Panasonic turns to Firefox OS for its latest 4K TVs

6 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CES 2015: TV-makers bet big on 4K.

At a time when most consumers have yet to make up their minds over whether ultra high-definition 4K TVs are worth their high prices, Sharp Corp. is already moving on to what could be the next big thing.

Television manufacturers are betting big on 4K, with companies such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Sony all dramatically expanding their ranges of TVs capable of showing ‘Ultra HD’ content. There’s been a push recently to keep the TV from becoming that dumb monitor people buy every five to 10 years and don’t upgrade, unlike the devices they’re plugging into it. Tentatively dubbed “Beyond 4K,” the latest TV from the Osaka-based company will have a horizontal resolution close to 8,000 pixels, or four times better than 4K and 16 times greater than traditional high-definition TVs. Instead, at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, TV manufacturers have dusted off their strategy from a decade ago and doubled down on a push for more pixels with 4K TV.

Although the new Aquos TV sports a 4K panel, the firm’s picture-making technology makes it possible to produce 8K quality images on the display, meaning even 4K formatted content will be presented in 8K quality. Ahead of 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japanese electronics makers and national public broadcaster NHK have been passionate about making 8K commercially available before the games.

The industry standard for 4K is a picture at 4096 pixels by 2160 pixels, but a lot of manufacturers will use the phrase “Ultra-High Definition” interchangeably, despite only being 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels. Panasonic also unveiled four new 4K series of TVs, including its flagship high-end CX850 series, which includes voice command technology, and the CX600, which was awarded a 2015 CES Innovation Award due to its combination of high efficiency and brightness. If the product takes off, Sharp could fall victim to the prevailing trend in the Japanese electronics sector where cutting-edge tech gets commoditized quickly by rivals, particularly those in South Korea. This means 4K will give you roughly four times that resolution, and will make the 480 lines of resolution from a standard definition set look like a warm turd. But Mizushima said he is confident this time’s new technology will be difficult to replicate because it would require decades of knowledge and experience.

Sony announced 12 new 4K TVs, including what it claims is the world’s thinnest 4K television, the Bravia X90C, which is 4.9mm at its thinnest point – less than an Sony smartphone. Mizushima said inventing new technologies and making them available to customers before anyone else does is in the company’s DNA and will help it survive in the already-crowded TV industry. “No one is making profits in the industry, so in order to become profitable, doing something that others haven’t done is the only way and that is something we are being asked to do,” he said.

The X90C features a 4K Processor X1, which not only brings excellent clarity, colour and contrast to 4K content, but also up-scales both standard-definition and high-definition content to near-4K quality. A “groundbreaking, free-form display that breaks the limitations of rectangular displays.” Sharp offers more display sizes than anyone, he says, from 5 inches to 120 inches. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader. With 4K becoming such a hot battlefield for TV makers, it is inevitable that 4K TVs will be entering the mainstream before long, but it remains to be seen whether the eye-burning resolution will be enough of a temptation for consumers to fork out.

According to Forrester analyst James McQuivey, 4K TV was hype in 2014 and it will mostly be hype in 2015. “[It’s] not that the products aren’t real, or that they aren’t really good – they are. In a world where people are content to watch movies on mobile phones, trying to push TVs into higher and higher levels of quality is solving a problem viewers don’t have,” he said. “Yes, we will likely all own a UHD TV at some point.

Even then, most viewers won’t really know when they’re watching UHD content vs. upscaled HD content.” However, John Curran, managing director in Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology practice, took a more positive iew, stating: “4K TV sets are becoming one of the most widely produced types of TV model. It’s an 80-inch TV that has “quatron” technology: it adds a yellow pixel to the tradiotional RGB, to boost resolution 167% above 4K, and comes closer to Sharp’s 8K, he says.

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