IF we see an Apple-branded HDTV (the rumored “iTV”) it probably won’t be a 4Kx2K model, but more than half a million 4K×2K TVs are forecast to ship worldwide this year, growing to more than seven million by 2016, according to the latest data from NPD DisplaySearch.
4Xx2K TVs are Ultra HD models — ultra-high definition sets with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (8.3 megapixels). 4K TVs have twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, with four times as many pixels overall. Only a few are on the market, including LG’s 84-inch 84LM960V (about US$29,000) and Sony’s KD-84X9005 (also 84-inches with a price of $25,000).
The 4K×2K trend was first seen at IFA 2012 and continued at the 2013 International CES, as TV manufacturers search for the next technology transition to attract consumers to upgrade their current TVs. The display industry is racing to launch more 4K×2K screen sizes and to mobilize production in larger volumes, with even OLED 4Kx2K sets being demonstrated.
Sony, LG, Samsung, and Sharp are all moving forward with this technology, along with other Japanese brands, the six leading Chinese brands, and value-oriented brands such as Vizio and Funai. In addition to vertical integration by the major players, merchant panel suppliers such as AUO and Innolux are working with several manufacturers on 4K×2K. Initial efforts in test broadcasting and standardization are also underway.
“The efforts throughout the supply chain for 4K×2K have begun to align,” says Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics Research for NPD DisplaySearch. “Panel makers are producing 4K×2K screen sizes ranging from 50-110”, and there is also a push to increase TV content. The availability of content is key to consumer adoption of 4K×2K TVs, and TV manufacturers are anxious to prevent any potential delays that could stall adoption, as was the case with 3DTVs.”
As a result, investments are beginning to ensure that 4K×2K content is readily available to consumer, he adds. Several announcements about proprietary 4K×2K streaming and download services were made at CES; however, satellite and cable services from established providers will take some time.
China is forecast to lead in demand for 4K×2K TVs, with shipments forecast to grow from 333,000 in 2013 to more than 2.6 million in 2016. North America is forecast to follow, with just over 2 million forecast to ship in 2016.
“Initially, we expect to see the highest 4K×2K adoption in China, Japan and Western Europe, as these regions typically prefer the latest highly-featured products,” says Gray. “On the other hand, North American consumers are generally more likely to delay purchases of new technology, like 4K×2K, until prices fall. However, because demand is heavily skewed towards large screens in this market, there is a significant opportunity.”