Ultra HD TV is on its way - for a price | South China Morning Post
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  • Jan 28, 2015
  • Updated: 2:39am

Ultra HD TV is on its way - for a price

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 November, 2013, 7:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 12:07pm

With plasma and LED televisions now commonplace in Hong Kong homes, you could be forgiven for thinking the television market may have gone a bit flat. Always on the lookout for new technology to persuade us to upgrade, major manufacturers have been licking their wounds after seemingly failing to convince the public to adopt 3-D TV at home.

So what's the next big thing? In the long run it's Ultra HD - also known as 4K - a new, more detailed panel that's the result of engineers squeezing in more pixels.

The detail is incredible, but the visual benefits of so many pixels is only really noticeable on larger screens. However, this opens the door for camera operators to take different production approaches; a football match can be followed from end to end without the need for close-ups on the ball - it's more like being at the event.

Maths also helps make a good case for Ultra HD. It measures 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, which equates to eight megapixels; the Full-HD TV you have at home is just two megapixels. It's possible to stand up close to an Ultra-HD TV and not see the pixels - try that on your current TV and you'll see a grid-like structure. Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony have Ultra-HD screens, and although they start at about HK$50,000 for a 55-inch model, it's the HK$75,000 65-inch and HK$215,000 85-inch sets that really make use of those extra pixels.

Besides the high cost, there's another issue with Ultra-HD TVs; there's almost nothing to watch. Blu-ray discs can handle only Full HD, and although an upgraded format should emerge next year, there's been no confirmation. Nor do any broadcasters supply Ultra-HD pictures (though Japan will start to next year). For now, the manufacturers promoting Ultra HD are talking about how capable their new wares are at upscaling Blu-ray discs, DVDs and TV to Ultra-HD quality. Is that enough to persuade you to part with so much cash?

Analysts are predicting mass adoption of Ultra-HD TVs by 2018, by which time prices will have come down significantly. Until then, there's another game in town: the curved TV. At the IFA technology trade show in Berlin last month, LG, Samsung and Sony all unveiled TVs that provide an image that is - they claim - at every point equidistant from your eyes. A gentle inward flex means less screen-edge visual distortion and detail loss, apparently, resulting in a more immersive, almost IMAX-style experience.

As usual, it's Samsung and LG that are first out of the blocks. Inspected up close, LG's 55-inch 55EA9800 (HK$80,000) isn't as curved as you might expect. The effect is slight, and although the images are entrancing, that's because they're displayed using an OLED panel, which boosts contrast almost immeasurably and eradicates blur and judder.

Video: Review for Samsung's curved OLED TV

The use of OLED explains the high price, as it does for Samsung's 55-inch KE55S9CSL (HK$70,000 - available in the US and Europe only), another curved OLED TV, but one with a much more attractive design that mimics an artist's easel.

First prize goes to Sony's 65-inch KDL-65S995A (HK$31,000, US only), which uses a standard LED panel and two large, deep "Multi-Angle Live Speakers" on either side that are packed with subwoofers. Forget the screen - it's the powerful, built-in and enveloping audio that makes the curved-TV concept one worth listening out for.


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