Following the death of 3D TV, the future of high-end televisions lies in the advancement of new display panel technology.
While LCD panels have proven remarkably adaptable and remain a popular choice among TV manufacturers, emerging technologies such as OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) panels could overtake traditional displays and allow for higher resolutions, better refresh rates, and more colours.
While various mid-range consumer TVs still use LCD panels with a resolution of 1080p, TV manufacturers seized the chance to show off bold new designs at CES 2017 – including ultra-thin displays and UHD TVs with 8K resolutions.
If the potential capabilities of these new technologies are anything to go by, here’s what you can expect from your TV in the future.
HDR and better colour
Display quality is increasing, with hardware evolving to deliver stable framerates at higher resolutions, better colour ranges, and improved image quality.
The latest generation of gaming consoles all feature support for HDR displays and manufacturers have been quick to build support for HDR into new UHD TVs.
HDR – high dynamic range – is a standard which encompasses a number of factors, including contrast ratio, brightness, and colour range.
There are a number of HDR standards present on the market, though, and different manufacturers comply with different standards.
This means that one HDR TV you buy may have a smaller colour range and lower contrast ratio than a different HDR TV.
However, as more displays begin to support HDR, these standards should become uniform across the industry.
Higher resolution and refresh rate support
The resolution and refresh rates of modern TVs are continuously improving, but the interface between the display and hardware must evolve to support greater bandwidth demands.
The new HDMI 2.1 specification supports greater resolutions and refresh rates than its predecessors, thanks to its increased bandwidth capacity.
This improved specification also adds support for Dynamic HDR and variable refresh rate, allowing for improvements in picture quality in addition to better resolutions.
HDMI 2.1 supports up to 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.
LG recently unveiled its 2.57mm-thick UHD HDR TVs.
The thin width of these displays is partly due to the fact that they use OLED panels – an increasingly common move among high-end TV makers.
Unlike LCD panels, OLED displays do not require a backlight, making them much thinner while delivering a better contrast range.
The advantages of OLED panels over conventional LCD TVs come at a price, currently, with OLED sets more expensive than LCD panels.
Thinner, lighter displays will become more popular once the prices start to decrease.
As graphics processing hardware becomes more powerful and the consumer’s average supported resolution increases, 4K (or UHD) should become the standard display resolution of the future.
An advantage of commonplace 4K displays would be increased HDR support, as UHD panels have a wider colour gamut.
Streaming services such as Netflix have already added support for 4K video.