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CES Tuesday Roundup: Big TVs, big phones and a transparent TV

January 08, 2013|By Los Angeles Times staff

LAS VEGAS -- Walking around the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday, nothing stood out quite as much as watching a woman stick her hand behind a TV and then seeing her hand through the set's transparent screen.

No, it wasn't a magic trick. The Hisense employee was showing off the company's see-through 3-D concept, which is a very thin TV with a transparent display. Many walking by the unusual TV made double takes as they couldn't quite figure out what they were seeing.

The transparent TV sits about a foot away from a wall with a bright light behind it, which is necessary in order to see the images that appear on the set's display.

FULL COVERAGE: CES 2013

In between the transparent screen and the light was an open space where Hisense had placed a small model of a village to demonstrate the TV's transparent capabilities.

For now, there are no plans to bring this to the U.S., but the transparent TV will soon go into commercial use in China: Think a high-tech, souped-up display case.

-- Salvador Rodriguez

Is that a boombox? No, it's a smartphone| 3:10 p.m.

That's not a tablet you see tech executives holding up to their heads. It's just their new, hip smartphones.

If there's one thing that's become quite clear at CES it's that 5-inch-plus phones are no longer strange. In fact, they're the norm here as more phone makers roll out oversized devices.

Just a year ago, a smartphone with a 4-inch screen was a big deal.

Now, companies including Samsung, LG and Lenovo are adding 5-inch screen devices every time they have a new announcement.

On Monday, for example, Sony announced that its new flagship phone for 2013, the Xperia Z, would also have a 5-inch display. The Xperia Z will also have another feature that's becoming a trend among jumbo-sized phones: a full 1080p HD resolution.

For reference, that's the type of display that was originally intended for 40-inch televisions. But that hasn't stopped phone manufacturers, such as HTC with the Droid DNA and Vizio with a device it's making for China.

And because 5-inch phones are starting to become common, some companies have begun to push the boundaries with even larger displays. Samsung last year announced the Galaxy Note II with a 5.5-inch display, and this week Huawei announced the mammoth 6.1-inch Ascend Mate. 

I personally am not a fan of holding a brick up to my face and talking to it, but there's no stopping this train now.

-- Salvador Rodriguez

Samsung unveils world's first curved OLED TV| 2:20 p.m.

Samsung is showing off the world's first curved, super-thin OLED TV at the CES exhibition center.

From afar, the TV looked like any other set that might be on display at a tech show, but once Samsung spokesman Scott Cohen pointed out the new gadget, I began to notice its unusual curved screen.

The picture quality was, unsurprisingly, remarkable and the weird curve didn't really affect the way my eyes saw the image.

Cohen explained that the curved screen is intended to give viewers a more realistic and grand experience, similar to that of going to an IMAX movie theater. He also explained that the curved screen gives consumers more viewing angles where the picture appears just as it would if they were looking straight on at the TV.

As with most things at CES, Samsung did not announce a release date or pricing information for the TV. In fact, Samsung didn't even provide a size for the curved display, but it looked to be about as big as one of their 55-inch OLED TVs.

--Salvador Rodriguez

Departing in five minutes: tours of CES| 2:05 p.m.

With 3,200 exhibitors and 1.9 million square feet of exhibition space, CES can be difficult to navigate even for the most ambitious techies.

So I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised to see a gaggle of headphone-wearing attendees following a tour guide around LG's gargantuan booth.

To avoid losing members of the group, the tour guide was accompanied by a bemused-looking assistant whose sole job appeared to be hoisting a large "Group M" sign above his head.

--Andrea Chang

Audi working on self-driving car with 3-D tech| 1:05 p.m.

Audi cars are stuffed with technology, with electronics making up "90% of innovations" at the German automaker, executives told a packed room during the CES convention Tuesday.

And, like Google and Lexus, Audi is trying to develop a self-driving car. The company said it has developed a laser scanning system that will be able to create 3-D maps of a vehicle's surrounding, allowing computers to guide the car around obstacles.

A prototype shown at Tuesday's talk, meant to be mounted on a vehicle's grill, is much smaller than the bulkier towers being outfitted on the tops of other driverless test cars.

But, as Lexus officials made clear Monday, Audi executives stressed that they're focused on "piloted driving," not "autonomous driving" without any human input.

"Our ultimate responsibility rests ... with the driver," said Ricky Hudi, Audi's chief executive engineer of electrics and electronics.

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