Sony's New TV Could Put HD to Shame - If Anyone Buys It
High-definition TV has hit its stride, but already television makers like Sony want to usher in the next wave of ultra-sharp resolution. 4K a standard with four times the pixels of 1080p. Basically that means the viewer can sit closer to a larger TV without seeing individual pixels. But questions remain, including where viewers will need to go to get 4K content.
08/31/12 7:00 AM PT
Sony on Thursday showed off an 84-inch TV set with 4K resolution technology at the IFA consumer show in Germany.
The Sony set adheres to the 4K UHDTV standard, which is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels. It offers four times the number of pixels found in the 1080p HDTV standard, which measures 1,920 x 1,080.
"With 1080p passive 3D TV, the viewer sees 540 lines of resolution instead of the full 1,080," Michael Inouye, a senior analyst at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld. "With 4K users will get the full 1080p 3D image. Sony's TV will offer passive 3D."
Spec'ing Out the Behemoth
Sony's 84-inch TV incorporates the company's 4K X-Reality Pro super-resolution picture quality engine optimized for 4K TV. This can render content with different resolutions, such as HD digital broadcasts or Blu-ray disc content, into 4K images, the company said.
The TV has a 60-degree viewing angle, and the resolution allows users to sit quite close to the screen and still see clear images. "At 84 inches, the 4K resolution on this set allows for viewing images even close up, without degradation or pixilation," Sony spokesperson Rob Manfredo told TechNewsWorld.
"Some TV vendors have claimed that existing technology can help them make larger-screen TVs that only require the same viewing distance as current major TV models," Jia Wu, a research director at Strategy Analytics, remarked.
"We were standing one-and-a-half to two feet from the screen and the images looked really great," Sweta Dash, an analyst at IHS iSuppli who was at IFA, told TechNewsWorld. "Sony was showing Blu-ray content."
Owners will be able to access services from the Sony Entertainment Network through the TV.
Whatcha Gonna Show Me?
Will there be sufficient content for the Brava 4K TV?
"Content is a limiting factor," ABI's Inouye said. "There have been select demonstrations of 4K, Sony offers an upscaling 4K Blu-ray player and YouTube has a few videos in 4K, but aside from this, there's not much else."
Most movie content can be rendered on 4K TVs because 4K is equivalent to cinema-quality content, Strategy Analytics' Wu told TechNewsWorld. However, the format in which this content will be delivered has not yet been decided.
"There have been talks between the Blu-ray Disc Association and Sony and other vendors about compressing 4K content into Blu-ray discs," Wu continued. "But clearly the lack of 4K content will be an issue for the first few years."
Apart from content upscaled from HD footage from digital broadcasts or Blu-ray discs, "many digital cameras already photograph in 4K resolution or higher as standard," Sony's Manfredo stated. "We hope that the popularity of such a TV will help accelerate the development of more 4K content.
Who's Gonna Take You Home Tonight?
Sony's Brava 4K isn't the only, or even the first, 84-inch 4K TV set to be unveiled. Korea's LG launched the first device in this category last week. Toshiba is reportedly prepping its own 84-incher for release early next year.
But who's going to purchase what will undoubtedly be a very expensive TV set like this?
"The key question is, how much are consumers willing to pay for this superior experience," Strategy Analytics' Wu asked. "Before the price comes into an affordable range, these TVs will remain in a niche segment."