With CES on the horizon and Apple TV rumours abuzz, we can expect televisions to get a lot of attention. It should get pretty boring fast.
The big rumours circle around Samsung. It's believed the company is going to bring out a portrait TV set. But why? Nobody even broadcasts in portrait mode! There would be no reason for a portrait TV except to show photos that are taken in portrait mode. I'd hope the thing would swivel back into a normal 16:9 landscape format. I think this is a bogus rumour and if it is not, then the company has gone nuts.
Samsung vs. Apple
I do think Samsung is going to try to outguess Apple, though, and come up with something to overtake the mythical Apple TV. This might mean an ultra-thin screen. Perhaps the whole thing might be the thickness of a Galaxy phone. But what else?
Connectivity would be a big selling feature, but would that mean something built in? LG had long since integrated the Google TV system and I suppose Samsung could have a built-in Roku-like system with Netflix automatically installed. There are a lot of ways to go here. Nobody really knows what Apple is going to do.
I'm convinced Apple is going to somehow incorporate or use the iPhone or the iPad as a smart controller. That's a start. But will Apple follow the Intel concept and make the whole thing a content conduit for an iTunes for TV? I suspect so, but this may not be as important to users as Apple thinks.
We always have to note that iTunes became a hit because it allowed people to buy single recordings that the users probably had no access to. Previously, you had to buy whole CDs and with the booming indie music scene, half of the good stuff could not be found at record stores.
There is no reason to buy TV shows if you have a TiVo-like device to record them automatically. Movies might be a better proposition, but what can Apple do that Netflix has not done already?
I am not sure what Apple is going to do with this market. Samsung and the others may have a better clue since all these companies are part of that specific rumour mill. Even if Apple uses an alias in the market to contract for manufacturing and components, its sheer volume requirements will blow its cover. So, Samsung must know pretty much what Apple is doing.
I suspect that by next Christmas, the entire big-screen TV business will be a lot different. And I expect an Internet connection or Wi-Fi on every set sold.
OLED TV early dud
The only other event to watch for coming out of CES is the £6,000 55in LG OLED TV set. Samsung has backed away from the OLED large panel game. Sony was an early adopter of the technology, but bailed out years earlier. According to most sources, the reason the OLED TV did not appear sooner is that there are still problems with the longevity of the blue OLED. It's great for phones that people throw out every couple of years, but not for a TV set that is expected to last at least five years, if not a lifetime.
There are also manufacturing constraints, which tend to be resolved over time. Thus, I can go and buy a 55in flat panel from numerous vendors for around £1,000, or spend £6,000 for an OLED that may not last as long. This is called a non-starter.
If I were in the market for a new flat panel, I'd probably wait until the Apple offering appears and then see what transpires.