Now that the dust has settled following both last year's CEATEC show in Japan and the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we're finally in a position to see the lay of the land when it comes to TV technology in 2009. And actually, contrary to the rather negative reporting given to CES in particular, I'm really quite excited by what's in prospect. For while there might not be a whole lot of completely new, ‘blue sky' stuff in the 2009 pipeline, I feel extremely confident that the quality of our viewing experiences is going to make a huge leap in the right direction.
Probably the single most important technological reason for this is the expected explosion in the number of LCD TVs with LED backlights. As regular readers will know, I've been predicting since the end of 2007 - when I saw the first LED TV, Samsung's LE52F96 - that LED would eventually dominate the quality TV scene. And this has merely been reinforced by recent reviews of new LED models from Samsung, Philips and, especially, Sony.
So it's very gratifying indeed to find, for instance, Samsung showing off not just a couple of new LED TVs at the CES, but whole new ranges of LED equipped screens, incorporating both ‘proper' LED sets where the LED lighting arrays sit behind the screen, and edge-based LED technology that allows screens to be built much more thinly. The 6000, 7000 and 8000 LED ranges should be available from spring.
Sony, of course, can trump even that in terms of time frame, with its new three-TV-strong X4500 range hitting the UK as we speak, together with an edge-lit LED screen, the 40XL1, that claims to be the thinnest 40in TV ever.
Philips, too, has hinted to us that LED is going to be a big factor on its 2009 roadmap, with details of multiple new screens promised at its official European launch extravaganza next week. LG, too, used CES to unveil its first LED model, the 55in LH9500.
If all these LED TVs turn out to be as good as I think they might be we truly could find ourselves spoilt for choice by the end of the year.
With LED threatening plasma's traditional perch at the top of the AV picture quality tree, it's not surprising that the main plasma players are working very hard to keep one step ahead of their upstart rivals. Pioneer is at the vanguard of this activity, having recently shown off its new ‘Fuga' technology, designed to radically reduce the amount of detail lost through judder with low quality images. This comes on top, of course, of the latest round of contrast ratio increases Pioneer has managed with its groundbreaking KURO plasma technology.
One concern for the plasma camp, though, is whether Pioneer will actually still be in the TV market when Fuga and the latest KURO technology are ready to launch. Recent reports from Japan suggest that the Pioneer is poised to pull out of TV due to an inability to compete with its bigger rivals. Here's hoping these reports turn out to be nothing more than the latest round of ill-founded doom-mongering rumours.