Sorry hunny, I’m instant messaging our washing machine: CES highlights from Monday
Published Monday, January 6, 2014 3:54PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 6, 2014 4:12PM EST
LAS VEGAS – Appliances that talk to you and the return of webOS highlighted LG’s offerings at CES on Monday.
The Palm brand behind webOS might be a distant memory, but LG has brought the intuitive mobile operating system webOS to the big screen in its latest smart TVs.
The new smart TV platform features what appears to be a simple way to interact with television sets.
LG CTO Scott Ahn told reporters Monday that most consumers think smart TVs are too complicated, and the hope is that webOS on TV will make watching content on the big screen simple again.
With a user interface that seems like a hybrid between a Nintendo Wii and an Xbox One but as simple as a light switch, people guide a playful pointer icon (BeanBird) to select what it is they want to watch, from whatever source it’s available on.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was also on hand to announce that the company will offer 4K streams of select shows, such as House of Cards.
Next-generation 4K TVs, such as the latest from LG, will be able to play back such content from the video streaming service.
Reporters got a chance to see the LG G Flex, a curved phone, for the first time in North America. (It was unveiled late last year in South Korea).
The 6-inch curved OLED screen is designed to offer a more cinematic experience when watching video, LG says.
The company also had to design a curved battery to fit in such a device, while improving the amount of charge it can hold.
“Innovation for innovation's sake doesn't work with consumers. We're looking for products that offer tangible benefits,” says Frank Lee, head of LG’s mobile phone unit.
What are the other benefits to having a curved phone? After spending a few minutes with the handset, it did actually feel more comfortable to hold, slip in my pocket, and hold up to your head.
Meanwhile, LG is launching a platform designed to let all your home appliances talk to each other – and people that use them.
LG HomeChat will let users message their appliances to find out how they’re doing, such as asking the clothes dryer: “How long until you’re done?”
Likewise, the appliances will be able to message users, informing them of completed actions or just to wish them a nice vacation.
Panasonic sets sights on cars
Sure, the company still makes TVs and typical home electronics, but Panasonic spent considerable time talking up its work with automakers.
Indeed, Panasonic North America CEO Joe Taylor said Panasonic is moving beyond TVs to automotive innovations.
“Automotive is the largest and fastest growing segment in North America” for Panasonic, Taylor said Monday.
For example, the company is making smaller heads-up displays that are designed to distract drivers less, and it says it will supply electric automaker Tesla with millions of lithium ion battery cells for the next two years.
Sharp TV bridges gap to 4K
Sharp, meanwhile, unveiled a full HD TV that attempts to look as ‘sharp’ as a 4K TV, but not cost 4K money.
The Aquos Quattron+ TV lineup with Revelation Technology can upscale normal HD video and take advantage of Sharp’s subpixel technology to display images that appear better than what you’d see from a typical HD TV set.
It’ll also be able to play back 4K content in a downscaled manner, theoretically future-proofing yourself from the next generation of display technology.
While pricing hasn’t been announced, expect these TVs to cost more than HD sets, but less than pricey 4K TVs.