonic it had some strange new tech included with its screens, including an electronic pen that you can doodle on your display. Well let me know if I am wrong, but surely this is a second screen technology that should be used on an iPad not your latest 55-inch screen on the wall? One thing I would hate to see in my home is my daughter and her band of friends scribbling on my latest tech. Maybe this is something to do with the 'we can do it and so we will' ethos. I cannot see this being a big selling point. Another new launch from Panasonic was an app that lets you interact with shopping channels-  this looks like it may cost me money! 

Beyond Reference plasma
One product that did stand out for us humble installers was the new ZT plasma screen. If you are like me and love plasma over LED then this is a belter with black levels that are better than my old Pioneer Kuro and a superfast refresh rate -it knocked spots off the LED competition. The flagship model ZT60 was described by Panasonic at the show as having "beyond reference" picture quality, and standing looking at it I have to agree. It's about time we had a killer plasma panel that fills the void left by Pioneer!  Also on show was Panasonic's new range of lamp-less projectors: the PT-RZ470 model not only does away with the lamp but also has an innovative HDBaseT connection option which allows all video, audio and control signals to transfer down a single cable - very nice. Shame I couldn't see what the picture quality was like.

Golden audio
Of course, CES isn't just about screens. If you took the time to jump on one of the shuttle buses to the Venetian hotel you could listen to some seriously high-end audio products. One such room was the Golden Ear suite which had on display its new Triton Seven tower loudspeaker. If you are not familiar with the Golden Ear brand you need to try and get a demo, the sound quality is truly amazing and the new Triton Seven tower brings the quality to a cheaper more compact enclosure. The tower still achieves superbly deep rich bass and you have to take a look around the room just to check that nobody has sneaked in a subwoofer. I do like the Golden Ear range, it is a very useful addition to any installer's wish list; not every install has to be hidden and the quality of these boxes will out-shine most in-walls. The SuperSat 60 range of speakers will be perfect for those 60-inch screen installs where you want to mount the speakers left and right of the panel- a great upgrade to TV sound.

So in a nutshell, what is going to be big in 2013 for the installer? Well, content and the way we control screens will improve, making them easier to integrate. The TVs themselves look great, especially the new Panasonic ZT plasmas. I cannot wait to install one of these as 2K content is still the norm and these little beauties perform brilliantly with Full HD. Having seen what's got people excited at CES, I feel like 2013's going to be a good year.

Also read:
2013 International CES: Photo Gallery

 

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a
popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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Posted by Darren Shear on 17th January 2013, 7:42 PM
A great coverage of CES guys it looks like there is going to be some fine screens coming our way.....
Posted by James Middleton on 17th January 2013, 8:25 PM
Looking forward to the Panasonic ZT plasma, been waiting for a Pioneer Kuro replacement for 2 years.

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