Ground zero for new TVs is CES 2020 in Las Vegas. It has scads of gadgets from PCs to phones to smart doorbells to robots, but TVs always steal the show. No matter how big and gaudy those new screens look, however, the technology behind them will probably be pretty familiar to today's TV shoppers. Televisions are a mature technology, and it's usually a bad idea to wait for something new to come along.
That won't stop TV makers from trying to overwhelm you with newfangled buzzwords in their eternal attempt to sell you a new one anyway. Prepare for more 4K, 8K, HDMI 2.1, HDR, 120Hz, OLED, QLED, ULED and ZLED than you can handle (I made the last one up, but it's probably coming soon, too). Don't expect to see any talk of pricing, however, and as for real-world performance — that'll have to wait for the reviews.
As usual, I'll be there ingesting the hype and spitting it out to you with a grain or two of realism, and lots of pretty pictures. Here's a sneak peek leavened with insights from Stephen Baker, vice president of Industry Analysis at NPD Group, a market research firm.
8K will get cheaper, but remain expensive
In 2019 8K televisions hit the market from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG, but they remain ridiculously expensive (the cheapest, a 65-inch Samsung, is $3,500). In 2020, numerous manufacturers will introduce more 8K TVs and it's safe to assume they'll reach new pricing lows.
The market share of 8K TVs in 2019 was "too small to report," Baker says. "On a unit basis we don't expect 8K to exceed 1% of volume until 2022." He goes on: "8K will migrate down in price but it will face a stiffer challenge than 4K, for example, as the price points and the market for very large TVs are now highly established and very price competitive."
OLED: Will there be another?
I don't think 8K TVs are worth buying, but OLED TVs are another story. They're my favorite high-end models and reached new pricing lows during Black Friday this year. Baker says those price drops helped contribute to a 20% year-over-year increase in sales of OLED TVs this year.
In 2020 we could finally see another TV maker (ahem, Vizio) join LG and Sony in selling OLED TVs in the U.S. We may also find out about Samsung's entry into the OLED market. And if nothing else, I expect LG's B10 OLED TV to be one of my favorite high-end models again next year.
Bigger TVs will continue to, um, grow
As I mentioned above TVs are a mature technology but that doesn't stop big screens, think 75 inches, from remaining remarkably popular. According to Baker:
The biggest trend is the remarkable growth we have seen in a mature TV market, one where we know consumers are reducing the number of TVs in their home. The average age of TVs in the home is declining while the average screen size is increasing. The decline in pricing, and the jump in quality especially at the largest screen sizes, has pushed a significant amount of consumers to buy a new TV.
And so will TCL and other China-based brands
TCL is a force and shows no signs of slowing down. In 2019 it moved into the No. 2 brand position in number of units sold, according to NPD. Here's the chart.
2019 market share (units sold)
- Samsung: 21%
- TCL: 15%
- Vizio: 14%
- LG: 10%
- Hisense: 5%
If you're looking for Sony it's still around, but primarily in more-expensive TVs. Among TVs over $1,000 Samsung dominates with 51% of the market, followed by LG (23%) and Sony (22%).
"Both TCL and HiSense have seen strong unit growth in 2019. Between those two they have picked up four points of unit share," says Baker.
ATSC 3.0, HDMI 2.1 and more
That's it for the biggest trends I expect. Here's some smaller bullets to chew on.
- This year we'll see at least one TV maker, LG, release TVs equipped with next-generation ATSC 3.0 over-the-air tuners. More could follow.
- More TVs will ship with HDMI 2.1 features, in particular gaming-friendly extras like auto game mode and variable refresh rate.
- The next wave of Alexa and Google voice control will be always-on, always-listening options. Sony TVs listen for "OK, Google" already and you can say "Alexa" to Fire TVs in Europe, so it's just a matter of time before more TVs get on board.
- Most of the headlines, including mine, will be devoted to crazy next-generation stuff nobody will be able to afford, like rollable OLED and MicroLED and dual LCD and 98-inch monstrosities. Apologies in advance.
As usual, one prediction I know will come true: I'll be at the show along with a bunch of CNET colleagues, working to bring it all to you live.
Looking for something in particular? Let me know on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on CNET.