January 13, 2022

CES2022: What’s new in TV tech?

Technology doesn’t stand still, even in a global pandemic. The halls may have been emptier than normal, but CES was back in the room for 2022 and there was plenty of cool new tech on display. In this blog post, 24i JavaScript developer and Smart TV specialist Matthijs Langendijk gives us his annual review of the TV news from the Las Vegas show floor, and considers how it might impact video companies creating streaming apps for these big screens.

Short of time? Jump straight to the bottom of this blog to find our summary of the key Smart TV takeaways from this year’s show!

Battle of the giants

As with previous years, I’ll start my CES roundup with a look at the TV industry giants. But who’s on that list right now? Typically it would be a battle between Samsung and LG as they’ve been in the forefront of TV innovation and sales for many years. But data from the United States suggests Roku is gaining ground in this area. So we’ve given them a place in our CES2022 hall of giants. 

Samsung and Sony battle for LG’s OLED crown

OLED is a key battleground among the giants and LG has long been the undisputed king, but surprisingly, it wasn’t LG or Samsung that announced the first ever QD-OLED TV at CES. The honor went instead to Sony who announced their A95K series. What’s strange is that Samsung did bring a 65-inch QuantumDot-OLED display to CES2022 - they even won an Innovation Award in the ‘Video Display’ category - but they didn’t formally announce the screens with a press release.

Image credit: Samsung

Of course, Samsung wasn’t betting all its money on one horse. Alongside the QD-OLED screens they brought MicroLED, Neo QLED and Lifestyle-type TVs. It’s a strategy that’s worked well for them over many years: different options, at different price ranges, to reach all parts of the TV-market.

Under the hood, Samsung has completely revamped its Smart Hub and Apps environment for the new 2022 televisions. Still relying on Samsung’s own OS for TVs, Tizen, users now get the opportunity to play games (through Nvidia Geforce Now, Google Stadia and Utomik), watch content together, and even trade and use NFTs - all from the comfort of their television. It’s a big shift from ‘just watching content’, to being the centrepiece for many different forms of entertainment.

LG takes OLED to the next level

LG isn’t giving up its OLED crown lightly though, announcing further improvements to the OLED evo technology for premium televisions from their newly announced G2 series, as well as from select C2 series devices. Both series are powered by LGs new Alpha 9 Gen 5 intelligent processor, which uses the company’s ‘Brightness Booster’ technology to deliver an even brighter picture.

Image credit: LG

Like Samsung, LG also wants to cater to all parts of the market, so they unveiled QNED Mini LED TVs that use LG’s own Quantum Dot NanoCell technology. With this technology they’re able to offer amazing contrast, 100% colour consistency and high image quality, even from different viewing angles.

On the software side, LG’s WebOS has received an update as well. In the past year they’ve fully revamped their homescreen, and WebOS 22 further expands on that. Personal profiles are added so that each family member can enjoy their own range of applications, without the clutter of those from their kids, siblings or partner. They’ve also added support for Matter, an IOT compatibility and Smart Home standard that we’ve seen come in full force on many devices during this CES.

Roku quietly gaining more traction

While many TV-manufacturers use CES each year to announce their newest products, Roku takes a slightly different approach. They don’t wait for CES, working throughout the year to add as much as they can, whenever they can. That’s probably partly because their operating system is made available to different manufacturers, but it makes them an outlier. 

The most important CES2022 announcement from Roku must be that, for the second year in a row, they are the most-sold TV operating system in the United States. They also announced more details of their partnership with Sharp which will bring even more Roku TV models to US customers, further bolstering their leading position in the operating system market for TVs. 

Best of the rest

Just because brands are not Samsung or LG, doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Part of the success of Roku is the fact that other brands are rocking their OS, so let’s take a look at some of the other announcements made at CES.

As mentioned already, the honour of being the first QD-OLED TV to be officially announced goes to Sony. They also added both 8K and 4K models with MiniLED technology. Sony makes use of Google TV/Android TV operating systems, so they’re still one of the most important and well-known brands out there for the Google camp.

Image credit: Sony

Hollywood-tuned TVs from Panasonic

If there’s one company that has always shown amazing TVs (and other tech) at CES, it’s Panasonic. While last year they showed primarily gaming-focused televisions, this year it was the turn for everything Hollywood. Panasonic’s newly announced flagship LZ2000 OLED TVs are specifically tuned to deliver the best movie and series experience. And that’s not all. With new ‘Game Control Board’ settings, automatic NVIDIA GPU detection and improved latency, these top range devices are also designed to please gamers, an increasingly important market for many of the manufacturers exhibiting at CES this year. 

TCL makes thinnest 8K TV

Has 4K finally gone mainstream? Just a few years ago we were still wondering if 4K televisions made any sense given the lack of 4K content. Fast forward to the beginning of 2022 and TCL just showcased their 85-inch 8K television that’s a mere 3.9mm thick. How many years will it take before I’m writing about 8K finally going mainstream? 

Skyworth targets North American growth

Skyworth may not be a household name in most countries yet, but it’s already been one of the top sellers of OLED TVs in China for several years. At CES it unveiled plans to bring many different TVs to the USA and Canada in the summer of 2022, with both OLED and Mini-LED models to address the premium and lower-tier segments of the market. Importantly, all their TVs use the Google TV operating system. 

Android TV-powered projector from XGIMI

Did you think TVs were the only devices running TV-like operating systems? XGIMI has news for you! They announced the ‘AURA UST’, an ultra-short throw projector that allows you to beam your content to as big as 150 inches, all in 4K. And since it runs Android TV, users get to enjoy the same functionality as many regular TV users would. Furthermore, it has three HDMI ports, making it a potential replacement for a fully-fledged TV!

Image credit: XGIMI

Hisense for gamers

Another manufacturer that’s really betting big on gaming is Hisense. Their full 2022 line-up will include HDMI 2.1 features, Dolby Vision Atmos, Game Mode with Variable Refresh Rate, Auto Low Latency Mode and more, all geared towards making gameplay run smoothly on TV. Oh, and let’s not forget their 8K Mini-LED series which uses AI Upscaling technology to ensure the best picture quality, regardless of the content.

Key takeaways

So what are the key takeaways from CES 2022 for video streaming providers who want to thrive on the latest TV devices? 

1. Fragmented TV operating systems

One thing that I don’t think will change for many years is the continuing fragmentation in the operating systems used on TVs. Unlike mobile devices where the consolidation has been made between iOS from Apple and Android from Google, there’s little sign of consolidation for televisions. We’ve seen new TV announcements for Roku’s OS, Android TV (and Google TV), Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS, Panasonic’s My Home Screen (previously Firefox OS or Smart Viera). Not to mention HbbTV and ATSC3.0!

And just when you thought the market couldn't get any more crowded, days after CES closed, ZEASN announced its own entry into the TV OS market with its Whale OS Turnkey 2.0.

So, if there’s one thing CES2022 didn’t change, it’s the fragmentation of TV operating systems!

2. 8K is the future

Users might already be unable to count the pixels on 4K televisions, but the announcements at this year’s show tell us 8K is here to stay. Most manufacturers now have some kind of 8K offering so I believe it will slowly start to replace 4K as the standard. It might take some time for 8K to become truly mainstream because the current encoding standards and bandwidth solutions are not really suitable for 8K content, but it's definitely coming.

3. OLED for everyone

Samsung has been hesitant to bring out any OLED televisions up til now - for good reason because their biggest screen competitor, LG, manufactures the majority of the panels for OLED televisions. But that might all change with Samsung’s QD-OLED technology, that we’ve already seen on televisions from Sony, too. In the upcoming year or two we’ll definitely start to see more of OLED, this time also coming from the likes of Samsung.

4. TV screens becoming the center of Gaming and Smart Home

This is a change that has been happening for at least a year already, but has only been bolstered with the announcements at CES 2022. LG, Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic all have made announcements that target gamers to tap into this massive and fast-growing market.  Next to gaming, Smart Home connections have also shifted from personal handheld devices to the big screen. With most manufacturers pledging support for the Matter standard, we’ll be seeing more integrations between the TV and other devices in the household. Both these trends mean the TV looks set to take a bigger place in consumer’s lives, attempting to steal back attention from their handheld phones and tablets.

In summary

From a people perspective, it was a much quieter CES than usual, but that definitely did not translate to the technology perspective. The majority of TV-manufacturers made announcements that will reach the market in the spring or summer of this year and then we’ll see what consumers will go for. Will it be an affordable OLED from LG? Or will they try the first generation of QD-OLED TVs from Samsung and Sony? And will Roku dominate the US market even more? For the companies we serve, the main message is one of continued operating system fragmentation, but a growing need to put TV app development to the top of their device strategy planning. 

By Matthijs Langendijk

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