Despite their high price and the lack of native content, Ultra High Definition Televisions appear to be catching on much faster than expected.
According to research from Digitimes, shipments of UHD TV displays are expected to hit between 3.5 million and 4 million this year.
Innolux, one of three manufacturers the publication spoke to, claims it is aiming to ship between 2-3 million screens in 2013. Its output alone is higher than initial predictions for total shipments over the course of this year. The Consulmer Electronics Association's own analyst, Steve Koenig pegged sales at a very conservative 1.4 million in the US by 2016.
However, despite the obstacles, reports have emerged over recent months that in Japan and South Korea at least, the initial, extremely large, extremely expensive 84-inch TVs have not struggled to find a market. In January, LG claimed that it had only taken four months to sell over 300 of its flagship $22,000 84-inch UHD TVs in South Korea alone.
The new standard within a few years?
The news follows a Sony briefing on April 23 where the company -- which has invested heavily in the UHD format as a filmmaker, broadcaster and TV manufacturer -- claimed the technology is being adopted at a much faster rate than even it had predicted. Talking to Pocket Lint, Chris Cookson, president of technology at Sony Pictures said: "I've always felt that there was an inevitability that screen resolution would increase and that the size of the image that people seek out will get bigger and that, as it gets bigger, 2K (1080p) isn't quite enough," he added. "I would have guessed [that would happen] a couple of years from now. But, if you look at where we are, we are ahead of that."
In fact, Cookson believes that within a "couple of years" 4K UHD technology could be just as popular as HD TVs are today. "I think once the larger sized screens are available in 4K then it will be as hard to find a 1080p large display as it is today a 720p large screen, which just a few years ago was the standard for what we classed as Hi-def. It's exciting times," he said.
In the interview, Cookson also revealed that interest in the technology is just as great with broadcasters and filmmakers as it is with consumers.
Ultra-high definition technology, sometimes called 4K offers a resolution up to four times greater than that of existing HD TVs due to the fact that they have four times as many pixels when measured horizontally across the screen. And while the viewing experience can indeed be breathtaking, there is very little native content available that can do the technology justice. UHD TVs can "rescale" HD content to fill the screen and artificially increase resolution but this upscaling feature can only serve as a stopgap until UHD content is easier to distribute and receive.