CES 2012: Voice-actived TVs are here

Being able to control your TV by simply talking to it may be one of the differentiating trends at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Advancements in TV technology have been a focal point of the annual Las Vegas extravaganza for several years now. At first it was the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD, then it was the introduction of 3D, and last year it was a competition of 3D formats.

This year, however, 3D is taking something of a back seat. One of the big trends is Internet connectivity built directly into the sets, allowing users to browse the Internet, watch Netflix, and more without plugging anything into their TV.

That isn’t anything particularly new, though. What is perhaps poised to catch the most attention this year are voice-controlled TVs from LG and Lenovo.

Simply say “Hi, TV” and your TV turns on. Want to tune to channel 4? Don’t bother looking for the remote; tell your TV what you want to watch.

While voice-activated technology has been around for decades, it is only within the last couple years that it’s really started to hit the mainstream market. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral allows users to navigate through the console with their voice, and most recently the Siri technology in Apple’s iPhone 4S has captivated consumers.

It’s widely believed that Siri, in some capacity, will be integrated into an Apple-branded TV set later this year and it could be the step forward that TV manufacturers have been looking for.

But LG and Lenovo are trying to beat Apple to the punch. The big question is price. The cost of a nice flat-screen TV is cheaper than ever, and when you look at new entries like stereoscopic 3D TV and Google TV there is simply a lack of interest.

So LG and Lenovo will have to introduce nice price points if it wants to take the market forward. That’s one detail that will have to wait for a future show, though.