By Marc Chacksfield
Day one of CES is a notorious Groundhog Day of press conferences, a trudge round identikit auditoria to watch brands trying to big-up very similar products in very similar ways, starting at 8am and finishing when the sun finally decides to set over Sin City.
For some, though, it's the biggest day in the tech calendar – Apple fans aside – as it showcases just what Next Big Thing technological wares will be hitting shop floors some time in 2015 from those three huge titans of every type of consumer tech going: Sony, Samsung and LG.
Well, we've been out there, trying to keep up, and these are the five things we appear to have learned from our first day in the CES pit…
1.) All Operating Systems Are Go!
Soon "Smart TVs" won’t be called "Smart TVs", reckons Samsung’s Wonjin Lee, because eventually all televisions will connect to the internet. But that will be where the telly similarities end if the world’s biggest tech firms have anything to do with it as they've all backed different operating systems to power said connected sets and are growling at each menacingly. It’s the tech equivalent of Game of Thrones but with fewer boobs and overlong passages about the food Tyrion has scoffed for lunch.
Samsung has gone with Tizen because it’s backbone is the web itself – apparently. LG is sticking with WebOS, but has made it that bit faster and slapped a "2.0" on the end. Panasonic, meanwhile, has bet big on Firefox OS, which is a bloody massive gamble – but then this is Vegas after all. Sony, in the face of all this risk, has decided to cuddle up to the behemoth that is Google and put Android on its sets.
What does this all actually mean for the average TV buyer? Well, TVs will be a bit smarter – but do most people really care as long as their set's got quick access to Netflix and iPlayer?
2.) Black Is Back
When it comes to your TV picture quality you should always bet black, reckons LG. That's right: Wesley Snipes’ mantra in Passenger 57 has been half-inched by the Korean company to explain the virtues of OLED TVs and their ability to offer the best rendition of black available. Hmm.
When it comes to shiny new TVs, though, LG is still adamant that OLEDs are the future and that it can eventually get those humungous prices down. Many are skeptical, including big local rivals Samsung, which has seemingly given up on that tech altogether and created its own super-duper TV tech called SUHDTV. Catchy.
The S stands for… well… it actually stands for NINE things beginning with S, including: Super, Stylish, Sultry, Sunburn, Sleazy, Sony... OK, I may have made a few of those up. The main thing is this is Samsung putting Quantum Dot technology to use, without actually muttering the words "Quantum Dot".
3.) Baby Got The Bends
LG and Samsung just can't get enough of bending things. Both companies are still flexing their tellies – the curve offers up a better viewing experience apparently – while LG has updated its LG G Flex phone range and called it – wait for it – the LG G Flex 2. That's innovation, that is. This is a phone with a curved screen that is meant to fit your face better; a Face Hugger with a SIM card slot, if you will.
This time around, though, the screen is a far more manageable 5.5 inches and it also comes equipped with a mutant healing power: the back can rid itself from minor scratches in just 10 seconds like Wolverine.
4.) Ultra HD Avengers Assemble!
Speaking of superheroes, there's some serious Avengers-style supergroups a-happening in tech right now. To make sure the quality of both the content and the TV builds are up to scratch, a bunch of companies have announced they will act as quality arbitrators under the Marvel-like guise of the UHD Alliance, with the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, Netflix and Sharp all getting together in an underground lair to discuss 4K standards and guidelines.
While LG (above) is not part of the deal – it seems to be the Spider-Man of the group – it is still working closely with Netflix to make sure its TVs are of a standard to showcase the HDR – high dynamic range – streams that Netflix will be offering later this year. With this year's press conferences showing that Ultra HD certainly seems the future of home entertainment, too, we're ready for some pretty special colour definitions heading our way soon.
5 Watch This Space!
Out of the big press conferences, only Sony offered up a new wearable of any description: a bling stainless-steal update to its SmartWatch portfolio. Is that doubts we can smell creeping in for this most exciting of new markets, or just scared off by Apple's impending hand reveal, guys? Either way, it meant it was down to the smaller companies to keep proving to the world that wearables will be big, honest!
Misfit has teamed up with Swarovski for some reason (above); to stop people buying their products, we can only guess. Withings is still tracking people’s activity with the new, er, Activite Pop, while Alacatel launched a smartwatch for those who don’t have much cash. We expect there to be a truckload more wearables when CES actually opens up its show doors, too.
Oh, and five other things we noticed while traversing halls of the Mandalay Bay…
- Samsung rented a whole room out just so people could queue in it while waiting for its press conference. Like a boss.
- LG has made the same joke five years in a row about its press conference being so early it’s on at a time when most people in Vegas go to bed. Literal yawn.
- Tech journalists that aren’t from the UK bloody love a selfie stick.
- Media corruption check: the queue for a free lunch was bigger than the queue to get into Bosch’s press conference.
- If you try and pull the plug out of the wall that's next to, and powers, CNET’s private press room, they will shout at you.