The transition to 4K is beginning in earnest, the next must have catch phrase technology is about to invade our living rooms. A hand full of manufacturers have used this week’s CES show to announce an affordable revolution with four $1000 55 inch UHD TV’s about to hit the market.
The heavy-weights of content delivery are already dividing the spoils; the first battles of the 4K revolution will take place on the internet. CES saw Netflix, YouTube and Amazon all demonstrating 4K content delivered via the internet, each making their intent to dominate clear to the competition. But what device will we use to play this content? What is the perfect media device for that brand new 4K TV?
The floors of CES has been awash with the bright lights of display panels, like watching every television channel in the world at once, images flicker at every point of the vista. How many of those displays were 4K UHD displays? You may be surprised!
Some say that 4K is the new 3D, the new must have feature of any new TV destined for the living room or around the house. This year’s CES was the coming of age for UHD, including 4K and above resolutions; yup 8K TV’s were on display as well. With every TV manufacturer having multiple new 4K models on show the trend was more than obvious, it was strikingly sharp. Poor old normal high definition has seemingly been consigned to smartphones and tablets.
Kogan, TCL, Vizio and Polaroid launch the $1000 4K Ultra HD War…
Kogan the down under online retailer caused a stir this week by travelling all the way to Las Vegas to announce their cheap 4K TV, the 55 inch UHD TV for $1000 AUD. According to Gizmodo the TV looks good in real life, a shockingly thin bezel and sleek silver lines wrap around the display and continue down to the stand. Around the back the list of connectors includes 4 HDMI, 4 USB, Ethernet and WiFi all mounted on a white back panel. Android is onboard to provide Smart TV functionality. Kogan expect the TV to go on sale at the end of January and we suspect it will sell very well.
Polaroid made headlines recently with the announcement of new products, amongst the line-up is the 50 inch 50GSR9000 UHD TV that is set to sell for $1000 USD. The display includes 3 HDMI Inputs but lacks any Smart TV functionality. The picture quality is described as pin sharp from in front but it does suffer blurring when viewing on an angle. Availability isn’t precisely known but is expected to be in the first half of 2014.
Vizio sells most of its panels in America; those lucky enough to have access to the brand have access to some great value high quality displays. Vizio announced at this week’s CES their entry into the value 4K TV market, the 50 inch UHD P Series that is set to retail for$999 USD. The new P-Series panels will feature 64 zone LED backlighting, dual core CPU and 4 GPU cores that together allow per-pixel video processing. Of the cheap UHD TV’s the Vizio will provide the best picture and most features, by far the best of the new breed. Vizio is planning to release the new P-Series in the second half of 2014, this may be the TV of the year.
TCL were of course one of the first manufacturer to announce a value oriented UHD TV. Announced in July the 50 inch UHD TV was reported to be going on sale in America for $1000 USD, although the TV is still unavailable and the release date is still unknown. TCL do have many other models available including a series that integrates a Roku box into the TV.
Content, the big question…
Demand for content won’t wait for a new disc format and the transitions required, this will force users to the internet.
Netflix, YouTube and Amazon are all preparing services and content which should start appearing in the next few months. All three used CES to demonstrate their technology and preview TV’s already including support. Both Netflix and YouTube have already been integrated into various models, both using different compression formats (H.265 is used by Netflix 4K and Google’s V9 is used by YouTube)
Unfortunately this lack of standard does mean that there will be a number of competing compression formats and delivery services for a while. A media PC is the only devices that will access all services and formats, updating them as required. For music, video or game production 4K TV’s could also be a handy addition, especially at $1000.
The next generation consoles are both capable of driving 4K TV’s at their native UHD resolution but this functionality is not enabled at the moment. A software update will be required once the compression standards have been decided upon; most industry pundits are expecting the 4K update to happen mid 2014.
We can even now capture our own UHD content with the new Sony entry level 4K HandyCam, the FDR-AX1000 4K Camcorder. At $2000 it’s still expensive as a family HandyCam but it is by far the cheapest 4K camera, excluding the GoPro of course. Video production enthusiasts now have an entry level camera that won’t require a mortgage, now even a soccer ball to the crotch can be shot in Ultra High Definition. Great value when you break it down to cost per pixel.
Upscaling is still a major issue for UHD TV’s, older devices such as the PS3 may actually look worse upscaled than they do on a standard HD TV. Upscaling has come a long way mind you, modern algorithms can produce very good results but it can vary from TV to TV.
As the world shrinks life seems to also be speeding up, technology transitions have now been reduced to mere years instead of decades. Will this be the fastest technology transition in history? Will 2014 be the year of the UHD 4K TV? Here at Highpants we think so.