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Michael Bitton: CES 2018 Thoughts

Columns By Michael Bitton on January 11, 2018

CES 2018 Thoughts

I don’t typically write about technology here at MMORPG.com, but I do like to follow it. CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is the E3 of the technology world and I look forward to it each year. There’s usually a lot of junk at CES, but the cool stuff tends to set the stage for what we can expect in technology for the year and offer some exciting hints for the future.

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Nothing really blew me away this year from what I’ve been able to see, but I wanted to offer my thoughts on some of the developments at this year’s show.

OLED

OLED technology is something I’ve been excited about for a long time. I’ve always hated LCDs and it took me forever to move on from my old CRT monitor and TV. I just didn’t care for the idea of going backwards in quality just for a smaller form factor. The black and contrast levels on LCDs always left a lot to be desired and so did the viewing angles (until IPS became affordable). This is why I opted for Panasonic Plasma for our first HDTV a while back. The tradeoff with plasma was the high energy costs, the weight, and, of course, the dreaded screen burn-in.

OLED is able to accomplish the same feats of plasma, but with a crazy small and light footprint and burn in, while still an issue, isn’t typically as much of a problem as it is on plasma. We’ve made a ton of progress over the last few years with OLED in the TV space, but one area I’ve been hoping to see OLED make its mark is in PC displays.

Unfortunately, OLED’s issues (cost, burn-in) are exacerbated in a PC display scenario. Static images are much more common (e.g. your taskbar) on PC, so burn-in is a tougher challenge to figure out than say, on a TV or smartphone display. And the issues with cost are amplified simply due to the niche nature of high-end PC display tech.

2017 showed some hopeful signs. There were a couple of laptops with OLED screens available as an option and Dell even produced an OLED monitor (and then canceled it), so I held onto hope that we’d see some progress at CES in 2018, but alas, OLED on PC was a no show as far as I can tell.

Maybe next year? Or perhaps…

MicroLED

MicroLED is kind of the unicorn of display technology right now. It’s basically like OLED, only without most of its issues. OLED, like plasma, uses organic materials (thus the O in OLED), which age and degrade the picture quality over time. It’s these organic materials that make OLED (and plasma) susceptible to burn-in, too. MicroLED replaces the organic materials with inorganic ones, side-stepping the aging, brightness, and burn-in issues we find in plasma and OLED displays altogether. Inorganic materials are also cheaper to produce than organic ones, which should help drive down costs. On top of being a great level up for TV displays, these benefits would allow us to finally be done with LCDs in the PC space, too.

Up until now, I was under the impression that it would be quite a few years before we ever saw MicroLED displays in anything but smartwatches and phones, but Samsung surprised everyone this year at CES with a massive 146” MicroLED display made up of modular MicroLED panels. The display is a prototype, but the fact we’re seeing something like this now bodes well for the future of the technology.

NVIDIA’s BFGD

Another display surprise at CES is one that doesn’t appeal to me at all, but is impressive nonetheless. NVIDIA announced the “Big Format Gaming Display”, which are basically TV-sized displays (the one at CES was a whopping 65”), but with all the benefits of a gaming PC monitor. The display shown at CES was a 4K/120HZ screen with a G-SYNC and an NVIDIA Shield built-in. It’s absolutely bonkers.

I’ve never seen the appeal of using a TV as a PC monitor, but I have a friend that swears by it, and this type of display would be right up his alley. Besides the size, TV monitors aren’t great as PC displays due in large part to the massive input lag introduced by the TV’s processing. TVs can range anywhere from 50-200ms of lag while PC displays commonly offer response times below 10ms.

No word on pricing just yet, but if you’re someone who likes to use your PC with a TV, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for more details on these BFGDs.

Have you been keeping track of this year’s CES developments? What are some of your highlights from the show? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

 
 
 
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.