HD Guru’s 2012 HDTV Predictions
With 2011 now in the history books, it’s time again to look forward to new HD home theater products. We’ve collected all our inside industry clues and trends to make 12 predictions for the HDTVs in the New Year.
And so you know we’re honest, we’ll begin with how we did on last year’s predictions.
Our 2011 predictions lead with a forecast of lower priced 3D TVs and this came true in spades with significant price drops of all 3D sets with a number large screens breaking the sub-$1000 and even the sub $800 price level. 2D sets also dropped significantly, bringing historically the lowest prices ever such as 40-Inch LCDs for $299.
We correctly predicted new active 3D eyewear from vendors. Samsung, also as we predicted, switched away from infrared to RF sync.
We forecast larger than 70-Inch LCD panels and we were spot on with the introduction of Sharp’s 80-Inch LED LCD TV, although the first model was not 3D as we expected.
3D picture quality improved substantially, as we wrote. Passive 3D grew also as expected with TVs from LG
,Vizio, Toshiba and some no-name vendors as well. We missed the mark on Full HD active passive and it looks like that technology may not appear soon.
Plasma TVs got thinner in depth with skinnier bezels and better black level performance. LED LCD performance improved as we figured with the debut of the Elite by Sharp TVs.
We blew it on the new LCD panel tech predictions, with all companies carrying over their 2010 panel technology designs. Connected TV market penetration exploded with this feature appearing on many major manufacturers lines with the exception of entry level models. The technology also migrated to Blu-ray disc players and new freestanding boxes.
The number of Blu-ray 3D Discs increased exponentially, with over 150 titles now available. Samsung launched a 3D streaming site on its connected TVs too. Cable and satellite did not keep pace with any new 3D channels in 2011.
Onto 2012 predictions
1) 2012 will be the most significant year in TV display technology in 15 years! 1997 was the year Fujitsu introduced the world’s first large-screen flat-panel display, a 42″ 480p plasma TV. In 2012 LG and Samsung will introduce the revolutionary OLED HDTV technology in the 55″ screen size. OLED can produce high defintion images that outperform the best LED LCDs and plasmas. The most significant improvement is in contrast, which happens to be the most important characteristic for top image quality. Unlike any current plasma or LED LCD, the OLED can completely shut-off light emissions on a per-pixel basis. The result, in theory, is an infinite contrast ratio. However, marketing guys like numbers so you will see them in 80,000,000:1 range or higher. This improvement will be immediately noticeable in a dark viewing environment, but not in a store like Best Buy that’s lit like a Christmas tree.
In addition to perfect jet-black blacks against bright whites and vibrant colors, the OLEDs have other fine performance attributes. Motion blur is non-existent due to a response time measured in fractions of a microsecond (millionths of a second). By comparison, LED LCDs are measured in the number of milliseconds (thousandths of a second)
OLEDs are emissive displays, like plasmas and CRTs. Because of this, OLEDs have a near perfect 180 degree viewing angle without the color shift or contrast reduction seen on every LCD and LED LCD.
OLEDs have the thinnest form factor of any display technology. Look for depths of 4mm (3/16th of an inch) or less. That does create one problem, no room for the required power supply, tuner, and TV circuitry, so expect a separate box for inputs, switching and probably speakers.
OLED are by far the greenest TVs ever designed. We expect power consumption to be around one-half of the current large screen LED LCDs perhaps using a little as a 50 watt light bulb.
We predict LG and Samsung will ship 55-inch 3D ready product in the US in 2012. According to industry sources, Panasonic is converting one of its LCD plants into an OLED panel factory, although we are not certain its products will arrive in 2012. Sharp and Sony are also developing large screen OLED, though we don’t yet know when they will arrive to our shores.
Bigger is Better
2) According to a recent survey by NPD DisplaySearch, US consumers prefer bigger screens to smaller Internet streaming or 3D capable TVs. We predict the industry will respond with many 70-inch and larger sets for 2012. LG just announced an 84-incher (pictured below), and we expect even bigger, perhaps hitting or breaking the 90-inch class. A wide variety of vendors will offer TVs with 70-inch or larger screens, including some of the lesser-name brands like Vizio and Westinghouse. Others will join in along with the top-tier name-brand companies.
The Connected TV Evolution
3) While all the top-selling brands are currently offering Internet-connected TVs with streaming and apps, the rumored Apple iTV will launch in 2012, and will take Smart TVs to the next level. HD Guru predicts Apple will provide the biggest and widest selection of TV programming, giving consumers the first real opportunity to “cut the cable.”
The missing link on Smart TVs has been limited selection of TV programs that mimic the networks current fare. We see this product as the launching pad for streaming services that directly compete against cable and satellite.
We also predict cable companies will respond by charging consumers an additional “pay per bit” fee on top of the cost of Internet service if one should drop their cable service.
New Fangled Remote Controls
4) Look for remotes from a number of TV makers that will use voice, gestures, motion or other ways to better control the display device. LG has already announced its Magic Motion remote will incorporate voice control in select 2012 models. We expect the Apple iTV to take TV control functions where no set has gone before.
5) A number of the major TV makers will begin to offer large screens with resolutions four times HDTV (3840 x 2160). Standard and high definition will be internally upconverted to 4K resolution. Based on demonstrations we’ve seen,we have big doubts most consumers will see a significant difference between current high definition and SD upconverted programs, especially if the screen is less than 80-inches diagonal.
6) The number of 3D disc titles will grow by well over 100% in 2012, with the arrival of more movies and new 3D-based content. Expect to see more 3D sports programs including the first NFL games and limited amounts of the Summer Olympics. More content will become available via Internet streaming as well. We predict the sports will renew interest in the format.
7) First generation glassless 3D will arrive. We expect it will include eye tracking allowing a limited number of viewers to sit anywhere in the room and see the 3D effect. These sets will be top-of-the line LED LCDs, with 4K screens, Internet streaming and a long list of features .
Full Resolution Passive 3D
8) LG is on board, and we expect three or more other companies to offer 4K HDTVs that include passive 3D technology that uses the same lightweight cheap glasses as you get in many movie theaters. While all current passive HDTVs provide half the vertical resolution of active 3D HDTVs, the 4Ks will maintain Full HD resolution. We expect these TVs to be in the 60-inch and larger category.
Gen 3 Google TV
9) If you don’t succeed, try, try, again. The third iteration of Google TV will gain good reviews from reporters and consumers as a number major set makers begin to offer HDTVs that use its Internet platform. The TV makers will remain leery, given Google TVs poor track record in Sony TVs, their Blu-ray player and the Logitech Revue all of which failed in the marketplace in 2011. All TV companies offering the Google platform will sell it as a separate line of products rather than across the board to hedge their bets.
Another Major TV Brand Will Exit the Business
10) 2011 will go down as the year TV makers lost more money than ever before. We’ve already seen serious consolidation and dropouts with JVC selling its TV brand name to Taiwanese company AmTRAN in 2011. Sony’s recent announcement of the sale of its share of their joint LCD panel plant venture to partner Samsung is only the beginning. We predict at least one major TV brand will pull the plug on the US market in 2012 either with a complete exit or selling their name to a Chinese TV manufacturer.
Best Buy Will Change the Way It Sells TVs
11) Best Buy’s formula of large stores and non-commissioned TV salesman has resulted in it increasingly becoming Amazon’s showroom. This cannot and will not continue… but not as you might think. We boldly predict Best Buy will get rid of its TV sales staff and follow the Wal-Mart model of “grab-and-go.” Consumers grab the TV, pay, and go out the exit door. Salesman will become stock clerks as Best Buy changes into a more competitive warehouse/online retailer model by revamping the TV department into a self service type of operation. A number of its larger stores will be divided up or closed to cut costs in an effort to return to profitability.
Small and Medium Screen HDTV Prices Will Stabilize
12) The days of price erosion in the under-40-inch category will end as market demand picks up and the world economy stabilizes. TV makers can no longer afford to lose a billion or more dollars a year. The larger screens will continue to get cheaper with 60-inch models selling for the price of 2011 50-to-55-inch models, 70-inch product going for the price of 2011 60-to-65-inch product etc. All three remaining plasma makers (LG, Panasonic and Samsung) will continue to support the format with more emphasis on the larger screen models and product improvements as OLED sets will be very expensive for the next couple of years.
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