Cheaper ultra HD TVs to boost sales

Cheaper ultra HD TVs to boost sales
Attendees photograph the Sony Bravia X900C 4K TV, which is only 0.2 inches (4.9mm) thick - thinner than a Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone - at the Sony press conference at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada January 5, 2015.

LAS VEGAS - After several years of sluggish sales, television makers are pegging growth hopes on new technologies that deliver a more immersive and interactive experience, and realistic displays.

As new TV sets were unveiled at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, it was clear that so-called 4K ultra high-definition or ultra HD TVs are gaining traction with consumers amid lower prices.

TV makers including LG, Sony, Sharp and Samsung have recently announced new models.

Such 4K TV sets offer images four times sharper than those for existing full HD sets.

"We have seen 4K televisions in the past few years, but this certainly marks the year of them becoming affordable and much of the premium over high-definition vanishing," Reticle Research principal analyst Ross Rubin told AFP.

He saw 4K as a major trend at CES, and expected prices for some well-known brands to drop below US$1,000 (S$1,300), eliminating the edge HD TVs have with budget-minded consumers.

"It comes down to price," the analyst said, dismissing concerns that a lack of 4K films or shows will discourage buyers. "Once the price premium over HD disappears, there will be a certain level of television where the only option will be 4K."

The global market for big-screen TVs is rebounding as consumers replace their flat-screen devices that hit the market a decade ago, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which organises the annual event in Las Vegas.

The ultra HD market saw fewer than one million units sold in 2013, with the figure growing to 9.3 million last year and sales projected at 23.3 million this year, it said.

The market for 4K has been held back in recent years by high prices, and a lack of content available in the format. But in recent weeks, Netflix and Amazon said they would deliver more 4K programmes.

Even so, some were not convinced that consumers would flock to get ultra HD TVs.

Said Forrester analyst James McQuivey: "In a world where people are content to watch movies on mobile phones, trying to push TVs into higher and higher levels of quality is solving a problem viewers don't have."

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