TV wars at world's biggest consumer electronics show

Mr Dave Das, senior vice-president of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics America, giving a presentation of his company's new range of TV units, which will have a dedicated iTunes app. With the trend towards bigger TVs, Samsung and LG have un
Mr Dave Das, senior vice-president of consumer electronics at Samsung Electronics America, giving a presentation of his company's new range of TV units, which will have a dedicated iTunes app. With the trend towards bigger TVs, Samsung and LG have unveiled 8K TVs with sizes up to 88 inches and 98 inches, respectively.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Apple allows users to play videos on Samsung, LG TVs, without its TV-streaming console

CES, the world's largest consumer electronics trade show, has always been a battleground for TV makers ready to dazzle with their latest wizardry. This year is no exception.

Even before CES 2019 opens on Tuesday US time, Korean big brands Samsung and LG have already shown off their magic - Samsung with a "modular" 75-inch TV that can be taken apart or put together to form different sizes, and LG with a TV that can roll up or down.

But the most interesting development is Apple allowing Samsung and LG TVs to "natively support" its AirPlay 2, which means iPhone or iPad users can easily play videos from iTunes or other video apps on these TVs without an Apple TV-streaming console.

Furthermore, Samsung's 2018 and 2019 range of TVs will have a dedicated iTunes app that allows access to one's iTunes movie and TV show library. This is the first time Apple has allowed the iTunes app to be on third-party devices, apart from Windows machines.

"The inclusion of a native iTunes app on Samsung Smart TVs is a huge deal, unlocking access to iTunes content on millions of devices," said Mr Paul Gagnon, research firm IHS Markit's director of technology analysis and research.

It represents a massive shift in Apple's "walled garden" approach to content and ecosystems, he added.

On Sunday, the organiser of CES 2019, which runs till Jan 11, predicted that there would be fewer TV units sold in the United States this year.

The most interesting development is Apple allowing Samsung and LG TVs to "natively support" its AirPlay 2, which means iPhone or iPad users can easily play videos from iTunes or other video apps to these TVs without an Apple TV-streaming console.

CES organiser Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said there would be 42 million TV units sold in the US this year, a 1 per cent decline from last year.

But future upgrades will be driven by 4K TVs, with a 14 per cent increase in US sales this year, compared to 2018, as well as the latest 8K TVs, said the association.

"Consumers are moving upwards in terms of TV screen size," said Mr Ben Arnold, CTA's senior director of innovation and trends, during a presentation on Sunday.

But with 8K TVs having sizes of 65 inches and larger, Mr Arnold predicted that 8K TVs will make up the majority of large-screen TVs sold.

This is because of the "nature of premium customers buying it at the higher price point and the appeal of the visual experience", he added.

Both Samsung and LG have unveiled 8K TVs with sizes up to 88 inches and 98 inches respectively.

Meanwhile, Japan's Sony also launched its first 8K LCD TVs with the Bravia Master Series Z9G, which will be available in 85 inches and 95 inches.

 

This series is one of the newly launched Sony Android TV models which are also compatible with Apple AirPlay 2.

Samsung's new modular product, the 75-inch 4K microLED TV, is still in the prototype stage, while LG's Signature Oled TV R, its rollable TV, will go on sale sometime this year, though its pricing is not confirmed.

The LG Signature Oled TV R has a big sound bar that doubles as a stand for the rolling TV to appear and disappear. When in Full View mode, it becomes a 65-inch 4K Oled TV.

It also has a Line View mode that displays modes like clock or music, while a Zero view mode has the entire TV retracted and becomes a full-blown 100W front-firing Dolby Atmos audio system.

"The rollable Oled TV is certainly a very fascinating product in the ultra-Premium space, like the wallpaper Oled that LG launched a few CES ago. But at the upper end of available price points, it will sell relatively few sets," said Mr Gagnon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2019, with the headline 'TV wars at world's biggest consumer electronics show'. Print Edition | Subscribe