Home entertainment trends for 2009
Just as CES Expo was getting underway, I go under the weather with a crippling cold. Now I get to reflect on the trends of the year.
CES opens the year with a good example of where the industry is going for the year, and actually the next few years as the newest technologies are usually in their infancy. This year was a bit less flashy (no “biggest screen competition”), but none the less interesting.
Blu-ray Disc has arrived
With every manufacturer not named Toshiba focusing on Blu-ray for optical media entertainment, the format has clearly settled in the market. It appears as if DVD players are on their way out in favor of the new disc format. Everyone from Vizio to Pioneer had Blu-ray players, and several companies had complete line-ups with varying features and price points.
Most notable with the Blu-ray players was the BD-Live prevalence. Only the cheapest players are not Profile 2.0. This is a good move. Now the players compete on quality and connectivity features instead on what codecs it uses, and how you must update firmware.
Also present were several Blu-ray complete home theater systems. Samsung and Sharp had two particularly nice systems.
Flat panel goes on Slimfast
This year it’s all about how small the TV could get. Many of these big flat panel displays were thinner than most picture frames. They’re so small you can’t plug a cable in them, so they use a wireless connection to an outboard media box.
I can’t imagine the problems we’d have with a wireless TV in every room. I also don’t know how you’d place the gear in a closet on the other side of a house.
But they sure are cool!
How small can you go? Panasonic had a 50″ plasma at 7mm deep. That’s about as deep as a CD jewel case. Some LCD panels were slightly thicker than a credit card. That’s thin!
Internet streaming is mainstream
One of the most impressive displays of the show was from Vizio. Don’t tell anybody, but I want to buy a Vizio now. I must be off my rocker, but this display is just too cool. It has built-in WiFi Draft-N to stream Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon, Pandora, Rhapsody, Flickr, or any Yahoo! Widget. Presumably sites like CBS.com and hulu.com will be available in the future. And that’s not all, the remote slides open to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard!
Everything is connected to the internet now. From AV receivers to Blu-ray players, televisions to clock radios, you can’t avoid it. Panasonic, Sony, Pioneer, Sharp, LG and others also offer video streaming directly to the TV. The idea to have any content any time is finally arrived.
That’s the big trends for the year. Get with the program.