Why The Future of Television Isn’t Doomed
The growing popularity of handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones means that the classic TV screen is no longer the technology king it once was. Once upon a time, the TV was a necessity when it came to enjoying our favourite shows. Now, however, it’s not always even an immediate choice.
Thanks to mobile TV services like Sky Go and Virgin Media’s TV Anywhere, as well as online streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm and Netflix, people are no longer tied to the family box back at home. TV can be watched from almost anywhere, and at the viewer’s complete convenience.
It is only natural, then, that we start to question whether televisions still retain a practical purpose in our lives, and a place in the electronics industry overall. Many people are even now considering throwing out their TVs (along with all the channels they don’t watch) and save money on a TV license by grabbing their media fix online. For how can TVs realistically survive when their once high value has been compromised?
Hold that thought for just one moment, as we take a look into some of the reasons why TV most certainly is not dead yet. Despite the progressively crowded market with which TV manufacturers are being forced to compete, there are some pretty intriguing innovations lined up for 2014 that have the potential to restore the iconic role of the humble television to our living rooms.
Curved TV Screens
Both Samsung and LG – developers of the flexible smartphones we’ve been promised for 2014, have since decided to take their stylistic approach and apply it to televisions as well. The announcements came suspiciously one after the other (LG first, followed closely by Samsung) when both companies declared they will possibly be unveiling their efforts at CES 2014.
Whilst many of us are still no doubt questioning the notion of a curved, bendable smartphone, the concept does admittedly seem to lend itself a little better to the television. Each screen will be a whopping 105 inches, with Samsung promising an 11 million pixel resolution, 2:19 aspect ratio, and the ability to control the screen’s bends remotely to formulate better viewing angles. LG’s offering is much the same, but the LG giant has replaced its previous OLED approach with an awaited LED LCD, and its model features extra backlighting across the curve.
And of course, its highly likely that each of the tech tycoons’ new creations will be ready to supply 4K UHD TV, when the time comes around (see below).
4K Ultra HD TV
Although Ultra HD TV (UHD) has been coming into the foray for a while now in industry terms, its been missing that other something that’s needed in order to make it what it is. Apparently, that something is 4K, a digital enhancement that is undoubtedly changing not only distribution technology, but also the way in which programmes are being produced. By delivering a resolution that is four times greater than your typical 1080 Full HD, 4K UHD provides a altogether smoother image and a greater texture of detail and nuances. Major broadcasters like BBC and Sky are busy at work on a range of possible tweaks to their filming approach, such as larger frame rates, greater contrast and a wider colour spectrum. (Just imagine what this could bring to the daily news…)
4K is a derivation of the 4K digital camera standard that enables photographers to capture those astoundingly stunning details, and isn’t likely to pass off as a momentary diversion like 3D TV. All 4K UHD TVs are in excess of 50 inches (there’s less value to be had on a smaller screen) and Sony is currently in the process of producing 4K models of UHD projectors, allowing us to potentially turn our living rooms into home cinemas.
We can also look forward to the creation of more 4K native content as the technology becomes more profound, no doubt via YouTube, pay-TV suppliers like Sky and Virgin Media, and Mastered In 4K blu rays, which are already in production.
Smart Television is the concept of using our TVs to enjoy content and online services that were initially only available via smartphone, laptop or tablet. This has already become a significant advancement this year, with the arrival of the Spotify app and a Netflix channel on Virgin Media’s television services, and the ability to access one’s YouTube channel from the comfort of the couch.
However, clearly this is not where the capabilities of smart television ends. It is likely we will see all other major pay-TV providers such as Sky and BT systematically start to integrate online apps into their programming, and merge with other content providers to eliminate competition. Google are reportedly keen on the idea of people using Android smartphone and tablet apps on their TVs, whilst Samsung is boasting it will use its own work-in-progress operating platform, Tizen.
Whilst its lovely to see potential for TV providers and streaming services to play nicely together, we can’t help but wonder what this will mean for the television. It is possible that the TV may simply become yet another online device like every other. But if this is to be the case, we can at least be sure it will be one that is central to the family home, retaining pride of place above that communally used iPad resting on your coffee table.