A Better TV Set Is Coming Again, But Who Knows Where Or When?
We've heard -- or seen -- it all before: some new TV technology that is going to change our lives. This is where 4K TV, or Ultra TV sets, now lives. This new technology has four times the digital information as current HDTV and is where many TV set makers are looking to put another stake in the ground. But where?
Others like Japan's NHK are skipping the whole 4K thing and going right to 8K, which offers up 16 times the resolution of current HDTV. The real issue again is the typical Consumer Electronics Show spinout, where technology leads content.
When will 4K or 8K be a viable technology? In five years? Ten years? Take a guess. There is virtually no 4K TV content, apart from a few classic movies Sony has been upgrading such as "Taxi Driver" and "Lawrence of Arabia."
Most of the initial 4K content will come from "packaged media" -- DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in particular. One can't expect that TV networks, as well as cable, satellite and telco companies, are ready to digest another round of technology upgrades so soon after many HDTV and other digital conversions.
A bigger question is how and when TV technology companies will start working this into the brains of consumers through new TV marketing. Consumers have already been trained to upgrade their mobile phones every two to four years. That kind of timeline for replacement of TV sets would be cost-prohibitive, and companies like Sony know it.
All this might be tougher to market considering the big missteps with 3D TVs. Where was all the buzz about those better-viewing-experience TV screens at CES? You didn't hear much. This is not to say a couple of years from now they won't make a return with some better technology and software attached.
What could be the marketing line for 4K or 8K TV sets? "Newer," "better," "bigger," "easier-to-use"? All that is passé. New consumer technology like phones and gaming consoles focuses on specifics. Apple does a pretty good job of this when it comes to the next generation of iPhones.
One can always assume the "quality" of the experience -- video, audio, features -- will always be better. Tell me something else about a new consumer technology product -- and maybe even why the 70-inch screen I bought two years ago isn't enough.