CES 2013: Ultra High Definition TVs Coming to Las Vegas

CEA predicts that Ultra High Definition (UHD) will be “prominently displayed” at the International CES. The surge in interest followed an International Telecommunication Union-led agreement on two UHDTV standards (effectively 4K and 8K). That occurred in August and since then the focus in the U.S. and the majority of countries looking at UHDTV has been on the 4K flavor (the main exception being NHK, which is developing its 8K Super Hi-Vision system).

In October, CEA said that it would define “Ultra HD” in consumer electronics as TVs, monitors and projectors for the home that have a display resolution of at least eight million active pixels, with at least 3,840 horizontally and at least 2,160 vertically; aspect ratio of at least 16 x 9; and at least one digital input capable of carrying and presenting native 4K format video from this input at full 3,840 x 2,160 resolution without relying solely on up-converting.

LG and Sony recently introduced early Ultra HD TVs for the home — 84-inch 4K LED displays with list prices in the $20,000-$25,000 range. Ultra HD displays at additional sizes and price points are expected to be unveiled at CES.

CEA projects that in 2013 the average wholesale price of a 4K TV will be $7,000; by 2014 the average wholesale price will drop to roughly $2,800; and by 2015 to an estimated average of $2,240. The association also predicts that 4K TV shipments (sales of units to dealers) will reach roughly 20,000 during 2013, then will jump to 190,000 units in 2014 and 1.3 million units in 2015.

With technologies such as Sony’s F65 camera on the market, some experimentation in 4K television production has started. But the bigger question may be how to deliver a steady stream of 4K content to homes. As a first step, Sony is offering on loan (to its 84-inch TV customers) a 4K Ultra HD Video Player, which for now is a hard drive loaded with 10 movies and some additional 4K content.

A compression scheme known as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) is in development to accommodate up to 8K.

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