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4K In Q4? Not Quite Ready For Primetime, Retailers Say

NEW YORK — While the CE industry is looking to Ultra High-Definition and OLED displays as TV’s sales salvation, the technologies are too new and the prices too high for mass consumption come Christmas.

That’s the consensus of dealers, distributors and buying group executives contacted by TWICE, who believe advanced TV sales will have little material impact this year.

“4K will require a couple of years and several price moves to become a major player,” observed NATM Buying Corp. president/executive director Bill Trawick. But in an otherwise flat TV market, “every little bit helps,” he said.

Jeff Davis, senior sales VP at D&H Distributing, said 4K looks great and is garnering a good deal of interest as prices start to come down, but agreed with Trawick that sticker shock remains a critical factor.

“Most models on the market thus far are still above the price point that the average person can afford,” he said. “This will inevitably change, but not in time for Black Friday.”

Distributor Fred Towns, president of New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games, noted that price isn’t the only barrier to fourth-quarter adoption. “For the bleeding-edge, sophisticated consumer, 4K will be in demand as a feature on their set,” he said. “But because of the lack of [native] 4K content in the industry right now, it won’t be a game changer.”

But Bob Cole, president of Bob & Ron’s World Wide Stereo, a Hatfield, Pa.-based premium A/V dealer and integrator/installer, has not completely dismissed the contribution of 4K in Q4.

“4K is a maybe,” he observed. “I think people are scared and they should be. We will be pushing them, though.”

The greater potential, he said, lies in OLED. That display technology “could be a game-changer and bring everything to a halt.”

Dave Workman, president/CEO of ProSource, Cole’s buying group, is also eagerly anticipating the impact of OLED, which he described as “the eventual real highres driver” and for which 4K is only “a setup play.”

In the meantime, he said, 4K, even in 55-inch display sizes, is priced too high for the holidays. “There will have to be some promotional activity; it would have to be more reasonably priced to drive the necessary cadence.”