Source Code at CES: Screens everywhere
Hey there! Welcome to the first of our special afternoon edition of Source Code at CES, which we'll be sending out for the next few days. Today, a look at some of the most interesting gadgets coming out this year, and how a very strange 2020 changed those gadgets forever.
Also, we're doing a live CES roundtable event with some Protocol reporters and some fun guests, on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT. Register now and come hang with us!
There's a lot going on in the world — and at CES — this year, but this is definitely still a TV show. The first day of CES was full of the same standards wars, hilariously nonsensical features, and totally unaffordable new sets as ever.
The long-term trend here is TVs changing from "large black rectangles in your living room" to screens seamlessly integrated all around your life.
Foldable screens, rollable screens, unbreakable screens, screens you put together like puzzle pieces, screens that go on your face: The only way to turn the whole world into displays is to create screens that can do anything, and that's what the industry is trying to do.
The big year for big TVs was a good one for Sony. And heading into 2021, Sony president and COO Mike Fasulo said he sees more to come. Sony's building Google TV-powered smart TVs, all kinds of new technology with unparseable acronyms and new tech to automatically optimize pictures. It's all a nice win for movie watchers, but Fasulo told me there's a bigger trend in play, too.
Sony's also adding more stuff to its TVs, from Google TV to Alexa to AirPlay to apps. Most smart TVs, I asked, end up old and out of date — wouldn't people rather just buy a Roku? He said no, that the TV is actually an important place for software. It's almost like the new family computer, in the middle of the house. "It is really much more than a viewing device," he said. Even though he quickly followed up with, "although that is its primary purpose."
Fasulo said something I've heard a lot so far this CES: A lot of Sony's products are only early attempts to respond to the way the post-pandemic world works, many of which were already on the roadmap and have just been moved up. The biggest changes are yet to come, as TV manufacturers race to give people what they need during a pandemic. "The relevance is so high right now," Fasulo said, "because you're at home."
For Raj Hazra, who is senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications at Micron, there has never been a more thrilling time than this golden age of data. In this interview, Hazra describes how "we are now at the doorstep of taking things that we thought were science fiction and making them real, and it's only going to be exponentially faster going forward". Read more from Micron's Raj Hazra.
Personalization is the thing right now, as everything becomes customizable to each user's unique taste. But while I get the idea behind Samsung's millennial-aimed lineup of refrigerators with customizable sizes, materials and colors, I can't get past the phrase "bespoke fridges." I'll stick with my ancient, leaky Kenmore, thanks.
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.