Just when you think your spanking new, ultra-thin, borderless TV is the toast of town, you might want to know that sharper, bigger and curved, yes, curved screens are making their way to your living room in the next few years.
If you have more than US$10,000 in the bank now, you could actually buy some of these new OLED (organic light-emitting diode) and 4K TVs this year. But chances are, these screens which appear to be the highlight of this week’s CES technology expo in Las Vegas will become a lot more affordable in the years to come.
First off, the much-hyped OLED screens. Unlike current LED screens, they require no back-lighting. That means manufacturers don’t have to place lights at the back of the screen to display an image, so the TV can be really, really thin. You’re talking about just a few credit cards thick.
OLED TVs are also said to have very fast response time, resulting in really sharp images even when fast action like a car chase is being played on screen. At the same time, since each light can be switched off on an OLED TV, it offers better contrast and “deeper blacks” – something which plasma TVs have been winning over video buffs with.
Another thing that OLED TVs can offer is a curved screen, promising something of an “IMAX-lite” experience. At CES, Samsung and LG showed off some prototypes of these displays, which make for great show pictures. Question is, will couch potatoes bite?
And although Sony, Samsung and others all rolled out mega-sized screens, the good news is the first realistically-sized OLED TV, a 55-incher from LG, will be out in the United States in March. The 55EM960V will set you back by US$12,000, but hey, if you’re a serious video buff who wants the best…
In 2013, OLED is just one buzzword you’ll hear more in electronics stores. The other is 4K. While OLED refers to the type of display technology, compared to, say, LCD or plasma, 4K is related to a screen’s resolution.
There are a good number of 4K screens ready for 2013 from just about any TV maker. Indeed, LG and Sony have already shipped a couple of models here in Singapore in late 2012.
In the next 12 months, expect more of these high-resolution wonders. Also described as Ultra HD or UHD, these screens which a sharpness that is four times as much as what you get on current Full HD TVs. The 3,840 × 2,160 resolution here brings about 8 megapixels of detail, trumping the 1,920 x 1,080 (2 megapixels) on most TVs now.
The benefit is clear to potential buyers. However, unless you have loads of PC games to play on your new sharp screen, much of today’s TV content does not come in such high resolutions. Sure, you can upscale your Full HD Blu-rays, but there is no magic to add extra detail to your Spiderman movie.
Still, like HDTVs before them, these UDTVs or 4K TVs will start turning up in stores before the content is there. In 2013, almost every major manufacturer will be bringing out a 4K TV.
The concept of a sharper screen, after all, is easier to sell than, say dorky 3D glasses that the TV industry seemed fixated with in the past few years. True, the new screens will still have 3D, but that’s not the selling point.
More likely, the new 4K screens will awe people with their super-sized dimensions. With that kind of detail, you can mount a 84-inch TV in even small apartments without worrying about staring at fat pixels. For larger living rooms, there are even bigger 110-inch displays, like Samsung’s S9. How’s that for making your neighbour grow green with envy?
While OLED TV and 4K TVs will be very much in the news this year, the ultimate is, of course, an OLED TV with a 4K resolution. That will give you not just vibrant images but also unrivalled sharpness.
Indeed, both Sony and Panasonic showed off what each claimed to be the largest OLED 4K TV at CES. Little else is known about either 56-incher, though the Japanese electronics giant did say it was working with Taiwan’s AU Optronics to develop the OLED panel for its prototype.
It looks like the TV industry has finally got over its obsession with 3D and gone back to wowing users with really thin, sharp and beautiful displays. That’s something to look forward to.