Panasonic Unveils Its Newest 4K Ultra-High Definition TV At CES 2015

6 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

A Panasonic Ultra HD TV is on display at a press event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the 2015 International CES on Monday in Las Vegas, Nevada. 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.

And in a bid to push ultrahigh definition, also called 4K TV, into the mainstream, those companies are teaming up with each other and content makers like Netflix, Walt Disney Studios and others to set standards for 4K TVs and content. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/AFP LAS VEGAS — After several years of sluggish sales, television manufacturers are pegging growth hopes on new technologies that deliver a more immersive and interactive experience and stunningly realistic image displays. 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.

There’s no doubt that 4K televisions look amazing, but so far, there’s not a lot of content available, and consumers aren’t sure why they need higher resolution TVs than the high-definition TVs they upgraded to only a few years ago. He saw 4K as a major trend at CES, and expected prices for some well-known brands to drop below $1,000, essentially eliminating the edge high-definition televisions have with budget-minded consumers. 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 newly announced UHD Alliance will no doubt work hard to answer those questions — but 4K content and falling prices are likely to be the biggest incentives.

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. LG, for example, focused on organic light-emitting diode technology, or OLED TVs, which are superslim and extremely energy-efficient and have better picture quality than high-definition sets.

The “ultra HD” market included fewer than 1-million units sold in 2013, growing to 9.3-million in 2014 with sales projected at 23.3-million in 2015, CEA said. 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. The machines start at 55 inches and feature a curved display — another, a 77-inch model, can be changed to curved or flat with the press of a button. 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. Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony is adding a dozen new 4K Ultra HD Bravia LCD television models, including a skinny, rich X9000C touted as so thin it appears as though it is “floating” against a wall.

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. Meanwhile, Sharp vowed to go ‘beyond 4K’, claiming that its new series of AQUOS 4K TVs has 42 million more subpixels than standard 4K, and Samsung claimed that its new ‘SUHD’ TVs surpass the limitations of previous displays, thanks to nano-crystals that transmit different colours of light depending on their size (a variation of quantum dot technology).

But the company also announced a collection of 4K TVs with more traditional LCD displays, and even seven sets that are traditional high-definition. (LG, as an aside, also surprised the crowd by announcing the LG G Flex 2, the second version of its curved smartphone. 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. More on that in a future post.) Panasonic promoted its color accuracy and said its Internet-connected televisions would run Firefox OS — an open operating system for devices. Japanese electronics giant Sharp on Monday unveiled what it called its “beyond 4K” television set for release later this year which offers an even more realistic image than its traditional “ultra high definition” models. “We will bring the viewing experience closer to reality in 2015 by introducing the highest quality resolution TV available. 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.

Sharp announced what it said was actually the highest of the ultrahigh resolution 4K TVs, which use “pixel-splitting technology” to sharpen the picture. By enhancing the technology behind the TV “pixels” and adding “subpixels” Sharp said this new device would have resolution 167% higher than existing 4K models. 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. Sharp also announced it would offer Google-powered Android TV on some of its models to give viewers apps from that system, and would offer a variety of new televisions in the 4K format with prices as low as $750. Samsung is ramping up its SUHD television line with smarts powered by its Tizen operating software, claiming a superior solution to problems with reliability, lifespan and colour richness. “We have heard loud and clear that customers want the (ultra high-definition) experience, and that they love the large, curved UHD TVs,” said Samsung America executive vice-president Joe Stinziano.

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. Chinese maker TCL meanwhile unveiled its top-of-the-line “quantum dot” television — which uses a film of tiny light-emitting crystals to improve picture quality at a lower cost than that of existing models. Tim Baxter, president of Samsung USA, said after the event that the company was trying to create content offerings that complement its hardware, and give people a reason to buy both Samsung phones and televisions. “We think the intersection of technology and content is what consumers are looking for,” Mr. Baxter said. “We want to add some unique content that people can move around between devices.” And for more ultrahigh-definition content delivery, Dish announced a 4K receiver and digital video recorder that will let customers receive and record 4K TV over satellite. The company said the new receiver, called the 4K Joey, would work with any 4K TV, and that it would also let users watch two programs simultaneously, side by side, in full high definition (think dueling football games).

In another sign that the new standard is gaining ground, a group of Hollywood studios, consumer electronics brands and others on Monday launched the UHD (Ultra High Definition) Alliance to set new standards “to support innovation in video technologies including 4K and higher resolutions,” according to a statement released by the group. Although Sling TV can be played on some Internet-connected TVs from Samsung and LG, and on streaming set-top boxes like Roku and Google’s Nexus Player, it will also work on tablets and mobile phones — the viewing devices of choice for this young, mobile generation.

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