Washington, D.C. (January 8,
2012) -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will
give the pre-show keynote address Monday night kicking off the
2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With Microsoft
saying it will be its last appearance at the gadgetfest, the
Ballmer keynote likely will be more symbolic than one of
Like Microsoft at CES, the CE industry is changing, reassessing
past projects and future goals. Consequently, companies are
getting more creative and entering fields they once feared. For
instance, tablet/mobile king Apple is now facing stiff
competition from a host of companies, even low-cost TV maker
Vizio. And Apple itself is reportedly preparing to launch a
company-branded HDTV. What was once black is now black and
And speaking of the TV category, manufacturers are desperately
trying to morph the traditional TV by adding features like 3D
and Internet capability to compel cost-conscious consumers to
buy. While the new products have been met with mixed success at
best, CE companies hope that better marketing and (perhaps)
better versions of the devices will ultimately change consumer
But always looking to plan B, TV makers are also rolling out new
sets (OLED and 4K) featuring possibly revolutionary picture
technologies. Although they will initially carry hefty price
tags, TV makers believe they could boost consumer interest in
televisions as a category, which could lead to greater sales of
What the CES attendees -- and the tech media -- say about these
sets could go a long way to whether they succeed. Which is why,
by Wednesday, you might see a few TV company executives walking
around the show floor looking as if they've had a few restless
Add it all up and it
should be a fascinating 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.
So, as you make your way to the City of Lost Wages, here are 10
big TV questions that could be answered during the conference.
Will No-Glasses 3D TVs Be a Hit?
Toshiba this week will showcase a new 55-inch 3D TV that does
not require glasses to experience the 3D effect. Surveys -- and
sales numbers -- have sent a strong message that consumers are
not enamored with home 3D, particularly if they have to wear the
specs. Toshiba is hoping that the glasses-free set might
persuade folks to give the concept a second try. But if the tech
media walks away from Toshiba's booth unimpressed, it could be
another nail in 3D TV's coffin.
Will 4K HDTV Really Look 4 Times Better? Several TV makers, including LG,
are expected to display new 4K HDTVs which purport to offer a
picture resolution four times better than current HDTVs. But
will that claim stand up on the show floor? Will attendees say
"Wow" when they see a 4K HDTV? Or, just "Oh." With price tags
likely to start at $10,000, 4K makers better hope for a lot of
3. Dish Network Unveils a New DVR; But
What About DIRECTV?
The two satellite TV services often engage in competitive sword
play at CES, trying to out-top each other with new
announcements. However, DIRECTV has been a bit quieter here in
the last few years while Dish apparently still sees CES as a
great forum to bring attention to new products. With that in
mind, Dish reportedly will unveil here a new Broadband service
and a DVR that can automatically record all major network
programming in primetime. Will DIRECTV surprise us by offering
something as interesting?
Will Apple Finally Introduce An Actual TV?
No, not this week anyway. Apple skips CES every year. While
there have been rumors that Apple will partner with a TV maker
to introduce a set that comes with everything but the kitchen
sink, it's likely that it will not launch until 2013.
5. Will TV Makers Introduce Lower-Cost TVs
No. While consumers are clearly voting with their wallets and
buying lower-cost sets over new feature-laden, expensive TVs, CE
companies (and retail partners) make their profits from
higher-margin products. At CES, TV makers will want to give the
biggest spotlight to the biggest, most expensive sets they have
a chance to sell.
6. Will the OLED TV Capture
LG (again; busy folks these days) will showcase a 55-inch OLED
TV. That may not seem like an exceptionally large set, but to
date, the biggest OLED set has been Sony's 11-inch model.
set, which is based on the organic light-emitting diode (OLED)
technology, is just one-eight of an inch thick, compared to
today's Plasma and LCD flat-screen sets which measure up to four
inches thick. The set promises to offer a better picture than
today's Plasmas and LCD/LEDs as well. But because of its thin
panel, TV manufacturers have had difficulty developing an OLED
set at a size that would appeal to consumers.
The LG 55-inch set has been getting great media buzz prior to
the show. If it emerges as a CES top attraction, it could set
the stage for OLED to overtake LCD, LED and Plasma for the top
spot in TV sales by 2014, or earlier.
Google TV Make a Comeback?
Google TV, designed to make it easier to search for programming,
has been a bust, largely because it hasn't made it easier to do
almost anything. Users have complained loudly that Google TV's
navigation feature is hard to master. But Google TV is back at
CES with a slew of new TV partners and a promise that it has
worked out the kinks. We'll see.
Will Microsoft Hand Out a Parting Gift?
As we noted at the top, this will be Microsoft's last appearance
at CES, at least in a formal way. So will the software titan
surprise everyone by introducing a sensational new gadget of
some kind? Hard to see the company just walking quietly into the
sunset without doing something that will make people remember
With Smart TVs and other smart devices exploding onto the scene,
app makers will be everywhere here, proclaiming to have the Next
Big Thing. But will there will be a new app that indeed could
revolutionize the Smart TV concept? That could compel consumers
to overcome their technological fears and connect their sets to
a home network?
Will There Be a Next Big Thing?
Yes, will there be a new 'Next Big Thing' -- of any kind? In
past shows, whether it was tablets, 3D, HDTV, some product
always emerged with the tag, 'The Next Big Thing.' Pundits said
the device would revolutionize the industry, if not the culture
But this year, the early buzz has been that that product doesn't
exist, at least not here. There is no 'Next Big
Thing' on the horizon.
Somehow, I find that hard to believe. Something tells me that by
week's end, the media will be talking about...yes, the Next Big
Swanni will be attending this year's Consumer Electronics
Show in Las Vegas. Come to TVPredictions.com often for his
reports -- and check out his comments on Twitter at