- The HCE Video Series
A former colleague of mine recently reminded his readers (in what I think was a jab aimed at me) that I once famously said, “the industry isn’t going to sell 4K, 50-inches at a time.” What he was referring to was a comment I made following this past January’s CES show in Las Vegas, where UltraHD/4K was on full display -though mostly via one-off displays that no real consumer will ever own. The more realistic UltraHD/4K displays were of the 50 and 60 inch varieties. While UltraHD/4K sets were hardly scarce, details regarding pricing and availability were. Moreover, in my experience, from practical viewing distances when conducting true head-to-head comparisons between HD and UltraHD/4K displays, the difference in quality turned out to be negligible. It was a combination of both my personal experience with UltraHD/4K up to that point, plus my experience at CES that lead me to make the comments that I did. I don’t regret my statement, as I still believe, all things but resolution being equal, the real differences between UltraHD/4K and HD are not night and day. That being said, I couldn’t have foreseen the Seiki SE50UY04 50-inch UltraHD/4K LED display. Nor could I have predicted its sub $1,500 price point.
There is a way that one can sell UltraHD/4K to the masses -even with screen sizes less than say 60 inches. You make UltraHD/4K’s presence irrelevant. What I mean by this is simple; if the difference in price between HD and UltraHD/4K is negligible at best, why not then pop for 4K? That is what Seiki has done with their new 50-inch display and their soon to be released 60 or 65-inch UltraHD/4K models too. Now, we don’t know just how good (or bad) the Seiki is, but let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it’s good. Maybe not great, but better than average; in line with the likes of say Vizio, Toshiba, Westinghouse, Hisense and more. At roughly $1,500 the Seiki UltraHD/4K display falls under the realm of affordability and is priced within the scope of a lot of 50-inch HD displays. At its price, size and availability the Seiki becomes viable, and not because it is an UltraHD/4K display. The fact that it is an UltraHD/4K only serves to “enhance” its proposed value. Assuming Seiki performs well.
Many of you have been asking a lot about UltraHD/4K content, specifically when you can expect to see some. That answer proves to be more elusive than OLED. But, again, at less than $1,500 the lack of content becomes irrelevant -in my opinion. You see it’s one thing to want content when you’ve just shelled out $5,000 or more on an UltraHD/4K display, which is what Sony is projected to charge for their 50 and 60 plus inch displays, but at $1,500? You might find you’re more patient. Plus, with the recent news out of NAB this year, specifically the announcement of Blackmagic’s 4K Production Cinema Camera for $3,995, early 4K content may not even come by way of the studios, but rather users like yourself. While some of you may be envisioning a YouTube like wasteland of 4K kitten videos, I don’t believe that will be the case. If anything, you’ll start to see a groundswell of quality independent films shot at true D-Cinema quality available to you directly. Why? Because of products like the Seiki and Blackmagic Production Camera lowering the barrier to entry across the board. Five years ago -hell, last year -4K was a “rich man’s game.” Now it belongs to everyone.
Expect the costs of adopting UltraHD/4K to drop and quickly, for it’s a buyers’ market and while many of the established brands may try and charge their usual fares -it won’t last. Since the dawn of Vizio -for better or worse -displays are now purchased on price and size; the largest display for the least amount of money typically wins. While the Seiki at 50-inches isn’t larger than life, the fact that for many, on paper, it appears no different than Sony, Samsung or whomever’s UltraHD/4K offerings, its price will arguably win the day. I know my last statement isn’t going to win me any favors over at Sony, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It’s only a matter of time before others will simply have to get down in the mud and wrestle in the pits of low prices. Vizio understands this, so does Westinghouse, Dynex and others. Hell, even Panasonic and Sharp know this. Much like 3D, UltraHD/4K will soon be something you just “get.” And that’s okay, for that my friends is how you sell UltraHD/4K 50-inches at a time.
As always I thank you all so much for reading. Until next time, take care and stay tuned…
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