CES Press Day - AI, Sustainability, and What to Do to a TV When There is Nothing Left to Do to a TV

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Greetings from sunny but rather chilly Las Vegas! Press day 2024 brought pretty much exactly what we would have expected in a year dominated by talk of ChatGPT and AI. All the manufacturers re-branded machine learning and robotic initiatives that they've been touting about for the past few years into their "AI" platform.

So, before we deep dive into the CES announcements, can I just say how much fun it is to see each year how Apple, who does not ever show at CES, finds ways to steal the spotlight and undermine the conference? There are a lot of urban legends as to why, but regardless, this year they did it again, releasing an early morning press release with the launch date of the Apple Mixed Reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro. The break-your-bank at $3,500 but technological marvel is set to hit stores on February 2.

I've done business in South Korea, and the level of security when you enter a S. Korean CE HQ is incredible. You have to check your laptop in the lobby. You have to sign extreme NDAs. So, it always amazes me that the announcements from Samsung and LG, and at times even the look of their CES booths, are so similar. Both companies presented their vision and tactical details of their AI initiatives. LG seemed to be the most obvious in its "Big Brother"-like use of their umbrella of over 700,000,000 devices to track you and feed its AI. But don't fear; it's not artificial intelligence, it's "affectionate intelligence." Feel better? I mean, they have this cute little walking, talking robot "Smart Home Agent."

Samsung was a little bit less "in your face" on that one, although also mentioned that data pouring in from its devices (secured by Samsung's Knox security product) will also feed the beast. And yes, Samsung also has a robot that resembles half of BB8. Samsung has brought back "Ballie" (which if it isn't already a South Park character, damn well should be). Ballie is literally a spherical projector, but now it has AI built in to follow you around and analyze your posture so it can start to project on the wall/ceiling at the correct angle.


So, let's talk about TV for a second. As I have said over the past few years, there is fundamentally NOTHING left to do to television sets. Outside of higher refresh rates to appease gamers (which we did get today with LG's 144 MHz set). The only thing we did get was screens that go transparent when turned off. We have seen transparent LED for many years from both LG and Samsung mainly used for retail displays. These are transparent micro-LEDs. Once I see this on the show floor, I can give my real opinion, but I still don't see the real value-add or incremental design benefit (versus the Samsung Frame set) that can scale on a consumer level. Yet today it did appear that Transparent micro-LED will be a "buzzy" thing at CES 2024.

Samsung barely focused on their 2024 TV lines at the press conference and by barely focused, they didn't even refer to it as television but AI screens. Their new 2024 line is driven by their NQ8 AI Gen 3 processor. The processor has over 500 neural networks which is 8x more than the previous model, enabling AI 8K upscaling and AI motion enhancing. It also allows for sound to be adjusted based on background noise and can do the same for gaming. In a move that bodes well for Samsung Ads, the ad sales division that utilizes ACR data to create audiences to target both within Samsung inventory and open web, Samsung announced that each family member in a household can now create their own personal account.

Samsung also introduced the first wireless 8K short-throw projector, the Premier 8K.

There is one television that seems to be buzzworthy: TCL's 115" QM89, the world's largest QD mini LED display. It has 5,000 nits and 20,000 dimming zones, runs on the AIPQ Ultra Processor, and has an anti-glare screen. No price or release date yet, but I am fairly positive that my good friend who went against my advice and put an 85" in his 'theater room' is already on the waitlist for the 115". In all seriousness, TCL televisions have been garnering strong reviews over the past year and are slowly making their way into a more premium category.


For many manufacturers, in particular Samsung and Panasonic, they put their commitments (which I believe based on their actions over the past few years to be authentic) to net-zero emissions and use of recycled and environmentally friendly materials to the forefront. Panasonic leaned into its Panasonic Green Impact messaging, setting a 2024 goal of increasing the number of net-zero factories, recycling nearly all factory waste, more than doubling their use of recycled resin, and nearly tripling the amount of their products that fit into a circular economy model. By 2030, their goal is to reduce CO2 emissions from their value chain and achieve net-zero in-house to 110 Mt.

Samsung announced that their SmartThings smart home platform is now integrated with Tesla's Powerwall solar inverter and in-home EV charging solutions. This collaboration means that SmartThings energy can enable Tesla Powerwall Storm Watch to notify users before a severe weather event and help prepare for power outages by activating energy-saving automation.

Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, and more introduced their new products and annual initiatives. The winner of the buzziest device (which is usually a negative as most buzzed products at CES don't seem to take off) is TCL's 112" micro LED. With a backlight of over 5,000 nits.

In 2024, Panasonic will be using a new type of sustainable material, "kinari" Development of moldable (pellet-like) materials made from natural fibers extracted from plant resources such as thinned wood and waste wood mixed with resin.

Like conventional resins, it can be molded, colored, and processed, and is expected to find applications in a variety of products and NAGORI®, a sustainable material from sea minerals, in its construction which not only helps reduce plastic consumption but also provides a unique, ceramic-like experience.

Panasonic also announced a new partnership with Olympic swimming champion Katie Ledecky to support STEM education, which was developed with Discovery education "Innovators for Impact" by creating an exciting virtual journey to Japan to explore how Panasonic is supporting more sustainable living.

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