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Mega-res telly demand to boom, say ball-gazers

Ultra HD TV demand will start slow... then explode

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CES 2013 If the world’s television makers are eager enough to try to convince World+Dog to buy a 4K x 2K TV, the world’s market watchers are no less keen to suggest the proponents of Ultra HD will be successful in the near future, with sales rocketing five years from now.

This week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas will undoubtedly see all the major TV manufacturers set out their Ultra HD wares, and DisplaySearch and Strategy Analytics (SA) have chipped in with predictions detailing how those sets will sell over the coming years.

SA cautiously reckons Ultra HD TV shipments - both LCD and OLED - will pass the million mark in 2015, while DisplaySearch bullishly expects that milestone to be beaten - and then some - the year before. DisplaySearch reckons more than two million LCD UHDTVs will ship in 2014, rising to 4.7 million in 2015 and on to just over seven million the year after. If OLED technology quickly goes 4K x 2K, the total number of UHDTVs shipping that year could be more than 14 million.

SA extends its forecast further: shipments will pass 50 million by 2020 when more than 130 million households worldwide - but mostly in the US, Western Europe, Japan and China - will own a UHDTV, up from ten million in 2016.

The slow start comes from the high, “more or less unaffordable” price of UHDTVs, notes SA. The explosion in shipments will follow, naturally enough, when prices plunge below $2,000 (£1,230) as manufacturers begin to pump out more and more sets through the coming five years.

Content will come more slowly, and may not come via broadband for some time yet, the researcher suggests. More pixels mean more data needs to be shifted per second, but don’t underestimate the ability of codec writers to devise even more efficient ways of squeezing much larger images through barely wider pipes.

Of course, UHD will remain a minority interest for a good few years yet. World TV shipments are widely expected to have totalled 205-210 million units in 2012, and DisplaySearch reckons they will rise to more than 260 million by 2016. If this and its other predictions prove accurate, that means no more than 5.4 per cent of the TVs that ship globally in 2016 will be 4K x 2K capable.

SA says the UHDTV market will be dominated by “jumbo-sized displays” of 60-100 inches or more: 80-inch and over displays will account for 26 per cent of global sales in 2020, and 60- to 79-inch displays will account for 61 per cent. ®

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