By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
SAN FRANCISCO — “The Future Of Display Tech- nologies” will be centered around 4K, 8K and OLED, according to panelists at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Fall Forum panel held here in Oc- tober.
Gary Yacoubian, president/CEO and managing partner of Specialty Technologies/SV Sound, mod- erated a panel with John Taylor, VP government and public relations for LG Electronics; Chris Chinnock, president of Inside Media; Alfred Poor, writer for HDTV Almanac; and Michael Hack, senior VP/general man- ager of OLED for Universal Light.
The panel was held a couple of days before the CEA’s board of industry leaders approved its 4K work- ing group’s term “Ultra High-Definition” for 4K resolu- tion.
Taylor began by reflecting, saying that when one looks at 4K or 8K displays “one would never believe we went from CRT to flat panels, from analog to digital in such a short time.”
He added, “I personally believe 4K is the next big thing, as big a move as from standard analog to digital HDTV, but we have to help consumers and retailers understand what the next big thing really is. Consum- ers need to see the benefits.”
Hack noted that OLED has been around since the late 1980s, but got a big push in 2009 with cellphones since “Samsung did not have an LCD business, [so] it championed OLED in phones, in its Galaxy series.”
He said that Samsung and LG are now in a battle to come up with large screen OLED TVs, but are both using different approaches. “By 2013 we’ll have OLED in the market, but prices will be high, and volumes will be low.” He did not predict when OLED will open up into the broader mass market.
Poor noted that large-screen OLED TVs will be “sexy as hell. They will be as thick as the thickness of two credit cards.”
Taylor added, “The color is something you’ve never seen before and the thickness will be sexy.”
Poor noted that OLEDs use “fewer raw materi- als than [LCD panels], and you can be packed and shipped more inexpensively than LCD. Pricing can be worked out eventually.”
Taylor was bullish on OLED, saying, “Unit sales could be 50K the first year, 500K the second and maybe 13 million the fourth year. It is possible.”
The issue then turned to 4K and 8K formats and whether OLED could be put to the task to make those formats come to the mar- ket quicker.
Hack said OLED reacts quicker than LCD for 4K and 8K with “little image blur … it would be a natural. You could make it with plastic [vs. glass] and it would be a better display than LCD.”
Poor noted that OLED will “lower en- ergy consumption” compared with LCD. “OLED as a green story will be more im- portant going forward.”
Taylor predicted that 4K is “a game changer … a dramatic improvement. When you see it, 4K becomes an as- pirational purchase. It will drive people into stores … and they will see other technologies there, which help retail- ers.” However, he noted, “content is not there yet, so in the short term 4K [will be] an up-converted medium, a niche product ... that still provides wonderful pictures.”
Chinnock agreed, saying that 4K content “is being mastered now, but we don’t have the HDMI connections, Blu-ray or broadcast content yet. But up-converted, it still looks absolutely in- credible.”
Taylor inserted some marketplace reality into the conversation, saying, “4K will be a niche product early on for $15K, $20K a set. But as prices come down and screens get larger, the aver- age household will have 4K. And in the next four to five years there will be Blu- ray and broadcast content from satellite and cable providers.”
He added that while online retailing will continue to be vital in TV sales, “re- tail demonstrations are needed, they need to see the technology with their own two eyes. Four of five consumers do research before they buy any CE product. Retailers must have a highly trained staff to sell such high-end dis- plays, to explain the benefits. You can’t just put it in a grocery cart and go home. It must be installed with an upscale au- dio system. Online is important, but brick-and-mortar is most important.”
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