TV IP Control Report from CES 2013

Each year we scour CES for information about IP control. It’s often a challenge to find the appropriate people who know things other than pure marketing specs at trade shows, but with the popularity of accompanying iPhone apps for almost everything these days, it’s getting much more common for your average trade show staffer to know whether their device will work with an “app”. This makes it generally feasible to get some limited information without waiting for devices to be available on the market for testing.

This year at CES looks likely to bring some marginal improvements for some manufacturers while others like Samsung remain firmly entrenched. Here is what we know so far until we get 2013 models in house.

Panasonic as usual was a clear highlight of forward-thinking IP control across its entire product line. This year, staffers claim that the entire Smart TV range will support power control via IP. Last year, only the top end VT50 and GT50 supported that, and even then only in US models. The Smart TV range is quite broad across many models, so we’re hopeful this claim pans out. They were able to demo power control for us live, so it seems like this may come to pass. They will also be offering new APIs for functionality in their 2013 models to launch apps on the TV which we look forward to adding in Roomie. Similarly, Panasonic will continue to support full IP control for their Blu-ray players with the new 230 and 330.

Samsung unfortunately continues to treat the mention of iOS and Apple as something bordering on a misdemeanor offense in their pavilion. They happily and immediately blame Apple’s blockage of Bluetooth APIs in iOS (Apple does not allow custom Bluetooth from iOS apps) for the lack of power control from iOS. They knew exactly what we were asking about and were quite clear they would continue to support power via Bluetooth and Infrared only and not IP which means another year of hobbled Samsung TVs. This obviously is pending resolution of the much larger ecosystem battle wherein this is just one of many smaller skirmishes.

Much like Panasonic, Sharp views IP control as a core feature across most of their product line. We expect virtually all Sharp TV models for 2013 to continue with full IP control support.

LG is a vendor we’ve added to support their Blu-ray players in the past, but their lack of true IP control with power support generally makes them better to use via infrared anyway. This year, LG representatives said they were definitely aware of the problem and were trying to get the issue fixed right now while their 2013 models are still in beta testing, but could not yet commit whether they would fix this. That of course means it is not fixed today, so tempered expectations are probably the best bet for now.

Sony has been a mixed bag for IP control in the past with some of their 2012 Blu-ray player models supporting Wake on LAN for the first time which was a great sign, but their TVs have never had any solution. We haven’t been able to find a representative at the Sony pavilion yet that knows whether they have made any improvements in this area for their 2013 TV models.

In summary, if you’re planning ahead for the year and looking to make sure your new sets have IP control, Panasonic or Sharp remain the best choices. We’re hopeful LG or Sony will join the party this year, and we’re confident Samsung can be counted out as firmly in the infrared group at least for their 2013 TV models.