#CES2014 Day Three: Two screens, rather than three or four, could be the future

The latest advances in smart TVs always grab headlines at CES. But as the Las Vegas show nears its end, Sarah Power, Initiative's chief startegy officer, North America, suggests that ever-smarter TVs might mean we return our (almost) undivided attention to the small screen.

LG's new webOS smart TV platform
LG's new webOS smart TV platform

Why, oh why, are we still talking about TVs?

Every time I walk the floor at CES, we always stop for the TVs. I do realise, of course, that this is CES – it’s about Consumer Electronics. And the big OEMs always make their technology statements, the TVs with the latest greatest innovations that inevitably cost close to $10,000, no matter the year.

For me the story here was how quickly Netflix jumped on the 4K bandwagon

But I’ve been thinking about whether this love affair with TV actually has traction with real consumers.

4K is all over the news. For me the story here was how quickly Netflix jumped on the 4K bandwagon – and in contrast, how quickly broadcasters tried to manage down expectations. That tells you a lot about how this experience plays out in context of content.

4K is a seriously lean back experience, which means a strong fit with streaming and immersive experiences of every kind. This follows and enhances an old trend, which is the latest spin on in-home theatre.

What interests me more is whether TVs can actually get smarter in the way that consumers expect? And by that, I mean to actually enable the "new" TV viewing experience of constant partial attention, engaging across all the "fun" multi-tasking that people save for that time of day?

I think the answer is yes, and it’s coming from some smart reverse engineering, porting multi-screen habits back into TV.

LG’s repurposing of webOS TV – rolled out on half of their TVs going forward, gives users a simple mobile-like TV shopping experience, with Smart TV apps and regular TV inputs all presented in one interface.

We’ve talked so long about the third, even fourth screen…but maybe, if TVs get smarter and smarter, we may just be talking two

The beauty of it is that it works as an overlay on what you’re currently watching, so you can plan your next move while not leaving your current programme.

That notion of providing an uninterrupted – yet multi-tasking – TV experience is shared by the Samsung Overlay, which allows viewers to stream live tweets on the screen at the same time they’re watching a show, making it ideal for sports or reality TV.

We’ve talked so long about the third, even fourth screen…but maybe, if TVs get smarter and smarter, we may just be talking two. Or three, if you count my Huawei Smart Ring.

 

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