A reporter's view from the CES show:
The most beautiful sets at CES are OLEDs: Organic Light Emitting Diodes. They have much higher contrast than current LED sets; light can be turned off on a per pixel basis. Dark scenes offer the blackest of blacks rich deep colors without the blooming of light that affects other LCD and LED TVs.
OLEDs are super thin: 3/16ths of an inch. Some are so thin that the power ports and connectors need to be housed in the stands, not on the set itself. OLEDs use half the power of current HDTVs and some sets will consume less energy than a 50-watt bulb. And finally the dreaded motion blur of LED and LCDs (when sports and fast action appear blocky) almost completely disappears with OLEDs.
I've seen small 12 and 20-inch prototype OLEDs in past years at CES, but never a true big screen option that is in production and planned for release. This year is different: LG has a 55-inch OLED on display, and Samsung is rumored to have another OLED debuting this week. The prices on these sets will be ridiculous $8,000-10,000 but predictions from analysts say that by the end of 2013, they'll be more like $4000. Availability is still a little unclear, although rumors of late 2012 offerings are in the air.
4K and 8K Resolution
Another trend at CES: higher resolution TVs than ever. 4K and 8K respectively double and quadruple the resolution of the highest high definition sets on the market. Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, and most other TV manufacturers are going for this crisper, more vivid resolution as an incentive to get consumers to trade in their old TV sets. But this technology is still a ways from every day reality, and CES may prove a litmus test on whether attendees think the 4K sets are that much more visually compelling. An even greater inhibitor to widespread 4K/8K TVs any time soon is that they will mandate all new source video and new cameras and infrastructure from TV networks and production companies. Today, very little content is produced at such high resolution.
3D Is Dead Long Live 3D!
In the early press releases from manufacturers, there has been very little mention of 3D. It seems they now understand that most consumers aren't willing to pay much more for a TV with 3D. It's being seen as less of a feature, more of a gimmick. That being said, there is early buzz around Toshiba, who is saying that they will have a glasses-free, big-screen 3DTV available for sale within the year, according to CNET news. This is a big departure from other manufacturers like Samsung, which has managed expectations, saying they don't expect to have glasses-free technology ready for market within 10 years.