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A few years ago, stereo-3D TV came onto the market with tremendous hype and promise to transform how people watch TV. In business terms, it all just did not work. Faced with a lack of content, high pricing and inconvenient technology, 3D never emerged from a niche status—a situation that continues today. Many now predict the same fate for ultra-high-definition (UHD) television.

Stereo-3D Is Incoming

When stereo-3D debuted as a standard, brands touted the technology as another big of a shift like moving to color from black-and-white. It also provided hope for brands to differentiate their products, to gain a competitive advantage and to increase profitability.

However, the reality of S3D TV did not meet such high expectations. The poor adoption rate of 3D was a wakeup call for major TV brands, forcing them to shift strategy away from focusing on selling 3D TV sets to selling 3D TV capability as an added feature.

Brands also learned they could not charge a price premium for S3D. This changed the adoption rate, and by the end of 2012, only about 20 percent of all liquid crystal display televisions (LCD TVs) sold had 3D capability, according to the LCD TV panel estimations from information and analytics provider HIS.

Having learned from past mistakes, TV suppliers are gearing up to make UHD TV a success, determined not to repeat the mistakes they made with 3D. According to IHS, the current outlook shows suppliers shipping some 20.8 million UHD TV panels by 2017.

Learning From Mistakes

Learning from these mistakes, TV brands are prepping for a high rate of growth for UHD TVs during the next four years. The rise will begin this year as UHD TV panel shipments increase to close to 943,000 units, up from under 33,000 units in 2012. The next two years will see shipments rise to 7.1 million units in 2015, on their way to reaching 20.8 million units by 2017, with 50-inch and larger sets capturing 34 percent of the LCD TV panel market.

The market for 3D TVs faced three major obstacles when it launched: content, price and technology. Even with 3-D popular in cinema with movies such as “Avatar”, there was simply not enough 3D content for televisions. S3D TV also doubled the price premium of regular sets, and in perhaps the most significant obstacle of all, required consumers to change their viewing behavior by wearing a pair of glasses. For all these reasons, 3D adoption stalled.

Many believe that UHD will suffer a similar fate because like S3D, the format lacks television content, and introductory prices are very high. Still, there are some major differences.

UHD TV does not require any change in consumer behavior, as there is no need to wear glasses. UHD TV also provides greater depth to picture quality, giving a more immersive experience. And with upscaling technology, consumers can see better picture quality even when watching FHD content.

Learning from past experience, many TV brands are actively working to provide UHD content, either through upscaling or through the creation of proprietary UHD content. Already, Japan has plans to begin UHD broadcasting as soon as 2014, two years earlier than originally planned.

Also, 4K cameras and camcorders are now on the market, enabling creation of 4K content. Movies in 4K are likewise starting to show up.

4K in Focus

The increased focus on UHD LCD TVs comes in part from delays in commercialization for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TVs, an advanced technology that has encountered various challenges in manufacturing. With UHD now taking over for the meantime, panel suppliers and brands are working aggressively to reduce prices, with lower-cost UHD TV sets expected later this year, mostly in sizes from 50” to 100”.

Availability of low-end UHD LCD TV panels from suppliers, especially from Taiwan, may also help trigger UHD market growth, particularly in China. Some brands are already planning to introduce a 50-inch UHD TV in China at a $2000 price point. Along with lower prices, UHD TV quality also has to be accepted by consumers For long term sustainable growth to occur, however, the quality of UHD TV must be deemed acceptable by consumers to justify the switch, and prices have to come down as well.

Top panel suppliers such as Samsung, LG Display, AUO and Innolux are all introducing UHD TV panels, with brand manufacturers such as Sony, Sharp, Samsung, LG Electronics, Vizio and many Chinese bands planning to launch their own offerings later this year.  The variety of products available, as well as the different price points and sizes for the sets, will help increase adoption rates, IHS believes.

On the technological front, oxide thin-film transistor (TFT) is considered to be a superior technology compared to conventional amorphous TFT LCD in order to achieve higher-resolution products. But oxide TFT faces challenges in capacity and yield issues, whereas panel suppliers have been able to offer lower-cost UHD panels produced from conventional amorphous TFT LCD.

Tags: NHK, 8K, SHV, HEVC, UHD, UHDTV

Discussion

Comments currently: 11
Discussion started: 05/19/13 05:12:32 PM
Latest comment: 05/25/13 05:03:08 PM
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1. 
The so-called experts are missing a major point. 3D was introduced at the peak of LCD adoption. Most people just spent good money on their new large LCD and wouldn't spend $1000-$3000 to upgrade their 2-year old TVs.

If they failed to see this issue of timing, UHD will suffer the same fate. As for me, my 5+ years old Samsung 120-Hz 52" LCD (top of the line back then) is still displaying gorgeous pictures; even friends with newer LED LCD are impressed by its quality. So, I won't be buying any 3D LCD or UHD LCD soon. Fingers crossed.

Edit: While UHD reviewers are impressed, some of them claim that the 'perceived' improvement from HD to UHD is less dramatic than the shift from SD to HD. I personally do not know.
0 0 [Posted by: gamoniac  | Date: 05/19/13 05:12:32 PM]
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Because there is no 4K content yet. And to be honest, watching 480p on a 1080p TV/monitor, looks way worst than watching it on a native CRT monitor/TV for example...
0 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 05/19/13 08:33:21 PM]
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I agree TAViX. I realised that my favourite 4:3 tv shows at 576i were going to look horrible on 4K TV. So I decided not to wait and purchased lastest gen Sony 1080p.
1 0 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 05/20/13 05:36:08 AM]
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2. 
These Press Releases are intended to convince the gullible that they can't live without 4K high-def TV. Like sheep to the slaughter house...
1 0 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 05/20/13 09:45:42 AM]
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3. 
Wait til you stream true 4K content: you'll be over your monthly quota within a few hours. :|
0 1 [Posted by: thudo  | Date: 05/20/13 12:51:29 PM]
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They're banking on the H.265 codec to solve that.
0 0 [Posted by: JBG  | Date: 05/20/13 03:33:47 PM]
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4. 
will smaller screens be cheaper to manufacture? like 27 to 34". this will make a less tiring when reading or programming.
maybe they should invest een a borderless (or transparent borders) screen so they can combine many little screens. this will increase yields.
0 0 [Posted by: massau  | Date: 05/20/13 02:42:57 PM]
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5. 
Another pair of slippers!
It's true that the 4K displays will become usual in next 3 years, it's also more than to be believed that 4K will be only a cross standard to the 8K.
Eniway thought is that both od them will be limited to the premium contends for a long time.
The television media houses have problems whit cash flow because it's not the most popular media this days so it will be a really difficult for them to adapt new standards.
The final problem is that even Havc (H265) is only marginally capable to provide a good quality 4K video in a 20Mb/s frame which is a satellite per stream limitation!
0 0 [Posted by: Zola  | Date: 05/21/13 02:29:23 AM]
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6. 
3D is only mostly irrelevant. 4K is completely irrelevant.

LCD TV hardware is mature. Important developments over the next few years will come in software and in internet content, not in hardware.
0 0 [Posted by: CSMR  | Date: 05/21/13 06:07:43 AM]
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7. 
4k might become a standard but it will remain largely ignored by the public.
1 0 [Posted by: DivideOverflow  | Date: 05/21/13 11:00:02 AM]
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8. 
The challenge of 4K2K (UHD) TV is to increase the production yield of LCD or OLED panel, reduce the price of product and support the wide contents industry (broadcasting, S/W). The Korean companies picked OLED and smart TV as the next generation core technology and predicted the 4K2K (UHD) TV market to open in earnest at least after 2 to 3 years. However, the market for 4K2K (UHD) TV seemed to be already one step closer after attending 2012 IFA (Berlin Consumer Electronics Fair) and CES 2013 (International Consumer Electronics Show). UHD market reports is available from Electronics.ca Publications: http://www.electronics.ca...hd-tv-market-insight.html
0 0 [Posted by: Electronics.ca  | Date: 05/25/13 05:03:08 PM]
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