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4K vs OLED Skirmishes on Horizon

4K vs OLED Skirmishes on Horizon
  • The CEDIA trade show and conference is right around the corner– just over a month away. Whether or not you work on the “residential” market side (AV for the home– home theater or home automation), just like the CES show in January the CEDIA is always a window on where display technology is going. Including how much the “consumer” TV and video processing and video accessory innovations on the consumer AV side will impact pro AV including digital signage.

Sony showed their prototype 4K OLED flat panel at InfoComm in June. The Sony product was not shipping when showed at InfoComm. And the OLED now shipping from LG and Samsung are 1080P not 4K.

We’ve already made the switch as to what tail wags what dog in the AV and display industry: the era when the latest technical innovations came to pro video and pro AV first the trickled down to consumer side, is history. With twelve year old boys playing video games on HD flat panels at home and 11 year old girls texting each other on smartphones with OLED displays, you don’t have to do the math. The Display market for the consumer delivers 100 customers for every one pro video or proAV customer.

Wonder why all the major flat panel display makers, save one, are touting 4K LCD displays for the pro AV market? One reason is that they are spectacular. But another reason is that they are all making 4K displays for a possible surge in demand for 4K among home TV viewers. When they ramp up the big LCD panel factories for the consumer TV market, viola, the resulting economies of scale mean hello pro AV 4K.

As could have been predicted, the one major flat panel maker who did not show 4K LCD panels at InfoComm in June was NEC? Why? Because NEC unlike all the other flat panel makers is not in the consumer TV market. NEC is, in terms of flat panel displays, is all commercial market, all the time. NEC will of course launch 4K LCD for pro AV, but they’re not pressured by their own consumer-side managers to do so, since they have no such managers.

There is so much going on in the world of flat panel displays alone– not to mention video projectors, that CEDIA is going to be very interesting. While the top flat panel manufacturers no long exhibit with their own booths at CEDIA, we'll see these and other 4K issues all over CEDIA.

As we get ready to head to Denver, LG has been shipping OLED TV’s for a few weeks. The OLED TV’s from Samsung are shipping starting this past Monday. There was media buzz this week about the Samsung feature that lets two people watch different programs simultaneously (with glasses that as in 3D viewing isolate two different images on the screen and separate them out). Remember, unlike new UltraHD LCD TV’s from many makers, the new OLED from LG and Samsung is 1080P, not 4K. (With the new “marriage saver”, dual program-watching feature in use, do you get only half-HD resolution per eye?) Regardless, OLED has such a high contrast ratio index, it looks nice in any resolution. The interesting question: is OLED is setting up as a foil to 4K?

Here comes CEDIA, and we could see the start of a horse race: 4K, vs. OLED for flat panels. (Unless you’re Sony, that has both in one unit– but alas Sony’s unit is only a prototype.)

Note, an Emerging Trends webinar, today, August 15th at 1pm eastern will focus on many of the new products being released at CEDIA EXPO in September. Members of the CEDIA Technology Council will host the webinar and provide perspective on new products. Registration:

David Keene is a publishing executive and editorial leader with extensive business development and content marketing experience for top industry players on all sides of the media divide: publishers, brands, and service providers. Keene is the former content director of Digital Signage Magazine.