CES 2014: 4K Curved TVs Just Don’t Make Sense

While the following discussion on TVs doesn’t directly fall under the umbrella of Apple’N’Apps, it is interesting to look at the technology landscape as a whole when visiting CES. Also, there’s always the potential that Apple releases their own full blown television set.

The major point of new TVs at CES 2014 was 4K/UHD (Ultra HD), or essentially double the resolution of current 1080P TVs. 1080P comes in at 1920 x 1080, so 4K sets come in at 3840 x 2160, and every new TV at CES 2014 seemingly touted 4K technology. It’s supposedly the next big thing, and it’s also combined with new curved TVs. Flat panels were all the rage, but now TV manufacturers are providing a slight blend to their TVs in an attempt to provide a little bit more immersive experience as the screen subtly wraps around you.
There will always be new TV technology on display, and it’s simply because manufacturers need to sell new sets. The problem is that they’re really up against it as a large majority have now upgraded to 1080P HDTVs, and the next step isn’t that apparent. We got to see a number of 4K TVs on display at CES 2014 whether it’s from Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, or Sharp, there’s no doubt that images are absolutely gorgeous. It’s quite extraordinary that you can have such a higher fidelity picture over the already great looking 1080P displays. What makes 4K really stand out is that the image on the TV approaches the quality of the naked eye as though you’re looking in person at the scene on the screen.

With the above said, it’s tough to find 4K content, and the video on display was short nature samples specifically gather to be displayed as loops. We’re still on the blu-ray phase of disc based content, which will stay at 1080P. In terms of streaming, companies like Netflix have promised 4K resolution, but in all honesty the internet infrastructure of the U.S. isn’t capable of streaming that higher resolution at much greater file sizes. It’s also worth noting that all current broadcast TV isn’t even at 1080P yet, with most HD stations coming in at either 1080i or 720P, so 4K isn’t even close. It really comes down to the camera equipment, and production trucks infrastructure, which can cost in the tens of millions to upgrade for each individual truck & set.

The curved display aspect is another question mark, as it does offer greater immersion with high visibility from edge to edge if you’re directly in the center. Viewing angles are problem enough with current TVs, and now you’re considerably cutting down the viewing angle for sitting off center of the TV. It’s also worth noting that to see the difference of 4K you need to be either very close, or have a TV of at least 70” in size. The new additions to the TV industry just don’t make sense, and that doesn’t even get into the prohibitive cost. Even when these sets come down in price, just like 1080P sets have done, it doesn’t seem that the broadcaster and internet infrastructure will even be ready by then.
One subtle new addition to TVs though is HDR, or high dynamic range, which was highlighted by Dolby’s new Dolby Vision system for picture encoding. Dolby claims that greater brightness is more important than just adding in more pixels. In fact, it seems that a higher range in color contrast and brightness can provide a much more significant picture difference than the move to 4K. A 1080P HDR set can offer 100 times the peak brightness of the current television grading standard for vastly brighter brights, darker darks, and richer colors. Dolby thinks it’s more than simply HDR, as it includes a grander color gamut, and refers to it as enhanced dynamic reproduction, and they’re working with streaming providers as well.

The television industry has a lot of major players that are desperately looking to come up with new technology to get you to upgrade your currently upgraded 1080P TV. It doesn’t seem like they have found that tech this year as it seems content is still king, and that’s what’s lagging behind.


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2 Comments on "CES 2014: 4K Curved TVs Just Don’t Make Sense"

  1. Eric January 16, 2014 at 1:01 AM -

    Mr Sheridan, 4K Blu-Ray is coming. Internet providers are not going to be able get us the content by streaming. It will cost the consumer too much.

    • Trevor Sheridan January 16, 2014 at 11:50 AM -

      4K Blu-ray isn’t even close, and I did specifically mention U.S. ISPs aren’t capable of 4K streaming.

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