CES 2009: Trend — Thin is In, Sort Of

I’ve got lots of photos of thin flat panel HDTVs that were announced by all sorts of companies at CES this year. And I’m not going to post any of them here. Sure, it’s pretty amazing that they can make a big plasma or LCD set that’s less than an inch thick. But my reaction is “So what?” When you’re sitting in a position so that you get a good view of the screen, you cannot tell if the display is a half inch or a half foot thick. I get it that the manufacturers have to differentiate their products, but I’m underwhelmed by thin sets. And then they go and put a half acre of plastic bezel around the panel, which may glow, or fade to transparent, or have some stylish little red or blue line as an accent. But I don’t see any compelling attraction for any of these “features”.

The new LCD panel from Samsung is meant to stack for a video wall; here are four screens next to each other.

If you want to impress me, do what Samsung’s LCD panel making division has done; they got rid of the bezel almost completely! Designed in part for digital signage applications where you pile four or more sets on each other to make a bigger image, they would also work fine at home. From across the room, I figured that they had to be rear projection models, because I’d never seen a flat panel with such a thin bezel.

The panel's bezel is thinner than on most rear projection TVs.

Now this is a “thin” that I can relate to, and I’d pay extra to get an HDTV with this feature. Just give me the screen, and nothing else. Let me decide what — if anything — I want to add to make it fit our room’s decor. What do you think?