FlatpanelsHD will be at CES 2020 in Las Vegas where major brands unveil their latest TVs and technologies. Here's what we know, what we think we know, and what we hope for.
8K and 4K TVs
4K TVs will continue to dominate in 2020 and analysts expect 8K TVs to make up less than 1% of unit sales. Still, major brands will increasingly push 8K as their premium TVs, complete with their most advanced display technology and picture engines.
Sony's model numbers for 2020 have leaked. Amongst them is the Z8H (ZH8) range in 75 and 85 inches, which could be a more affordable range of 8K TVs. The leak also reveals new A9H (AH9) and A8H (AH8) OLED models.
Samsung already offers a line-up of 8K TVs and we expect the Korean powerhouse to widen its portfolio next year as it prepares to introduce OLED TVs from 2021 and microLED TVs gradually over the coming years. We also expect LG to widen its line-up of 8K OLED TVs and introduce more 8K LCD TVs. TCL has already said that it will incorporate miniLED backlighting technology into 8K LCD TVs.
Panasonic had originally planned to unveil its first 8K TV at IFA 2019 in September, but it decided to postpone the announcement - most likely to CES 2020. The 'MegaCon' prototype that Panasonic unveiled at IFA may be on display again at CES 2020, but it is unlikely to hit the TV market as Panasonic has announced that it will end production of LCD panels by 2021.
Vizio is expected to launch its first OLED TVs at CES 2020 and some Chinese TV brands may follow suit. OLED TVs will gradually take over in the coming years as investment in LCD TVs dry up. Philips will not announce its 2020 line-up at CES 2020.
As OLED enters the mainstream, great HDR picture quality will reach far more viewers (and OLED will come in a smaller size next year). We expect to once again see LG's delayed rollable OLED TV along with some new prototypes from LG Display. Other brands will continue to showcase huge microLED TVs but we do not expect them to become affordable or even approachable next year.
What about 4K TVs? After HDMI 2.1 being exclusive to LG in 2019, we expect many 2020 high-end 4K TVs to feature HDMI 2.1 ports along with HDMI 2.1 gaming features such as HDMI VRR (variable refresh rate) - plus various other flavors of VRR - as well as ALLM (auto low latency mode). Will we see the first 4K TVs with official support for HDMI QMS, too? We hope so.
And 8K content? At this point, it's what the 8K TV market needs but even if a content provider takes the stage at CES 2020 to announce plans to make 8K content available on the consumer market, it will take several years for 8K content to emerge in earnest. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will not change the situation as it is just a technology showcase for 8K, with very little relevance to viewers at this time. An 8K Blu-ray format is unlikely and 2020 will instead mark the beginning of the next phase of streaming as Apple, Disney, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia and others enter the sector - with 4K HDR content.
Smart TV, Android TV
Samsung is making its Tizen operating system available to other TV makers and we could see its first partners announced at CES 2020.
Roku and Amazon may have had luck in signing up more TV brands as partners but as the Smart TV market is maturing, most TV makers have already placed their bets. However, we hear that Panasonic will introduce its first Android TVs. Google's Android TV operating system will not be featured in Panasonic's full 2020 line-up and it may not even show up at CES, but this could be the first step away from the beleaguered Firefox OS (MyHomeScreen).
And what about Apple? Last year, Apple stole the show by partnering with top TV makers to bring AirPlay 2, HomeKit, and the Apple TV app to select TVs. We could see more partners announced at CES 2020.
Other new developments
Filmmaker Mode was announced just before IFA 2019 but the official launch will be at CES 2020 where TV makers will announce the first TVs to come equipped with the new picture mode.
There will be new Dolby Atmos soundbars and other TV audio systems announced, including many more with HDMI eARC that will be an important feature to have in a TV and TV audio system next year if you are planning to take full advantage of the next-generation game consoles. That's because current receivers and soundbars lack passthrough for HDMI 2.1 bandwidth as well as optional HDMI 2.1 features.
We also hear that the results of the partnership between Sony and Microsoft to improve the HDR gaming experience could be announced at CES 2020. Look out for "HGIG" (HDR Gaming Interest Group).
Will we see the first TVs with AV1 decoding announced at CES 2020? We think so. AV1 is the new video format developed, or backed, by Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Samsung and others.
Will Sony or Microsoft showcase the next generation PlayStation and Xbox consoles at CES 2020? Unlikely, we would say. But they may release or tease a few additional details - especially Sony.