HD Guru 2013 Predictions 580 v3 copy

With 2012 behind us and surviving the end of the world (as according to the Mayan calendar), it is again time to  look forward. We’ve collected all our insider industry trends and tidbits to make 12 predictions for the New Year.

And for complete disclosure, we’ll begin with how we did with our 2012 predictions.

2012 Recap

Our prediction of the arrival of large screen OLEDs fell on its face. We predicted Samsung and LG would ship the first 55-Inch Organic Light Emitting Diode TV products. While both promised to deliver that screen size in 2012, neither did. We kept chasing the announcements including our LG coverage from Monaco, but alas production issues doomed the 2012 rollout. Industry insiders claim yields are only up to 30% of production after reworking the panels, not nearly enough for a release.

For those of you not familiar with OLED TV technology, here’s a recap:

OLED can produce high definition 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.”


Our prediction of more and bigger large screen HDTV offerings were spot-on. New large models were shipped in the US by Samsung (75-Inches), Vizio (70-Inches) Sharp (90-Inches), LG and Sony (84-Inches).

We blew it with our Apple iTV HDTV prediction. The key to seeing it in the future will be Apple’s ability to offer major TV networks streaming programming, and this did not come into fruition in 2012.

New Fangled Remotes with voice, gesture and/or motion control was completely accurate with offerings from LG and Samsung bundled with their HDTVs.

4K– A big yes with the arrival of a 84-Inch LG and Sony model. The only change is the industry settled on calling it Ultra High Definition TV or UHD TV instead of 4K. The resolution is the same as predicted at 4 times HDTV: 3840 x 2160

Glassesless 3D- Close but no cigar. Toshiba did produce and ship a model but only into the Japanese market.

Full resolution Passive 3D made it into the US with the arrival of the 84-Inch LG and Sony. We recently tested the LG and it looked marvelous. We’ll publish a review soon.

Gen3 Google TV missed it by a bit, LG recently announced 3rd Generation Google TV to ship as a 2013 model.

Another Major TV Brand Will Exit the Business- sad but correct, Mitsubishi announced a few weeks ago it is exiting the US TV business and marking the end of the rear projection HDTV category.

Best Buy Will Change the Way its Sell TVs, did not happen yet. However, its stock price down 59% from its 2012 peak, and the founder is working on a private takeover bid.

Small and Medium Screen Size HDTV Pricing Will Stabilize– happened with only slight price erosion of the under 40-Inch screens.


Onto our 2013 Predictions


1)  Large Screen OLED TVs Will Arrive. While production problems plagued the category in 2012 we’re doubling down predicting LG and Samsung will ship their respective units in 2013. However, we expect it to be more toward the end of the year than the beginning, giving them time to iron out the bugs. We stick our collective necks out further, expecting at least one more vendor will offer a large screen OLED in 2013.


2) LED LCD Screens Will Get Bigger– Forget about 84- and 90-inch models, plan to see multiple vendors offer screens breaking the current 90-inch size ceiling. Westinghouse just announced it will show a 110-inch UHD at CES and we expect to see others to show and offer bigger TVs for sale in 2013. They won’t come cheap but we do expect the over-65-inch market to grow with more screens at lower pricing. This will begin to put a dent in front projector market especially in the over $10K price range.


3) Plasma TV Will Survive. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the published reports of Panasonic killing plasma TV in 2013 have been greatly exaggerated. We believe all three vendors (LG, Samsung and Panasonic) will continue to build them and you may expect significant performance improvements from at least two out of the three suppliers.


4) More New Fangled Remote Controls. In 2012 Samsung introduced voice and gesture control along with face recognition. LG just announced a more sophisticated voice remote. Chinese vendor Haier demonstrated eye control during 2012. We predict a number of remote innovations will arrive in 2013 from various TV vendors.

Eye control promises to allow adjustment of functions such as speaker volume by simply moving your eyes. But be careful; if your spouse says something you find absurd don’t roll your eyes, as you may find your TV change to the adult channel.


5) UHD TV Smaller screens With Lower Prices. In 2012 UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution was only available as an 84-inch LG  and Sony for the one-percenter crowd, priced at $17,000 to $25,000. In 2013 expect to see UHD LED LCD TVs with screen sizes from 55-inch-inches and up at a fraction of the cost. Chinese LCD panel vendors are planning to begin selling UHD panels for TVs that may begin in the under $4,000 range toward the end of the year. Not exactly off the McDonalds dollar menu, but far closer to current top-end HDTV pricing.

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6) No UHD Disc Sources. Though we would love to see movies recorded on Blu-ray discs in the Ultra HD format with  four times the resolution, we do not expect the studios to consider it until sales of UHD TVs get into the millions of units. Marketing research companies don’t foresee consumers popping for a UHD TV upgrade for years. Due to the huge size of a UHD file, the only short term solution would be downloads stored on the TVs memory as there is simply too much bandwidth needed for streaming with current Internet connections. The film studios have resisted in the past, due to piracy concerns. Time will tell.


7) Built-in Cameras. This year we alerted readers to Samsung’s inclusion of a TV camera and microphones within a number of its TV series. In 2013 HD Guru expects more TV makers to incorporate HD cameras and microphones along with Internet connectivity for Skype video and facial recognition. We hope they also include a hard on/off switch as we don’t want to turn up on some hacker’s YouTube channel in our underwear (and neither do you).


8) Connected Everything. In 2012 we saw Blu-ray players and freestanding media centers provide streaming movies and other content via the Internet. In 2013 we predict you’ll be able to make your HDTV “Smart” with a soundbar, home theater in a box, a USB device and who knows what else. A coffee maker?


9) Better Viewing Angles from LED LCD. One of the weaknesses of LCD is limited viewing angle (vertical and/or horizontal). Panasonic broke the mold with the 2012 WT50. HD Guru predicts many more LED LCDs will have wider viewing angles (H &V) as a step-up feature in 2013.


10) A New HDMI Standard. Just when you thought it was safe to buy HDMI 1.4a compatible surround sound receiver or soundbar, look for a new HDMI standard probably called 2.0 to appear in 2013. While 1.4a handles 24 frame per second UHD signals, the new standard will handle far higher bandwidth for higher frame rates 48, 60 and maybe 120 Hz. If you upgrade to a HDMI 2.0 UHDTV, you’ll also need other 2.0 compatible components.

Right now the HDMI 1.4a standard includes 3D compatibility, Audio Return Channel and Ethernet. More HDMI 2.0 features would come as no surprise. Of course you will also need a 2.0 compatible HDMI cable to use them. Is it planned obsolescence or progress? You decide.


11) Apple’s iTV Will Appear. We are also doubling down on our iTV prediction as we still believe the heart of the system will be a number of TV networks available through Apple, finally allowing the average user to “cut the cord” and bypass cable or satellite receivers. Just getting rid of the antique cable box will be cause to celebrate.

Industry reports indicate Intel is working on a similar ecosystem for other TV makers, so we may see early competition. While we don’t believe Apple’s iTVs to bring new display technology like OLED, just expect more 2013 HDTV innovations like thinner depth and “borderless” screens, wider viewing angles,  a “new fangled” remote control and a very sophisticated user interface.


12) Best Buy Will Radically Change. With the company on the verge of a takeover offer by its founder, with it will come new ways for Best Buy to begin a new era. They must change the way they do business with a better trained staff, more competitive pricing and a new product mix to revive the chain. Best Buy recently added four Vizio models to its TV mix. However, unless they bring in other more profitable items to compete with Wal-mart and Target, clearly this does not help its bottom line. Vizio is  a very low margin product, and up to now they’ve been placed in retailers/etailers that don’t have high overhead (such as Amazon), or ones that make their profits on memberships (such as Sam’s Club). Wal-mart and Target can sell a low margin TV line to bring in customers for high profit food and clothing. 2013 is the year Best Buy will have to change for the better or go the way of Circuit City.


That wraps up our 2013 predictions. We wish all our readers a Happy and Healthy New Year.


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