Sony @ CES 2013
Sony had many products on display at their booth, but each time I stopped by to take a look I got lost in the beautiful 4K displays. Which was OK in my book for two reasons: 4K is gorgeous, anyone who doesn’t get it is blind or wants to have a small TV and second Sony’s booth was all about selling 4K – and I was buying. Not literally of course, because they are crazy money :).
Check out the gallery and a video of their 4K OLED after the click.
4K doesn’t make sense on a 50″ display unless you’re using it as a computer monitor and are located accordingly close. It probably also doesn’t make sense on a 55, 60 or 65″ TV either unless you like to cuddle up with your content (no judgements, just saying ;)). Moving beyond those sizes though the value is obvious and frankly most “4K is stupid” pundits say that too after getting past the link-baity headlines. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I want the biggest TV I can hang on the wall, put in the wall, or display on the wall and there isn’t a wall in my house that is less than 70″ so 4K is an obvious, natural next step in the move towards bigger, better displays so let’s get on with it.
I could have spent hours looking at this 4K OLED, but unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day. I did spend a lot time looking for problems though, but the only one I could find was that it was just 56″.
But what about the content?
But what about the content? I can see movies being remastered into 4K, but for stuff like sports to become available in 4K don’t we need a new broadcast standard that goes beyond the current ATSC of 720p and 1080i using MPEG-2? Where are we on that given that it took well over a decade to go from SD to HD.
Sony announced a download
Sony announced a download service for 4K content at CES (hmm, I probably should have mentioned that :o), so there’s that. OTT providers like Netflix are working on delivering 4K content as well, probably using HEVC. It is still a long way off though, and will probably take a similar time frame to deploy UHD content out to the broader market.
More importantly, we don’t currently have a great way to get 4K off the boxes in the stack and into the TV. HDMI 1.4 only supports 4K@24p, HDMI 2.0 will be required to get 4K@60+ so even though you will be able to buy 4K displays this year it’s best to hold off until at least 2014.
TBH, this is a horrible year to buy a TV (although I will be doing it) because we’re stuck in the transition space b/w HD and UHD. It’s not a huge problem unless you want a 70″ or larger display though, 4K isn’t that valuable on smaller displays.
If you are in the market for a 70″+ display and will be siting a reasonable distance away (i.e. close enough to get value from 4K), wait. Don’t be tempted by Sharp’s gigantic LCDs, they look terrible when you get up close. I actually asked a vendor doing a demo on an 80″ Sharp if they were using a DVD (it was BD), that’s how bad.
Well over a decade? How
Well over a decade? How about almost 70 years? The original NTSC standard was developed back in 1941. It was modified for color television in 1953 and was used for OTA transmissions until 2009. There are a lot of people that still haven’t made the switch to HD, not to mention 3D. I like the idea of 4K, but to think the public will embrace a costly new technology this soon is unrealistic. It takes decades for new technology like this to saturate the marketplace enough for the public to consider upgrading to something better. Broadcasters are probably still trying to recoup their investment in HD hardware. Unless they’re willing to take the plunge the public isn’t likely to buy into it without source material to watch. I still run into lots of people that are content with SD resolutions so 4K is really more of a niche product at this point. The fact that so many people are happy with mediocre streamed content says a lot about our culture.