Haier’s booth at CES is a spectacle of innovations: You could barely walk five feet without seeing some new technology debuting. Ultra high definition, glasses-free 3D, Multi View, motion and gesture commands, even brain wave controlled TV games—Haier brought everything and the kitchen sink to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Haier is a giant in its native China, but in America, the company is more known for its air conditioners. This explains why there is so much new tech on display: Haier wants its new position in the American consumer electronics market to be taken seriously.
We appreciate the new tech that Haier brought to the table, but the sad truth is that everything we saw missed the mark.
Ultra high definition, one of this year’s biggest buzzwords (at least in the tech world), made an appearance at Haier’s booth, but in the form of a giant screen that showed just one image. Yes, this image looked fantastic, but a TV is more than just a glorified picture frame. No actual 4K content or upscaled 1080p content appeared, so there is no way of knowing what that side of this display's capabilities will look like.
Next up on the Haier Technology Tour was its Mutli View glasses, which Samsung previously announced. This technology allows two different broadcasts to play simultaneously, as long as the glasses are worn. Married couples with nothing in common can now watch two different programs while sitting next to each other. Of course, you’ll need headphones to hear your specific program. Strangely, the audio portion of Multi View technology was not on display. We think this technology has potential, but Haier’s version of it had crosstalk issues: Images meant for one set of glasses bled into the other pair.
The company’s glasses-free 3D television was strictly a prototype, like most other TVs the company displayed. Standing directly in front of it from a distance of maybe 6 feet would produce a somewhat blurry 3D effect—think the Nintendo 3DS, but not as good. When we moved in an arc around the TV, we found various sweet spots where the 3D kicked in, but the effect was still subpar.
Games were shown off that made use of a motion-sensing remote. A Haier rep played a tennis game, using the remote as a racket. It looked kind of like a low-quality Wii game: graphics were blocky and animations weren’t smooth. The rep seemed a bit frustrated by the poorly implemented motion controls—not a good look for prospective buyers.
One piece of tech that we really wanted to try out was Haier’s partnership with NeuroSky, called Brainwave TV. This tech uses a brainwave-sensing headset to allow you to play mind games on your Haier TV… at least that’s what the press release said—the prototype unit at Haier’s booth was broken. We were able to see NeuroSky’s brainwave technology in use elsewhere, though.
So ends our tour of Haier’s ambitious, yet ultimately disappointing booth. There was plenty of interesting tech to see, but everything felt far from finished, let alone polished. Haier is a huge brand in China and we’re genuinely interested to see where it will fit into the US television market. If CES was any indication, we’ll have to wait until next year’s show to see if Haier has improved its TV craft.