Plus plenty of promising TVs you can actually afford.

The rollable OLED can disappear inside inside its stand.

Sarah Tew/CNET

CES is a show first and foremost, meaning it’s not necessarily the best place to get a real sense of the actual televisions people are going to buy this year.

Instead, it’s the place where manufacturers try to outdo each other with extreme displays that draw oohs and ahhs from attendees and fawning headlines from journalists. The TVs shown at CES 2019 were bigger and more innovative than ever, but the most notable are likely to be expensive.

Roll-up OLED is real, and it will hurt your bankroll

My favorite TV at the show, hands down, was the modestly sized 65-inch rollable OLED from LG. Seeing it in action, disappearing into its stand and reappearing to create a high-performance TV, is the stuff of CES legends.

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David Katzmaier


5 roll-up OLED TVs at LG’s booth. Mesmerizing.

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I also like the roll-up TV because it’s practical. A screen that can disappear when not in use frees up wall space and improves room decor by hiding a large black rectangle that’s otherwise kind of an eyesore when turned off. If your family wants to limit screen time, it’s nice to have that looming temptation simply go away during off hours.

The 2019 version will cost a bundle — LG hasn’t hinted at a price but my guess is at least $10,000, roughly four times the cost of a standard 65-inch OLED — but in the next few years it could come down fast if LG wants to gain yet another advantage over competing, stiff and flat LCD-based TVs.

Sony’s 85-inch and 98-inch 8K TVs are huge and sure to cost five figures.

Sarah Tew/CNET

8K TVs: Strictly for profligate wastrels in 2019

2019 is the year of 8K. Here’s the major 8K resolution TVs announced at the show and shipping in 2019:

Pricing was not announced for any of these TVs, but they’ll all be expensive. The cheapest 8K TV right now is the smallest, Samsung’s 65-inch model for the UK and Europe, which costs £4,999 (about $6,300 or AU$8,880). I bet the US version costs at least $5,000.

Bigger 8K sets are even more ridiculously expensive. Samsung’s current 85-inch model is $15,000 and I’d be surprised if that price fell much in 2019. As for 98-inch sets? The closest real-world equivalent is Sony’s 100-inch Z9D 4K TV, which cost $60,000 when it came out in 2016. That price sounds about right for the 98-inch 8K models.

Beyond price, there’s the fact that 8K content is nonexistent and the improvements in image quality over 4K look to be slight, at best — hey, at least LG, Sony and Samsung confirmed 48 Gbps HDMI 2.1. This year, 8K is a plaything of the frivolous rich.

The good news? Better picture quality, more competition

So what about the TVs mere mortals can afford, you ask? There was plenty of promising info about those too.

Vizio‘s full lineup looks better than ever. Vizio has lost share to TCL over the last couple of years, and it’s fighting back in 2019 with a strong-looking lineupLocal dimming everywhere, of course, but also quantum dots in the mainstream M-Series, more dimming zones and, in the flagship P-Series Quantum X series, enough brightness to match the Sonys and Samsungs of the world.

TCL gets bigger. The biggest Chinese TV brand in the US added a 75-inch size for an aggressive $1,800 to the CNET Editors’ Choice 6 series. On the other hand TCL didn’t announce any specific new models for 2019 — saving that info, like Samsung, for spring.

Hisense does cheaper local dimming Roku TV. The China-based TV unleashed its own slew of sets complete with pricing, and the most promising looks like the R8 series. It has a healthy 64 zones of dimming on the 65-inch size, wide color gamut, 700 nits of brightness and Dolby Vision, all for less than the TCL 6 series. Shipping “later in 2019” the 55-inch size costs $600, while the 65 is an aggressive $750.

More local dimming everywhere. With the advent of HDR my favorite LCD TV tech enhancement, full-array local dimming, is appearing in more and more TVs. All three of the budget brands above are selling FALD TVs, Sony introduced yet another in the promising X950G series, and Samsung said it would have more FALD models than ever in 2019. That means more competition in the mid-priced picture-quality-for-the-buck race, always my favorite part of the TV market.

Soon your iPhone will play nice with Vizio, LG and Sony TVs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Mr. Smart TV goes to Cupertino

In the biggest surprise of the show, basically every big TV company announced that its sets would work with Apple in some way. Samsung seems like the biggest winner — its 2018 and 2019 TVs are the only one that get actual on-screen version of the iTunes Movies and TV app. But Sony, LG and Vizio get to play nice with Apple devices too. All three (along with Samsung) can work with the AirPlay 2 system, which uses iPhonesiPads or Mac computers to control video, music and photo playback on the TV. We got the full demo in Vizio’s booth.

That’s it for the major TV news out of CES 2019. In closing, here’s a little something to remind you that TV technology can still amaze: LG’s OLED waterfall in 360 video (courtesy of Geoffrey Morrison) and still images. Enjoy.


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