Starting on January 7, the Consumer Electronics Show, better known as CES, is marking its 51st year as the largest technology conference in the world. And though past shows involved spending hours and hours (and hours) scouring Las Vegas for the newest, coolest and most cutting-edge products and technologies, 2021 is going to be, well, different.
Instead of manufacturers, exhibitors, attendees, celebrities and press schmoozing, rubbing shoulders and trying desperately to stay caffeinated, 2021 is set to be the first fully virtual CES—brought to you by COVID-19.
Former shows have introduced everything from the DVD player to the flat panel TV to HDTV, allowing us to get our grubby little hands on the future of digital entertainment. And though there will be no shortage of innovation in 2021, we’ll have to be content with watching it all unfold on a computer screen.
Before we head into this digital free-for-all, we wanted to give you a quick preview of what to expect. Here, then, are the biggest streaming and TV trends to look forward to at CES 2021. Because, with all the amazing TV shows and movies we’re getting this year, you’re going to want to know the best way to watch it all.
Being touted as the next generation of TV technology, set to take over from pricey, high-end OLED displays, MicroLED uses millions of teeny tiny LEDs to offer everything from better contrast, faster response and wider viewing angles, to richer, brighter colors and blacker blacks. The technology itself is not brand new, but producing huge screens with it is–making Samsung the first manufacturer to announce MicroLED TVs in 88-inch, 99-inch and a whopping 110-inch. LG will also be showing its version of the MicroLED TV and TCL will be showing its Mini-LED technologies as well.
As the name implies, 8K technology offers four times the number of pixels on the screen from 4K and a crazy 16 times higher resolution of traditional HD. That amounts to sharper, more lifelike images, as anyone watching the Seattle Seahawks play the Washington Football Team last Sunday can attest to—when Fox used a handheld 8K camera to catch some outrageously clear football footage.
So, what do you need to know before you invest in one? Yes, everything looks better on a higher resolution screen, but right now there are almost no movies or TV shows available in 8K to watch. The Tokyo Olympics should have been the jumping off point for 8K broadcasts, but, well, thanks again Covid.
So, even though there’s not much being streamed or broadcast at this level, CES will definitely see more 8K models announced at lower prices from folks like Samsung, LG, Sony and hopefully even TCL.
Whether you found yourself an Xbox Series X or PS5, or you’re still waiting to take one home, you may be looking to pair it with an updated TV with HDMI 2.1 ports and 120Hz. Current options are few and far between, but the hope is that CES will provide more. The email we received from HDMI this week touts, “the arrival of long-anticipated HDMI 2.1 features including [email protected]” Stay tuned.
Cordcutters and streamers will have something to cheer about with this under-the-radar broadcast television technology—which will be getting a boost at CES 2021. NextGen TV is based on the ATSC 3.0 standard for over-the-air TV—currently capable of 4K Ultra HDTV video, Dolby audio and delivering Internet content, but only available in about 20 US markets.
These TVs from manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Sony already come standard with NextGen TV, but watch this space for an expanded line-up as well as set-top boxes like the upcoming Zapperbox which can be pre-ordered now, shipping sometime early 2021. NextGen TV is also expecting to almost double the cities which will broadcast the service by fall of 2021.
CES 2021: The 4 Biggest TV and Tech Trends To Look Out For The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Decider.