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Can UHD TVs accomplish what 3D TVs failed to do?

Posted: 23 May 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3D TV? UHD TV? OLED?

According to IHS, TV panel makers are projecting a high rate of growth for Ultra-High Definition (UHD) LCD TVs in the next four years. They are looking to ship nearly 943,000 UHD LCD panels this year, up from less than 33,000 units in 2012. Given this, the industry expects that UHD TVs will breathe new life to the market, something 3D TVs failed to do.

The total rises much higher when including a type of lower-priced, lower-specification product called "UHD Ready," panels, which mainly are targeted at the Chinese market. Suppliers collectively plan to ship as many as four million UHD Ready panels this year alone.

"A few years ago, 3D TV came onto the market with tremendous hype and promise to transform how people watch TV," said Sweta Dash, senior director of display research and strategy at IHS. "This promise never came to fruition. Instead, faced with a lack of content, high pricing and inconvenient technology, 3D never emerged from a niche statusa situation that continues today."

Many now predict the same fate for UHD TV.

"However, having learned from past mistakes, TV suppliers are gearing up to make UHD TV a success, determined not to repeat the mistakes they made with 3D. However, the level of consumer demand for UHD is still not clear. Lower yields, higher costs, slower TV sales, lack of content and delays in production all will lead to lower shipments than many in the industry expect."

When 3D debuted, brands touted the technology as a fundamental shift on the scale of moving to colour from black-and-white. It also provided hope for brands to differentiate their products, to gain a competitive advantage and to increase profitability.

However, the reality of 3D TV did not meet these high expectations. The poor adoption rate of 3D was a wakeup call for major TV brands, forcing them to shift strategy away from focusing on selling 3D TV sets to selling 3D TV capability as an added feature.

Brands also learned they could not charge a price premium for 3D. This changed the adoption rate, and by the end of 2012, only about 20 per cent of all LCD TVs sold had 3D capability, stated IHS.

The market for 3D TVs faced three major obstacles when it launched: content, price and technology. Even with 3D popular in cinema thanks to movies such as "Avatar," there was simply not enough 3D content for TVs. 3D TV also doubled the price premium of regular sets, and in perhaps the most significant obstacle of all, required consumers to change their viewing behaviour by wearing a pair of glasses. For all these reasons, 3D adoption stalled.

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