What we learned from CES 2023
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OPINION: If you’ve read this, CES will be drawing to a close for another year, and the products and services announced at the event will continue to shuffle as they head toward their release dates.
CES is always an interesting time as it provides an indication of where companies will be focusing their time and resources, as well as the key battlegrounds to come over the course of the year.
With so many announcements to make, I’m not going to bombard you with tons of clues, but rather the top AV highlights from CES 2023.
OLED TVs cure one of their biggest weaknesses
There were two core issues that critics of OLED technology have always pointed the finger at with disapproval. One of these is image retention, a problem that’s still prevalent but is now fairly manageable thanks to preemptive technology in TVs. The other problem was a general lack of brightness.
OLED TV manufacturers are clearly aware of this as TV brands have been trying to increase the luminance of OLED panels in recent years. LG’s OLED EX panels and OLED Evo software helped, while Samsung’s QD OLED screens also helped boost peak brightness to over 1000 nits.
The new brightness support technology is the Micro Lens Array screen, which is supported by the LG G3 and Panasonic’s flagship MZ2000 OLED. Micro Lens Array is said to increase brightness by 150%, suggesting somewhere in the region of 2000 nits for peak brightness, while also increasing the set’s average brightness.
This will help in several ways, firstly in creating an even better wide-angle viewing experience in terms of maintaining that high brightness, and secondly it will help make OLED screens more visible in brighter environments (currently OLED works best in dimly lit rooms). . Of course, this will come at a higher cost and will initially be available on the flagship models, but it’s an encouraging sign for the future.
DTS doesn’t lie down in its battle with Dolby
What feels like a long time ago I wrote about how Dolby’s dominance of the streaming market has marginalized DTS. Dolby’s shiny and efficient streaming codecs are the choice of many video streaming services, and that has had the domino effect of soundbars gravitating towards Dolby technology while ditching DTS.
However, things look like they are about to change. I attended a virtual briefing for LG’s TV and audio lineup towards the end of 2022, and the company mentioned support for DTS audio, specifically IMAX Enhanced Audio for its 2023 soundbars. It was intriguing since at that point no service had committed to offering IMAX Enhanced Audio.
Now LG is bringing DTS:X support to its 2023 TVs later this year, and according to Xperi, the company that owns the DTS brand, Disney+ is expected to bring DTS:X support to its streaming platform this year ; while the number of brands lined up to include IMAX Enhanced Audio includes Vestel, TCL, Sony and Hisense. All it takes are a few dominoes to fall for people to notice, and it looks like DTS is putting on its best “Let’s Go” face while lining up for a battle with Dolby.
There is a growing audience for wireless streaming turntables
CES and streaming turntables seem to mesh well. A few years ago, Cambridge Audio introduced the first wireless streaming turntable in the Alva TT (and if the memory is correct, the platform used the platform to announce the sequel in 2022). Victrola also used CES to announce its latest effort in space, the Carbon Onyx.
A sequel to 2022’s Carbon Stream and piggybacking on the vinyl revival that sparked strong interest in the format, this streaming wireless turntable offers convenience and simplicity. Turn it on, fiddle with the settings, connect to your speakers and you’re almost there.
Increasingly, I’m hearing from speaker brands that while traditional hi-fi remains their bread and butter, they’re trying to appeal to younger audiences who are unfamiliar with the trappings of hi-fi and find it a little too complex to navigate. There’s a growing number of people who want to simplify things, and things don’t get much easier than playing music straight from a smartphone to a speaker. The Carbon Onyx slides easily into that groove, as do speakers from Sonos and PSB, while the Bowers & Wilkins Formation series should benefit from wireless connectivity.
Indeed, whichever area of the TV and audio market you favor, expect the promise of wireless connectivity and in-home streaming to become a permanent offering.