Today’s press day at the 2012 International CES, when many manufacturers unveil the products they’ll show off beginning tomorrow when the show floor opens. And based early announcements, it appears that TV set manufacturers believe they can revive their stagnating sales by packing lots of existing features — including Web connections, 3D, and voice commands — into devices with humongous screens. LG led the way this morning by announcing plans to sell an 84-inch LCD TV, the largest available in the U.S. It’ll be 3D compatible, include Wi-Fi, and respond to voice commands. LG, Samsung, and Sony will also be talking up sets that include Google TV; LG said that it will develop its own chip sets for the product that integrates Web videos with conventional TV. Sharp also now says it will add 3D compatibility to a feature-packed 80-inch TV it announced late last year. Separately, Nuance — known for its Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition program — announced plans to sell voice recognition software to TV and box makers. The company says that Dragon TV will enable viewers to find what they want by speaking commands such as “Go to PBS”, “What’s on Bravo at 9 PM tonight?”, “When is Ellen on?”, and “Watch Dexter on DVR”.
This may be an uphill battle. The most exciting new announcements for TV sets this year likely will come later from Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Smartphones, tablets, and thin laptop computers known as ultrabooks are getting the most buzz so far at CES. But traditional TV set manufacturers have to do something as the product becomes a commodity. Just 32% of the consumers in the U.S, France, Japan, China, and India surveyed by Accenture say that they intend to buy any kind of set over the next 12 months, down from 35% who said last year that they’re preparing to buy.