84-Inch 4K Television Sets Arrive
OCT. 10, 2012 • The arrival of 3D did very little to drive high-definition television sales, but what turns out to be bringing consumers out to purchase a new set these days is screen size. The industry statistics that LG Electronics is sharing are that while the worldwide TV market saw a decrease of 6% last year, purchases of 55-inch and higher screens grew 56%. The reason LG is talking up that stat is that it is shipping its first 84-inch 4K ultra high definition TV during November, the 84LM9600 model. Similarly, Sony is launching its XBR-84X900 in the same screen size. The UHDTV 4K format is the same as film directors like James Cameron and Peter Jackson are using to shoot in. In technical terms, that is 3,840 x 2,160-pixel resolution, or about four times the number of pixels found with 1080p TVs. A standard 720 x 480-pixel DVD must be upscaled 24 times to fill a 4K screen. Such size and resolution improvements may seem very attractive to home theater enthusiasts, or video gamers desiring the largest and most immersive experience possible. But for now, screen size is the biggest draw of these Internet-ready televisions, as there is no 4K content yet available for these huge devices. Another consideration is the price, which comes close to $20,000.
Impact: With so much attention being focused on smaller screens of smartphones and tablets, we think it says a lot that consumers want larger screens. So much of the current platform discussion assumes mobile platforms are gobbling up demand for traditional televisions, yet we think the two businesses can co-exist quite nicely. One significant reason has been the advent of console motion controllers from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. All three input systems encourage a larger screen area to create an immersive experience to complement all of the physical action. Bigger screens are always attractive for sports and entertainment viewing, as well. The larger question we have is not the ongoing popularity for larger screens, but how the new 4K UHDTV will coexist with digital content downloading. Many broadband networks already are having problems streaming DVD quality content to all the subscribers who want to watch it. Luckily, early reviews of these new UHDTV sets indicate they are doing a fine job of displaying DVDs. But we openly question how many Internet providers will be up to the task of servicing 4K content. At $10,000 to $20,000 per UHDTV, this is not an issue that will become acute anytime soon. Prices always drop as technology becomes more accessible, however. Which begs the question, is even Blu-ray sufficient as a storage medium for the 4K standard over the long term. Many have weighed in to opine that Blu-ray should be the last popular disc-based platform. UHDTV, and questions of whether the Internet can service this standard, may throw that debate open again.