Earlier this year the Consumer Electronics Show,aka CES 2017, was held in Las Vegas. All the big manufacturers were there, as well as some new kids on the block, and they all had major announcements to make. These announcements laid the foundation for new technology that will be making their way into your living room, hopefully within the next year or two.
In the coming year you can expect manufacturers to start mass producing TVs that are much thinner that what we’re accustomed to, TVs that are more modular, and TVs that have the pixels packed in thereby making 4K resolution the norm rather than the exception. Last year I jumped on the 4K bandwagon with a Samsung SUHD TV and 4K coverage by Rogers and I haven’t looked back since.
For the second season in a row Sportsnet will be showing all 81 of the Toronto Blue Jays home games in fabulous 4K starting on April 11th. For those of you who want to join me on the 4K bandwagon (you should, you really should) all you need is a 4K TV and a Rogers 4K set-top box.
Here are some of the trends in the 4K world to look out for in the coming year.
OLED For The Masses
Last year HDR was the sexy acronym that was used when describing the new TVs but pretty soon we’ll have OLED, organic light emitting diode. LG was once the only manufacturer in the OLED game but this year all the other major manufactures have jumped on the band wagon. Samsung, who leads the pack in smartphone OLED screens, will be coming out with QLED. According to their press release, these new QLED screens will feature truly black levels, perfect colour representations and will also significantly reduce reflections. Another advantage is that regardless of the angle that someone is sitting they’ll have consistent colour and picture quality.
When A TV Is More Than A TV
In my opinion the biggest story I’ve seen this year about new technology in TVs has come from LG when they announced their Signature 4K OLED W series. The W stands for ‘wallpaper’ and refers to the thinness of the actual TV screen. The screen is a 4K HDR OLED panel that is just 2.57 millimeters thick. Let me let you process that for a second, you read it correctly, I said 2.57 MILLIMETERS. LG is able to achieve this by making their TV a two piece system. First is the droolworthy 4K OLED screen and the second piece is a Dolby Atmos soundbar which houses the TV’s HDMI inputs, and so on. So how can a TV be more than a TV? When it’s an LG 4K OLED TV then it’s a work of art.
Speaking of art, Samsung isn’t too far behind LG and their Wallpaper sets with their new Lifestyle TV. This new television never turns off. Basically it’s a display that’s a TV when you need to watch TV but when you turn off the TV feature it turns into a piece of art or big digital picture frame. You can see this Lifestyle TV in action at the Samsung booth at CES 2017 from earlier this year.
The Chinese Are Coming
Chinese companies are bringing new lineups of 4K TVs all hoping to break into the North American market and compete with the big brands like LG, Samsung and Sony.
Hisense is the top selling TV brand in China and they’ve started introducing seven lines of value-priced 4K TVs. Hisense acquired Sharp a little while back and invested significantly in Sharp’s Mexican factory with a goal of producing up to 3 million TVs per year. This is their largest TV production base outside of China.
Another company that you may not have heard of is LeEco. This company who is known as the “Netflix of China” acquired Vizio, the biggest US maker of TVs, last year for $2 billion. LeEco’s concept is similar to LG’s W series in which they presented modular TV sets. Basically you get a screen and a soundbar that houses the guts of the TV. The thinking is that when the customer is ready to upgrade they can replace the screen or the soundbar.
This modular approach to TVs is also being embraced by Xiaomi in it’s new line of ultra-thin TVs. They’re best known for their smartphones but now they’ve decided to venture into the television market. Their Mi TV 4 is just 4.9MM thick and will come in three sizes, 49, 55 and 65 inches.
These are just a few of the TV related items things that has piqued my interest thus far for 2017. The good news is as more and more competitors come into the market picture quality will ultimately get better and prices will get lower which is a win-win for the customer.