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4K To Gobble OLED: Analysts

By Oonagh Reidy | Thursday | 07/03/2013

3D, HD, Apps: TVs getting smarter but pricey 4K will outshine OLED

More than one of four television sets shipped in 2012 was a smart TV with Internet-connection, and will account for 50% of sets shipped by 2015, according to analysts IHS.

Shipments of smart TVs hit 66 million units in 2012, up 30% on 2011.

But forget 3D, we're now seeing a shift towards Ultra High Definition (UHD) or 4K resolution, and IHS forecasts UHD TVs will be "well ahead" of OLED TVs until 2017, Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer, TV Systems analyst told SmartHouse.

This is despite Ultra HD TVs, which are four times the res of a regular HD TV, being pricier than OLED TVs.

Ultra HD TVs are already sold in Oz from LG and Sony retailing at $18K and $25K respectively, but Samsung is soon to join the 4K race in OZ this year, as is Panasonic, as all the major TV makers bet both ways on visual technology's Next Big Thing.

"We're seeing a shift in the focus of manufacturers from 3D towards 4K, under the industry standardized name of Ultra HD (UHD), proven by the numerous models displayed and announcements made from almost every TV manufacturer at CES, " says Gonzalez-Thayer.

Samsung showed off its 85" Ultra HD TV with LED backpanel at Jakarta last week, LED high end panels, as well as other Smart technology including Evolution kits (a small box that updates last year models to 2013 technology) and OnTV, which recognises users' viewing patterns, and promised innovative new apps from banking to gaming.

The Samsung 85 inch UHD TV is currently available for 40 million won in Korea (roughly $AU36,000), while  Samsung's 55 inch OLED television will be available shortly here for a yet unknown price.

But prices of UHD TVs, which range from 55"-110" displays are soon to come tumbling down, Gonzalez-Thayer told SmartHouse.

The problems analysts have linked to 4K, such as the lack of 4K-ready content and high prices, soon won't be an issue, says the the Texas-based TV analyst.

"Demonstrations of up-scaling technology for UHD TVs prove that lack of native 4K content may not be such a problem after all"

"High retail price will remain the biggest adoption-inhibitor" she warns but adds: "price pressure from smaller TV brands will bring the average-selling-prices down faster."

As for the main drivers of Smart TVs, Internet-connectivity is now standard on high-end sets, and increasingly being added to mid-end televisions.

The preference for smart TVs, video streaming services like FetchTV and apps from the likes of ABC iView, Foxtel, and Yahoo Plus 7 catchup TV service, announced this week, is "creating a shift in consumer purchase behaviour," says IHS.

Declining prices and increased TV model line-up from brands are expected to drive the majority of the growth for smart TVs.

On the much hyped Google TV platform, IHS didn't have any figures or predictions, but one senior TV exec in Australia recently told SmartHouse the platform, soon to be available on HiSense and TCL TVs, "could make a splash in the next 12 months," but says "it will be a case of wait and see."

A lot of existing TV services have YouTube already so how Google will change it will be an issue as will content, as the Internet giant like Apple and Co, all have to negotiate with content providers and TV networks.

"People have been talking about Google TV for 5 years, but is still hasn't happened" the TV exec said.

Google TV, only available on Sony in Oz, has made some improvements since launched, adding voice search and a new TV guide called "PrimeTime .."however, this has yet to resonate with consumers," say IHS. 

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