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CES Feature Articles

January 10, 2012

Meet the Next Big Supercomputer: Your TV

Just like last year, TV manufacturers are making all the noise at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. For their sake, let's hope all the talk translates into more sales than it did a year ago.

South Korean electronics giants LG and Samsung (News - Alert) each unveiled a few similar offerings on the eve of this year's show, including a new line of high-end smart televisions built with microphones and speech recognition software.

From initial impressions, it looks like LG has added some speech-to-text functionality for TVs with access to search engines and apps like Twitter and Facebook (News - Alert), according to the AP. The speech recognition software won't act as a replacement for your remote control, however, so LG users are still stuck changing channels on their own.

Samsung's models, meanwhile, seem a bit more advanced. TV owners can use voice commands to search, open up Web apps and even turn the TV on and off. A number of soon-to-be-launched Samsung TVs will also come equipped with a built-in camera and faster processors, further blurring the line between televisions and computing devices.

Models that are equipped with cameras will include motion control software, enabling users to browse and control Web content with just a flick of their wrist. The TVs even come loaded with face recognition technology capable of identifying each member of the family and loading personalized content accordingly.

The head of Samsung's TV business, Boo-Keun Yoon, told the Wall Street Journal that the voice activated TVs will retail at between $300 and $500 more than comparable HDTVs. The televisions are expected to make their debut at some point in the first quarter.

Both Samsung and LG are also using CES (News - Alert) as a venue to show off new TVs that rely on organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology, which actually made its first appearance back in 2008 with Sony but was dropped due to price concerns.  

OLED TVs are thinner, brighter and faster than traditional LCD models, but they are also expected to be much more expensive. Many have questioned whether OLED TVs will make a mainstream impact.

The unveiling comes just a few days after both Samsung and LG committed to the Google (News - Alert) Internet-TV coalition, meaning they will each market televisions that rely on Google TV software, an offering that has yet to make a splash in the consumer market.

However, Google is said to have rededicated itself to its Internet TV product and has made a number of enhancements, including a simplified interface, improved search capabilities and, most importantly, more content.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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