Beyond 3D: what’s next for flat TVs

Looking to the future for 3D and HDTV with Paul Gray
Jamie Carter
Jamie Carter -

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When the first plasma displays appeared in 1997 – from Fujitsu, Philips and Pioneer, they measured 42-inches, had a resolution of 852×480 pixels, and cost US$14,999.

Fourteen years later and we’ve seen HD ready, Full HD, apps, LED backlighting and two types of 3D.

So what’s next?

Have we reached the end of flat TV history, or is the innovation in the next 14 years going to be just as exciting?

Techwatch spoke to Paul Gray, Director of Europe TV Market Research at analysts DisplaySearch, about what’s coming down the technology pipeline.

What will TVs be like in 10 years?

They will continue their migration towards the role of ‘best screen in the house’.

They should be able to display seamlessly from mobile, personal and handheld devices, and consumers should be unaware of whether they are watching from broadcast, the internet or from storage.

Screens will be a little larger, but probably only 5-10” more than today – consumers have other constraints such as room size.

Will on-demand IPTV replace linear TV scheduling?

No, definitely not.

The social aspect of current programming remains potent and the internet infrastructure requires a couple more orders of magnitude of capacity yet.

But definitely there will be much more delivered by the internet and it will blend seamlessly with broadcast content if everyone does their job well.

What I fear most is that IPTV services are victims of their own success and the whole thing drowns in congestion.

Huge increases in capacity will have to be paid for, and this will limit adoption. Broadcast is cheap, effective and already paid for.

Will 4k2k resolutions ever hit the mass market?

They are coming in limited quantities later this year, but the question remains: exactly what is the value proposition of extra resolution? Will consumers pay significantly more for 4k2k programming over HD?

Definitely monitor and PC resolutions are due for increase as monitor screen sizes have grown.

How important is OLED, and when will it go mainstream?

We will see a couple of big brands go to OLED TV, if only to make life difficult for their competitors.

For mobile and battery-powered applications, OLED looks really attractive. For TV, the question is whether consumers will pay extra.

I’m not sure that OLED can be significantly thinner (5mm is probably a finite limit below which any TV is too fragile to be practicable) and with LCD already at 8mm I doubt if consumers care much about a little less.

OLED will cost more as it’s a new and immature technology, and LCD is not only really good, but it’s increasingly mature with most of the cost worked out of it. That’s a tough target.

How important is 3D multiview technology, and when are we likely to see effective glasses-free 3DTVs?

It looks as though the technology is around 5 years away, although there will be some flagship products earlier (Toshiba already sells small quantities in Japan).

So far 3D has not excited consumers particularly.

That won’t stop set makers shipping lots of 3D sets, but our direct consumer research (across 14 developed and emerging countries) has shown that consumers in mature markets are not particularly interested in 3D.

Most people don’t yet have HD beyond the USA and Japan, so 3D is a big stretch and many consumers see it as irrelevant.

Add declining sales of discs to the mix and consumers are struggling to see the point.

It will be very interesting to see the effect of true 3D games in the market – next year will hopefully see a lot of games releases.

Personally I really like 3D gaming, although 3D movies leave me cold.

Thank you Paul.

Thank you.

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