The technology sometimes referred to as “Ultra HD” provides extraordinarily vivid images — sets offer four times the resolution of a conventional HDTV — and was all the rage at recent industry shows including CES and The Cable Show. But ordinary consumers probably won’t share executives’ enthusiasm according to a report today from Bernstein Research. Analysts there say that 4K TV viewers would have to sit uncomfortably close to the set to appreciate the extra pixels. Studios and networks, many of whom are still licking their wounds from the premature rush to 3D TV, also are dragging their feet. “The networks have no plans to drive consumer interest/awareness through content (and promotion of that content). That leaves all the marketing/promotion in the hands of the manufacturers, and makes one question the rate of adoption,” the report says. And pay TV distributors, who control most TV viewing in the U.S., see 4K as a bandwidth hog. “Most operators are more worried about delivering speeds for HD, let alone 4K,” the Bernstein analysts conclude. “What will drive the consumer to “need” a 4K set? It’s not so they watch the Super Bowl in 4K (although they can show off to their friends and still watch the up-converted picture). Unless consumers decide the upconverted 4K picture is substantially better than standard HD, worth many thousands of dollars, then for quite some time the main consumer driver will be ‘future proofing’. We question how many consumers will spend many thousands of dollars to future proof against something they’ve never heard of — especially anyone who was burned by purchasing a 3D set.”
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