The televisions that are going to be invading our living rooms in 2012, the ones that Samsung and LG and the rest have been trotting out this week at CES? They're the most exciting gadgets of the year, and not because of any apps or gimmicks or third dimensions being shoved down our throats. In fact, they're wonderful in spite of all that.
The TVs of last year were boring and reliant on cheap tricks. They were supposed to be smart—which translated to awful glitchy menus we didn't need and a heap of apps we already had. They were so 3D—which meant bulky eyewear, sore retinas, and sparse content. 3D is a dud, mostly, and "smart" TVs have been garbage, entirely. Companies decided TVs weren't about watching things on TV. Companies really screwed up.
TV had lost its way. TV was boring. TV is back.
This year's TVs tout the pointless features of the past, yes. But the off-key bells and whistles are an afterthought. Why? We're too busy gawking at how fabulously amazing the pictures are.
OLED, 4k, Crystal Display, 8k. A supernova of new technologies that aren't trying to make you tweet while you're watching 3D Scooby Doo. This new wave of displays are pointed at one thing: looking good. Pornographically good. Samsung, LG, and Sony aren't trying to make your life better, easier, or more connected. These screens exist for one reason only: to stroke your eyeballs with stupidly sharp pictures, stratospheric HD resolutions, and colors that look so realistic, you might literally want to have sex with an LCD panel. Teensy-thin levitating rainbow portals into another dimension. Our Casey Chan had the world's first ocular ejaculation.
We'll be watching these TVs in our underwear pretty soon.
The TVs of our near future aren't great because of any feature list, but because of phenomenal picture quality. Streaming conveniences and great interfaces are nice, but they should always be secondary. Far, far secondary. A TV should make pretty pictures like a rocket should be fast, like a spoon should hold cereal, like a rare bird should sing exotic songs. Make TVs do what they're meant to do, and make them do it really, really well.
In fact, make every gadget do what it's meant to do, and make them do it well. Purge the gimmicks. Purify the things we buy. Earn our thousands. We don't need our hardware to multitask just because it can. I don't want a tweeting toaster or Netflix in my dishwasher. I want technology that does what it's supposed to do, and does it better than anything else ever has before.
Samsung's OLED TV is simply the best digital image I've ever looked at in my life. Sharp's 8k set is the most awesomely overwhelming gadget I've ever been in the presence of. Biblically so. Being able to type that with sincerity is so, so, so refreshing. Beautiful TVs are a pure, wonderful thing.
We're sick of smart, sick of overcomplicating, sick of lag and promises that don't work out. Gadgets should make us happy. Looking at a big, gorgeous TV makes us happy. We need more of this, and we need it soon: companies showing us things that make us happy. That's rarer than any exotic bird.