TV SALES WARS HEAT UP

WHAT’S NEW IN TV

I was in Toronto this week checking out the newest TVs from Samsung, LG and Sony. There are no new cutting edge screen technologies this season, but small innovations and a big drive on design. So for this year, don’t expect dramatic improvements in TV picture quality. But new curves and looks, especially for top-tier models will make buying  a TV for its outside looks just as important as for its inside looks.

Samsung’s new colour bevel, a deep hint of rich red, around the frame adds a touch of class as does LG’s rear coloured panels. LG’s Frank Lee tried to make amends for all the big hoopla at the company’s recently much touted, but alas, fake launch of new products under the guise of an also fake upcoming show. All to basically show the same TVs but with newer sleeker outside looks, blended speakers and better auto brightness sensing. If LG wanted media attention, they got it. Disappointment? They got that too.

Lee showed LG’s top model that has a “scarlet red” derriere, meaning you can’t mount it on the wall if you want to show off this latest design innovation.

I must admit though, the smaller LG bedroom screens with the red touch looked appealing. Lee tried to smooth things over at a Toronto media showing of the newest models saying consumers need a break to catch up on current TV technology. I say, these companies are reaching the current tech limit, other than thinner TV models.

Speaking of which, there where no new OLED ultra –thin TVs shown anywhere. Most folks in the know, say it will be al least several years before the currently pricey OLED becomes mainstream. The exception off course, is Sony’s 11 inch screen, 3 mm thick XEL1, $2,499 available at select Sony shops. Its actual resolution is half that of the top 1080P that bigger screens have, leading some critics to say that much of the screen’s visual impression is owed to its size rather than OLED technology. I measured the brightness and I can tell you it is at least four times wider bright-to-dark than any LCD or plasma panel in the market.

NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY

The TV makers are rolling up their sleeves for a competitive season. It’s no secret the big brand names are buying up showroom space in big stores in Canada, but I had to chuckle when a Sony manager at the annual Toronto dealers show told me of the Sony Kill Switch. It’s a small remote control that Sony sales folks around the country use to reset Sony TVs to their default settings when visiting stores. Sony feels that their TVs are made to look bad either because of incompetent retail staff or deliberately, so competitive models can look more attractive.

And it’s not uncommon today to see, like I have, internal TV comparisons  between competitors models in big brand training sessions.

Let the games begin.

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