Reuters reports that 4K ultra high definition TVs are aimed at
the market of 50+ inch sets, which is now a very large market.
Sony’s 4K chief said that once you watch one, you cannot go
back. 4K sets, available from Sony, Sharp, Toshiba and
Panasonic face four formidable hurdles:
– Where’s the 4K content? Will it be only HD content that’s
upgraded to 4K as Sony Pictures is doing for the epic film
“Lawrence of Arabia”? To make 4K into a “must have” in homes,
it needs two things: Sports, which will require lots of 4K
cameras, and must see 4K movies and TV shows.
– How will 4K be delivered? Blu-ray does not do 4K, as
evidenced by Sony pictures having to downgrade its 4K version
of “Lawrence” to Blu-ray. Pay TV services are already choked
on HD and few, except for DirecTV, can deliver full,
uncompressed HD videos. The evidence is how much better HD
looks when it comes into the home from a local broadcaster
over an antenna that’s connected to the TV set. If pay TV
can’t deliver true, uncompressed HD, how will they deliver 4K,
which has 4x the resolution of the current HD?
– Samsung and LG, not the Japanese set makers, are the
leaders in TV sales. They may very well launch their own ultra
high def standards instead of accepting what the Japanese
outfits have developed.
– Price. Current 4K 50-inch sets will sell for $20,000 and
up. That is not the problem, because technology and volume
production should be able to get that to below $5,000, maybe
even to $2,000. However, consumers are only now reaching the
end of the HD buying cycle and may be reluctant to upgrade.
The current economic situation does not make consumers
optimistic, but then again, sports fans will do almost
anything to see their teams in the very best resolution.
Japan won the Blu-ray wars, and both Samsung and LG make Blu-
ray players and sell them successfully. However, the Japanese
set makers have failed with their 3D efforts in homes despite
Samsung and LG’s efforts.
There is a fifth barrier called the Internet. There will
shortly come a time when more professionally produced video
will be delivered to the home via broadband, and the broadband
service providers are nowhere near being able to deliver
millions of HD streams simultaneously, much less 4K.