A lack of standards and content is holding back sales of 4k television sets and, until that situation changes, there is very little the consumer electronics business can do about it, writes Peter Savage
Since the late 1960s and early 70s, when we began to ditch our old black and white TV sets in favour of new fangled colour ones, TV viewers have been prepared to upgrade to the latest and greatest displays almost as soon as the price point matched their budget.
To date, the subsequent excuses for waves of conspicuous consumer spending have included 16:9 widescreen, HD, surround sound and smart TVs, to name but a few.
Stereo 3D failed miserably and 2K received only a muted response. 4k, on the other hand, has (thus far) scarcely raised the pulse rate of all but the most diehard TV technophile. Why?
The first 4k TVs were big. Seriously, how many of us in this country can fit an 84-inch flat screen into our living rooms? But that is the size you need if you want to really appreciate the improved picture quality. Oh, and they cost about twenty grand.
There have been numerous publicity campaigns from consumer electronics manufacturers trumpeting the new formats resolution, which is four times that of standard HD, offering a total of 8,000,000 pixels, up from the 2,000,000 pixels of HD. But they often concentrate solely on resolution.
Ultra High Definition (UHD), which can incorporate 4k, can also include higher frame rate (for smoother motion), high dynamic range (HDR) and better colour depth. It could be argued that it is these elements that really make the difference to the viewing experience, not simply more pixels.
But, either way, without any content, were at an impasse.
While some TV shows are shot in 4k, or higher, for artistic or future-proofing reasons, in order to launch actual UHD channels, broadcasters have to spend serious amounts of dough on 4k-capable infrastructure and receivers - to get pictures into our homes and onto our TV sets. They will only do that when they are convinced that their investment is going to last.