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Your 2024 CES smart TV cheat sheet

TVs are see-through now

Welcome to Lowpass! This week: TV trends at CES 2024, and Apple’s Vision Pro is coming.

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Your 2024 CES smart TV cheat sheet

CES used to be all about big TVs. Every year, television manufacturers would show off new TV sets that were bigger, brighter and supposedly better than last year’s models. That’s still true in 2023, to a degree – TCL just introduced a 115-inch TV – but there’s also been some movement in the opposite direction for the past few years.

Taken aback by audiences that seem perfectly fine watching full movies on their phone screens, TV makers have been increasingly looking to make that big living-room TV less obnoxious. Less of a big black hole when it is turned off, and perhaps even less of a disruption when it is on, but nothing is playing.

For years, TV makers have tried to find ways to effectively make the TV disappear, either by physically hiding it, or by making it blend in with its surroundings. That trend is also on full display at CES 2024 in Las Vegas this week, alongside other interesting updates to the smart TV ecosystem. Here’s a summary of a few things that stood out to me:

TVs are disappearing. Knowing that bigger, brighter, louder doesn’t work for every customer, TV makers have tried a variety of things to hide TVs in plain sight over the past few years. Remember LG’s rollable TV?

  • This year’s version of this trend are transparent TVs. LG is showing off a 77-inch transparent TV in Vegas this week, while Samsung is showcasing transparent Microled displays, but stopping short of announcing any products incorporating the technology.

  • LG’s transparent TV does look interesting in person, and it does make you rethink what it means to put a TV in your living room. Do you need to rethink your cable management? Do you want to put art behind your TV? Or would you even, as one LG employee suggested to me, put the TV in front of a window so you can look outside when it’s off?

  • However, at least for now, these TVs fall more into the highly-engineered status symbol category – something you might buy if you previously spent thousands of dollars on a curved TV, only to grow tired of the unnecessary effect soon after.

  • For me, the real story in this space is the enduring success of Samsung’s The Frame. First introduced in 2017, Samsung sold over one million The Frame TVs in 2021. This year, the company is not only releasing more energy-efficient versions, but also adding a dedicated Music Frame speaker that can be paid with Samsung TVs for surround sound.

  • Further proof that The Frame is working for Samsung: Hisense is releasing a copycat model dubbed the Canvas TV.

Casting is getting another look. Ten years after Google released its very first Chromecast device, casting is still a thing – and, increasingly, a moat for the Android maker. 

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