4K Offers Lower Prices, Higher Picture Quality -- But Which U.S. Network Will Offer It First?
The misfire over 3D TV has given way to 4K TV, also called Ultra HD TV. Consumers weary of the 3D debacle might take to a better 2D TV concept. Easier to stomach.
Many TV production companies have started using 4K equipment. The next issue is whether a TV network will begin transmitting in 4K. Some networks will have long memories. ESPN, for example, was part of the collateral damage that occurred with 3D TV and it abandoned its 3D network plan.
Further down the line, will TV advertisers consider 4k TV? Some digital companies are getting in position, with Google’s YouTube seemingly fixed to buy into some of the technology.
Perhaps a good selling point: Big-screen TV experiences are being pushed to do a lot more. Already, smart TVs suggest programs and content we might like and let us participate in a number of interactive programs, as well as connecting us to the vast Internet.
Who wouldn’t want a TV that is four times the quality of current TVs? (4Ks have 4,000 horizontal pixel lines versus current HDTV’ 1080 lines.)
Still, consumers typically find the right devices and technology levels for their needs and price sensitivity. TV networks, programmers and distributors painstakingly position themselves to take advantage of those trends.
Cheaper UHDTV will make it more enticing. Pushed by Chinese manufacturers, some UHDTV sets can currently be bought for under $1,000. Worldwide prices, according to NPD DisplaySearch, will sink to around $1,100 this year, down sharply from $7,800 a year ago.
All that said, those types of TVs already had their big moment in the sun a year ago at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But that isn’t to say other parts of the 4K/UHDTV business won’t shine. Japan’s NHK network will start transmitting in 4K this July, making it the first network in the world to do so. A more dramatic change will take place when -- and if -- the first U.S. network starts transmitting in 4K.
Even then, U.S. networks should leave room for another big meal: NHK is already testing 8K TV technology. Yes, that’s around 8,000 pixels.