Latest in TVs: Much higher definition, and prices

September 3, 2012 by Mike Snider

Get ready for a whole new case of TV envy. In stores later this year will be new big-screens, known as 4K TVs, that up the ante on HDTV with four times the resolution of sets now.

Prices expected to be $20,000 or so will limit 4K sets initially to the well-heeled. "Like the very early days of HDTV, with those kinds of it will likely take up to 10 years to build any kind of ," says Myra Moore, president of Digital Tech Consulting.

But setmakers are counting on 4K to jump-start the - after years of falling prices and profits. DTC expects TV sales to be about flat in the near term, with 1 percent growth this year and 2 percent in 2013, even with 4K.

Sony said Wednesday that it will join the fray with a Bravia 84-inch XBR-X900 4K LED TV this year.

The 4K label is from the nearly 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution (3,840 by 2,160), or more than 8 million pixels total. Current HDTVs offer up to 1,920 by 1,080 resolution, or more than 2 million pixels.

The 4K allows pristine video, even on very large displays. "The quality, the depth and color of the picture, it really is amazing," says Phil Molyneux, Sony Electronics' COO.

The 84-incher is Sony's largest TV. It has 10 built-in speakers and also delivers 3-D video viewable with cheaper, lighter passive 3-D glasses. One European retailer has priced it at 25,000 euros (about $31,000).

Rival showed an 84-inch 4K display this year at the and announced last week that it will go on sale in next month for the equivalent of about $22,000.

LG and Sony will announce U.S. pricing and dates next week at a home tech show in Indianapolis.

Initially, there will be little 4K content to take full advantage of the set. But Sony's set will be able to upscale video from a source such as a to near-4K quality.

Sony, which has 4K in more than 12,500 U.S. , has a 4K camera and home projector on sale as well.

Also, classic films are being remastered for 4K and some TV series, including CBS' "Made in Jersey," are being shot in 4K.

So was the Taylor Swift video "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together."

But until the 4K content pipeline is flush, "we will be on the 'classic chicken-and-egg timetable' with 4K sets," Moore said.

Explore further: Sony to sell ultra-HD '4K' TV set in US stores (Update)

Related Stories

A TV 4 times sharper than HD

April 26, 2012

Now that you've got a high-definition TV, you may want to start saving up for a super-high-definition one.

Epson's new 4K panel for 3LCD projectors

November 10, 2009

( -- Seiko Epson Corporation has announced the world's first 4K panel for 3LCD (liquid crystal display) projectors. The panel will enable the projectors to produce a bright image of 4096 x 2160 pixels resolution ...

Is everything really better in 3-D?

April 29, 2010

From its heyday in the 1950s to its current resurgence, 3-D technology has gone from a cinematic gimmick to a box-office gold mine. James Cameron’s Avatar, heralded for its creation of a three-dimensional fantasy world, ...

Perfect projections on surfaces of any shape

August 29, 2007

Projecting brilliantly sharp images as a single picture onto curved surfaces has previously been a very elaborate and expensive process. Now a new software system automatically calibrates the projectors needed so that the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

February 20, 2018

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 03, 2012
i don't understand the massive price increase? is it due to pixel density and video output circuits? also what is the minimum size screen for 4k? i know its about 20 inch for 1080p/1080i
3 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2012
At 720p, pixel density is already higher than most people can discern at realistic distances... Let alone 1080p -- 4K is a silly gimmick designed to keep the Jones' buying new stuff.
2 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2012
bcode is correct, you really can't see that much difference, if any. And one will need 2x's the storage medium so only 1/2 as many movie storage. Just hype to sperate fools from their money. I do like the $200 32'' TV's now on sale is fine for me, most.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2012
People still watch TV? They actually schedule their lives around sitting behind a dumbed-down monitor, instead of watching on demand?
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2012
There is a pink elefant in the room, and everbody pretends that it is not there: color reproduction of monitors covers less than half of what humans can percieve.

It is not just that we have a higher resolution in the low color intensities - due to the logarithmic response of the eye - than what each 8-bit primary color can show, but our cones actually let us discern a wider range of colors.

Making screens that can cover more colors would entail more primary colors. No TV-maker wants to make this technological jump, since there are no cameras that support this. In fact, there are no - to my knowledge - commercial CCD-chips that have more than 3 primary colors.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2012
Not only that you don't see any difference at a realistic distance and TV size, there is no program available that supports that quality and this will not change in the near future.
Many TV channels even don't support HD in the best possible quality today.
There are also just a hand full of cameras and lenses that can capture movies in that resolution.
Bandwidth limits and storage capacities are an additional issue.

It is wasted money!
not rated yet Sep 04, 2012

I'm hoping it will rub of into normal screens.. Let me explain:

I'm sitting in front of a 23 inch screen with 1440x900 pixels resolution at a distance of appr. 0.6 meters. I see the black lines between the pixels in the white areas, and the jagged edges - dispite anti-alizing - of the rounded corners. I am sure I would appreciate at least twice the resolution, i.e. 6 Megapixels.

With a slightly larger screen, (30% larger surface), I would need at least 8 Megapixels. And while we are at it, why not get a screen that actually has a better resolution than what I can resolve with my eyes? Then we are talking about resolutions in the range of 10-15 Megapixels.

Don't beleive me? Just a few months ago, there was an article here at physorg about a small screen with ~450 dpi, that viewers found more comfortable when reading compared to 300 dpi. That would translate to ~70 Megapixels for a 27 inch monitor.. There is still a good way to go when it comes to screens..

3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2012
They provide access to your wallet.

"i don't understand the massive price increase?" - Bowler
3 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2012
I haven't watched TV in 12 years.

When TV took a big down turn in the 80's due to Republican Mismanagement I started to tune out. Then 12 years ago with the rise of truly anti-social TV - Faux and fake "reality" based shows, I tuned out completely.

The TV was picked up and put outside where it sat for 2 years being rained and snowed upon.

I valued the 3 cubic feet of air more than the crap programming.

"People still watch TV?" - Kochevnik
4 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2012
Again, the average resolving power of the eye is roughly 83 DPI-meters so if your sofa is 3 meters away from the television, your resolving power at the screen is roughly 28 DPI.

For a 4K television to make sense at that distance, it would need to be 6 ft tall and 11 ft wide, for a screen size of 150" or quite literally the size of a movie screen.

For workstation purposes, at a distance of 0.6m the ideal size for a 4K screen would be 15x24" or 28".

All the sizes are calculated by taking into account the Nyquist limit only: any real detail in a picture needs at least two lines. In reality there's also the Kell factor which deals with phase errors near the limit, so no real video material will actually contain real information at 4K. More like 1.5K
not rated yet Sep 04, 2012
People still watch TV?

Agreed. There's nothing on worth watching. Additionally I have developed an allergy to advertisements. I just can't stand them anymore - not even passively if the TV/radio is on in the next room. (And an interruption in a movie by an ad would ruin it for me)

For the occasional DVD I prefer a beamer. Gets you that cinema-feeling at a tenth of the price of similar sized flatscreen TV.
not rated yet Sep 04, 2012
It just feels like the marketing gimmick du jour for some group of electronic entertainment device manufacturers, rather than an actual revolutionary change in technology.
Programming producers aren't going to largely produce compatible material unless there is a big demand for it (and by charging a premium for the sets, manufacturers are ensuring there will never be a big demand). Nor will cable companies be willing to sacrifice 2 (worst case four) existing HD channels to accommodate a single channel of this 4K HD material.

Maybe what manufacturers should do is manufacture sets that can show dozens of channels simultaneously (including time shift capability on each individual channel). Multitasking, brought to TV.
2.7 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2012

I simply do not beleive that the resolution power of the eye is 83 DPI-meters. The screen I am in front of has ~72 dpi, and I can resolve the black lines between the pixels, which indicates that resolve much more than that.

The "retinal" screens on Iphone has - correct me if I am wrong - ~300 dpi. At a viewing distance of - say - 0.5 meters, this would be completely unecessary if you were right. Do you see a difference between an Iphone screen and one with half the resolution? I do.

Recently, a japanese company (sorry! cannot find the link) made a screen for handheld devices that had an even higher resolution than the "retinal" screen of Apple. The bases were trials where people found it more comfortable reading at this resolution than at 300 dpi (!).

So, regardless of what optical trick the eye uses, clearly we (or at least I) would benefit from higher resolution screens. Of course, it may be that we do not have the same resolution when watching moving pictures.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2012
I simply do not beleive that the resolution power of the eye is 83 DPI-meters.

The average angular resolving power of the eye is roughly one minute of arc, which is 1/60th of a degree. Project that over 1 meters and you get a spot tan(1/60 deg) ~ 2.9e-4 m in size. Divide 25.4e-3 m (an inch) by that number and you get 87.3 DPI-m.

You would therefore need to be 1.2 meters or four feet from the screen to barely recognize an individual pixel if the screen resolution is 72 DPI.

Per Nyqvist-Shannon, to deliver a perfect picture, the resolution needs to be at least twice that, because on a pixelated monitor, for an arbitrary picture, no single pixel in itself is meaningful. That is because you cannot encode information into a signal at more than half the sampling rate.

The Kell factor demands a further reduction in detail to prevent artifacts from phase differences between the pixel grid and the image source, so the actual detail is roughly 2.2 - 2.9 times less than the resolution.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2012
People still watch TV?

Agreed. There's nothing on worth watching.

I mostly watch documentaries on Netflix nowadays.

All of you saying you can't tell the difference between 1280x720 and 1920x1080... I don't know is wrong with you, I can tell the difference immediately on any reasonably sized monitor (32" approx.)

Oh, and one more thing, if you are making a distinction between a television and a computer monitor you are living in the past, all modern displays that aren't garbage serve as both.
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2012
Replicating the senses, for example, adaptive optics or acoustics, will dispense altogether with these intermediate, necessary, and primitive (in hindsight),attempts and endeavors to enhance or mimic nature.

Maybe this is just USA TODAY's way to regain the greatest circulation from the Wall Street Journal again.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2012
What that means is, that if you take a photograph - and we assume it is much higher in resolution than the monitor - and display it on the monitor, the computer must blur the photo until its smallest individual features are 2-3 times larger than the pixels on the monitor. Anything smaller simply gets smeared out and dissapears.

If you didn't, you'd get artifacts like jagged edges and wavy brick walls and picket fences, or powerlines that are cut into floating pieces and vanish in mid-air.

So, to be able to show the perfect picture, the monitor must have a resolution that is 2-3 times what the human eye can resolve at that particular viewing distance.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2012

Ok, so if we assume 2-3 times higher than 72 dpi, you would end up with 216 dpi at one meter. At 0.5 meters, one would need about 430 dpi. This is aproximately - if I remember correctly - the resolution of the exceptional screen I was referring to above. It would seem that we are agreeing..

At ~400 dpi, you would need ~50 million pixels for a 27 inch screen. It would seems that even 4k is far below what we can appreciate..
1 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2012
Right, 4k is only 4096x3072, or 12.5m pixels. That's not THAT high of a resolution... that's only 74dpi across a 55" display... I sit about 4ft back from my TV/monitor and can see "jaggies" on diagonal lines at 1920x1080, which tells me that clearly there is room for improvement.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.