At a press event aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Samsung unveiled its largest TV to date, a 75-inch 3D TV in its flagship ES9000 LCD TV series. But despite the impressive size of the TV—the largest readily available model, apart from Sharp’s 80-inch models—most attendees appeared to be more captivated by another of the set’s feature: the ability to hurl an assortment of brightly colored birds across the screen using hand movements.

Some HDTVs now have the smarts to connect to the Internet to stream video and keep users up to date with social-network sites like Facebook.

Venturing into a screen size that was once the exclusive province of rear-projection TVs, Sharp yesterday introduced the 90-inch Aquos LC-90LE745U, an LCD TV whose $11,000 price tag is as impressively large as its screen size. Recently, Sharp has been using larger screen sizes to help differentiate itself from competitors. The LC-90LE745U is a full-featured, 3D-capable 1080p LCD set that includes a full-array LED backlight, 240Hz anti-blur technology, built-in Wi-Fi, and Sharp’s SmartCentral Internet platform with access to apps, YouTube videos, and CinemaNow, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu streaming movies and TV shows.

For the past few years, manufacturers have been adding Internet content and network connectivity to flat-panel TVs.

Now that the first 2012 TV models are available from a number of manufacturers, our engineers are hard at work putting them through their paces. There’s a fairly wide range of models being tested, from more basic models from secondary brands such as Haier, to the first 3D set we’ve tested from Sanyo (among the least expensive 3D TVs we’ve ever seen), to a fully loaded 3D flagship model from Samsung’s new ES8000 LCD series, which lets you control the TV using voice commands and gestures.

Samsung has released the pricing on its line of new 2012 LCD and plasma TVs , many of which boast an enhanced Smart TV suite of apps and services and some new ways to control the TV, as well as 3D. In addition, many step-up models will also get a performance boost thanks to new dual-core processors that allow the TV to multitask: For example, you can toggle back and forth between a movie and an app that can run simultaneously. And the entire line of Internet-capable sets now get built-in Wi-Fi and full Web browsers

Who knew that 2012 would shape up to be such a potentially interesting year for televisions? But if companies are able to live up to their CES promises, later in the year we’ll be seeing the first real TV-sized OLED TVs, plus a few big-screen 3D TVs with 4K technology. In the nearer term there will be a dramatic expansion in the number of sets that include Smart TV technology that can bring an ever-growing array of new content into our living rooms.