Las Vegas-At CES Wednesday
morning, Korean consumer electronics giant LG showed off new applications for
its "connected TVs" that can hook up to a broadband connection to deliver a
range of Internet content and talked up the prospects for a line of new 3D
HD-capable TVs that it will start selling later this year.
As announced earlier this week, LG
has formed a partnership with Internet phone service Skype to integrate Skype's
technology into its LG sets and allow consumers to engage in video conferences
through the use of a specialized accessory camera. LG President and CTO Dr. Woo
Paik demonstrated the Skype service at the event, placing a brief call to a
Skype executive through an LG HDTV set. The call didn't last long, as there was
a significant audio delay due to what Paik described as a slow Internet
connection at the Venetian Hotel.
"We are very glad to have this
capability on LG TVs. Thank you very much and have a nice day," said Paik,
before hanging up and ending the call, to some chuckles from the crowd.
In addition to Skype, LG has
formed new content partnerships for its "NetCast" service with Internet video
provider Divx, Google's photo service Picasa and weather provider
AccuWeather.com. It demonstrated how its new connected TV will use local
weather information from AccuWeather to change the background picture on the TV
screen, changing from day to night and from sunny to cloudy depending on the
actual local conditions.
To address the challenge of
connecting these broadband-capable TVs to home networks, when they often are
located in a different room from an Ethernet jack, LG introduced two new
products, a wireless USB dongle and a wireless set-top box, that can be used to
connect the TV to a home network without wires. Paik said that the vast
majority of new LG TVs will have built-in wireless networking capability.
Of course, the big buzz heading
into CES has been over new 3D HD sets, and that has only been amplified by
yesterday's announcements from ESPN and Discovery that they will launch new 3D
cable networks. LG marketing chief Tim Alessi predicted that "2010 will really
be the launch pad for 3D" and said that in addition to new 3D-capable
9500-series sets, LG will also launch a 3D Blu-ray player later this year.
LG will use active-shutter glass
technology with the new sets, which is generally seen as being more expensive
than passive glasses, but hasn't formalized plans of how it will sell
active-shutter glasses to consumers.
"A lot of details still have to be
worked out," said Alessi.
Alessi wouldn't discuss pricing
for the 3D sets, which are due out in April, but said that 3D would probably
only represent a $300-$400 premium in a feature-packed high-end set.
Other new TV products from LG
include an ultra-thin, splash-resistant 15-inch OLED (organic light emitting
diode) display, a 6.9-mm-thick LCD set, and a network attached storage (NAS)
hard-drive device with a built-in Blu-ray recorder that can be used to archive
a consumer's photos and videos.
Paik also highlighted LG's role in
developing the new mobile DTV standard that will let broadcasters transmit to
cellphones and other portable devices, and briefly demonstrated LG's new
portable mobile DTV with built-in DVD player, which was unveiled last week and
will cost $249. He said that over 100 stations, covering 45% of the country,
should be transmitting mobile DTV by the end of 2010.