The real problem with 4K TVs: Where would we put them?
With consumers shunning 3D TVs, the industry is pinning its hopes on 4K, which quadruples the on-screen pixel count. But do consumers have space for 4K TV sets in their hearts, minds, and living rooms?
It wouldn't be CES week if we didn't have a lot of chatter about the piece of consumer electronics that dominates most living rooms -- the TV. This year 4K TVs -- that is, sets with a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 -- is all the rage.
4K is seen by the TV industry as the next big thing, and the logical follow-on to high-definition 1080p. 4K has roughly four -times the pixels of 1080p, and, in theory, can delivery a much better image.
The TV industry likes the sound of 4K because it means selling consumers a new TV to replace their 1080p TV. People don't buy new TVs as regularly as they buy a smartphone or tablet, so anything that helps drive sales is seen as a good thing. As the industry realises that 3D is dead, 4K is the only new trick they have to offer at present.
To see the benefit of 4K consumers needs screens that are larger than those found on their paltry HD-ready 1080p TVs, ideally in the region on 50- to 55-inches or bigger.
While there's no doubt a market for 4K TVs, it feels like a niche market, and is likely to have far less appeal than HD-ready TVs did. People making the switch from standard definition to high definition not only got a picture that was noticeably better, they got cool -- and useful -- features such as HDMI ports. While the picture quality of 4K displays is better, the difference compared to 1080p is small, and most will be hard pressed to see an improvement even under ideal conditions. Marginal improvements are unlikely to drive up sales.
My prediction is that the industry is going to have a hard time convincing people that they need -- or even have the room -- for 4K in their lives.