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TV Makers Woo Internet Generation With Super High-Definition Models

Bigger, more beautiful and better connected: At CES, the annual trade show which kicked off on Tuesday in Las Vegas, television makers flaunted top-notch models meant to lure a generation weaned on the internet.

LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony and others touted the visual grandeur of new 8K super high-definition screens, which are suited for TVs larger than 65 inches in diameter, a fast-growing segment of the market.

The luxury sets are meant to appeal to millennials and Generation Z consumer with features such as streaming video services, plus smart home and video game capabilities.

Samsung’s Sero TV, for example, pivots from landscape to portrait modes, the same way a smartphone or tablet lets a viewer flip a screen while watching a YouTube video, eliminating the black bands on the side.

“Screens have become lifestyle products,” said J H Han, president of Samsung’s visual display business. “It has never been so clear that the role of the screen is changing right before our very eyes.”

The newer TV sets go beyond the current 4K or ultra-high definition displays – already an upgrade from the first generation of flat panels – to 8K, with more pixels for the massive screens now becoming popular.

Rich 8K definition is meant to woo owners of huge flat screens, by packing more colour to fill larger viewing areas. Networks and content creators alike are beginning to come together to cater to viewers with such screens.

Samsung, for example, is working with YouTube and other partners to stream 8K content directly to its most expensive TVs, according to Joe Stinziano, executive vice-president at Samsung Electronics America.

He predicted 2020 would be a “tipping point” for 8K going mainstream.

Skyworth, a well-established TV maker in China, unveiled premium models meant to break into the US and European markets.

“Only when the whole industry works together can it realise the full value of 8K to users,” said Skyworth TV chief executive Tony Wang. “The entire 8K industry chain is reaching its full development and now is the best time to launch an 8K screen, when users can fully benefit from it.”

The Chinese company’s new 75-inch Q91, with 8K graphics, will be priced at US$5,999 (S$8100) in the US.

To stay in the race, the new generation of TVs are also adapting to connected lifestyles by integrating voice assistants from Amazon.com, Google or Apple, and offering functionalities adapted to streaming platforms and video gaming.

The latest models presented at CES included advanced technical characteristics in terms of graphics and sound capabilities to satisfy gamers eager for greater immersion.

“A unique growth engine for our business has been gaming monitors,” Stinziano of Samsung said.

Millennials see a TV as a tool to help them win video games, according to TCL executives who showed off an enhanced line-up boasting features aimed at players.

Still, demand for flat-panel displays fell short of expectations last year in the consumer market partly because of the trade tensions between China and the US as well as a slowing global economy, according to IHS Markit.

But it forecast “robust growth” of flat-panel displays this year.

“Although there are still uncertainties due to the trade war between the US and China, demand for flat-panel displays is expected to increase on the back of historically low panel prices and the impact of various sports events held during even-numbered years,” said IHS Markit Technology display research director Ricky Park.

Such events include Japan public broadcaster NHK’s plans to show the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 8K, which is expected to help boost demand for the advanced TV screens.―Asia One

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