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CES So Far: 4k TV Makes Its Mark as Smartphones Take Back Seat

by David Mercer | 1月 09, 2013

As hoped for in my comments last week, television has created much of the excitement so far at CES 2013. Things started off well when the first major press conference from LG spent very little time on smartphones, instead leading with OLED and Ultra-HD, and indeed also smart home in the form of smart appliances. LG announced three Ultra-HD screen sizes for 2013 launch: 55”, 65” and 84”, and confirmed that the 55” model would retail for less than $10,000.

Sharp joined the UHD party by announcing 60”, 70” and 85” models, and demonstrations at the company’s booth are very impressive. Perhaps most dramatic in terms of market impact could be Hisense, which has taken over the prominent location previously occupied by Microsoft. Hisense is demonstrating UHD in 50”, 58”, 65” and 84” screen sizes. The company told me that the 84” is effectively a custom-built model, but the sub 65” models are all scheduled for mass production in March and availability in the US in May. Most significantly prices are expected to be approximately only twice the 1080p equivalent. We will try to get further confirmation on the implications of this assertion, which could clearly have a dramatic impact on early UHD demand becauses prices would be far below any previous estimates.

Another indication of UHD pricing came from Toshiba, who told me that their 65” and 58” models would be priced at less than $100 per inch, although again the 84” was seen as very much a different story. Toshiba’s UHD native 4k video demonstrations were very impressive. I have to say I was less impressed by the Hisense demos, although these were also claimed to be native 4k.

The biggest supporter of 4k is Sony, whose impressive stand has this as a strong theme across video creativity and TVs. Most stunning of all is Sony’s prototype 4k OLED, demonstrating that OLED technology will eventually embrace UHD, although at what cost? Nevertheless the 56” display confirmed what we always suspected: 4k really does have an impact at “smaller” screen sizes, in spite of claims from many who may have never seen it.

I did also take a demonstration of Samsung’s innovative dual view 3D OLED TV with quad-core processor, which allows two viewers to watch different programmes on the same TV. Not being a great 3D fan, this was nevertheless a very effective demonstration. The challenge is that the glasses are effectively selecting between different TV inputs, so the viewer would need to be using either multiple set-top boxes or boxes with multiple video outputs.

David Mercer

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