UHDTV, designed to deliver video with four times the resolution of current HDTV will be hyped, dissected and debated at the CES this week.
Third, UHDTV is the ultimate video toy for the “1 percent” of Americans. Call it Romneyvision, UHDTV will remain a plaything for the rich in the foreseeable future. Kumu Puri, senior executive with Accenture’s electronics and high-tech group, noted, “With an estimated $20,000 price tag, Ultra HDTV sets may be too expensive for mass-market consumption, especially when you consider that this ultra high-definition content is not yet commercially available.” Did she say “may be”?
She added that “market momentum will likely wait until consumers become more familiar with the technology, manufacturers reduce prices, and content providers embrace the format.”
But ultimately, here is one good reason why Ultra HDTV is a non-starter. UHDTV is an all-industry push. CE companies are looking for ways to secure margins for their flat-panel TVs. They desperately need so-called “value add” for their money-losing TV business.
They’ve tried Internet TV, 3-D and Google TV. The latest gimmick is UHDTV. Consumers don’t buy products out of compassion for overextended companies trying to save their businesses.
There is, however, one ray of hope. A great picture is hard to resist. Said Joseph Del Rio, associate product line director at Broadcom, “Ask any sales guy at Best Buy. When consumers come to a store and see the wall of pictures, the best picture always wins.” Resolution beats 3-D, and it beats smart TV.
Asked whether the U.S. cable industry is prepared for 4K x 2K content distribution, Del Rio responded: “Don’t underestimate the U.S. cable guys.” The cable industry is already getting ready for DOCSIS 3.0, IP packet protocol over cable, featuring channel bonding. The channel bonding, enabling multiple downstream and upstream channels to be used together at the same time by a single subscriber, can also dynamically change its rate, anywhere from 20 to 40 Megabits per second (Mbps). “This will allow cable guys to offer the high-bandwidth content on demand.”
But whether or not the cable industry is ready for UHDTV, Chris Day, vice president of marketing and business development, at Ambarella, Inc., predicted that 4K content materials may become first available on the Internet. Ambarella believes its upcoming chips are designed to “drive 4K into mainstream consumer market.”