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CES 2015: Are 4K televisions the latest in must-have TV tech?

By Chris Elliott

Today’s shopper is presented with a bewildering number of options when buying a new TV. They can choose from LED or OLED, Smart or Standard, 3D, curved, and then there’s the resolution to consider.

Consumers who desire the very best viewing experience can opt to purchase the latest 4K UHD TV’s.

First introduced to the US market in 2012, 4K televisions initially cost upwards of $20,000.

However, in 2014 the price dropped significantly making them attainable for millions of shoppers. The standard screen size also reduced from the initial 88 inch sets to more living room friendly 40 inch models.

Footballers and celebrities need not fret though as Chinese company TCL displayed its new 110 inch UHD curved 4K television at the 2015 International CES. The set also offered 3D without requiring the viewer to don a pair of 3D glasses. This could revive the fortunes of 3D TV technology which has widely been branded a gimmick.

TCL unveils 'record-breaking' 110-inch 4K TV at CES 2015

CES 2015 also saw LG announce it was investing $600 million in OLED 4k television technology – OLED offers more vibrant colours than traditional LCD displays. Not to be outdone, Samsung announced its new television technology, SUHD TV. Employing quantum dot technology, SUHD TV, when used in LCD displays, gives higher peak brightness, better colour accuracy and improved battery life for mobile devices. Amazon are using quantum dot technology in its Kindle Fire HDX range and Sony, LG and TCL all have quantum dot TVs on the market.

Quantum dot technology delivers sharper contrasts, more accurate colour and brighter images

Samsung and LG also displayed their latest 8K televisions, measuring in at 110 inches and 98 inches respectively. Currently the smallest 8K television is 85 inches and with the first 8K broadcast planned for 2020, to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics.

Comparatively, there are currently no 4K television broadcasts, although it was tested throughout FIFA World Cup 2014 matches. Industry analysts predict that 4K broadcasts will be aired in Europe between 2016 and 2018.

YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix do now provide 4K content, such as series ‘Transparent’ and ‘House of Cards’, as well as a number of Sony Pictures films. However, the ultra high definition video media requires a strong, fast internet connection and Netflix users must subscribe to an $11.99 a month ‘family’ plan.

According to Victor Matsuda, Chairman of the Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee, 4K Blu-ray movies will start to be released in 2015 and Panasonic demoed its 4K Blu-ray player at CES 2015.

Given the large investment by TV manufacturers and content providers, it looks like 4K technology is here to stay. However its popularity will likely hinge on what content will be available and how quickly 4K television broadcasts are implemented.

Brand View has reviewed the current 4K television range offered by US retailers Best Buy, Target and Walmart and can reveal most TVs in these retailers are 55 inches, closely followed by 65 inch sets. The smallest 4K television offered is manufactured by Seiki and available from Target. At 85 inches, Best Buy sell the largest TVs, and Samsung have the most expensive product on the market at $39,999.98.

Size of 4k TVs in Best Buy, Target and Walmart
Samsung TV

Brand View has also reviewed the range of 4K televisions available in UK retailers Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Tesco Direct.

In July 2013, Currys and John Lewis started selling a 55 and 65 inch Sony Bravia 4K TV for £3,999.99 and £5,999.99 respectively. Since then the number of 4K TVs on the market has increased 30 fold and the two Sony Bravia TV’s have halved in price.

The average price of 4K televisions peaked in October 2013 when Currys started stocking an 85 inch Samsung television for £34,999.99 which they continue to sell today. However, despite this the average price of 4K televisions is £3,235, predominantly due to the introduction of smaller, lower cost products.

Number and average shelf price of 4K TVs in Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Tesco Direct

Reviewing the size of 4K TVs in the UK, a trend similar to the US market is evident, with 55 and 65 inch televisions being the most commonly stocked. However the average size of a 4K TV in the UK market is 60 inches this is seven inches less than the US average of 67 inches. This is due to UK retailers selling more TVs below 45 inches and less above 65 inches.

Size of 4K TVs in Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Tesco Direct

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