Consumer Electronics & Appliance News, Reviews & Information.

Apr 12

4 future flat screen TV technologies we’re looking forward to

FlatscreenTV crystal ball

Call us now for a flat screen TV readin' (image by JasonLangheine, used under Creative Commons)

For the most part, I’m usually pretty content to allow myself to veg out in front of my top rated flat screen TV and watch a movie, or play a video game. But, every once in awhile, I like to take a moment and look past it.

No, not at the wall.

Into the future. The future of TVs, that is.

It’s time like these I like to dust off my crystal ball, adopt a fake jamaican accent, and throw out a few predictions on what the future holds for your top rated flat screen TVs.

More pixels! It must be 4K

Sharp's 8K TV at CES 2012

8K (wait, weren't we talking about 4K?)

If you thought 1080p was a big jump, wait until things get bigger. Okay, to be fair, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen 4K — Sharp even had an 8K model running during CES 2012, and many theaters already run their screens at 4K resolutions.

However, for those who couldn’t make it out to Vegas in January, or don’t quite have room for an actual 10-plex home theater, the idea is that you get better resolution because you’re getting 4x the pixel density.

Unfortunately, according to most reviewers, this just isn’t quite the case. Because of the way the human eye works, there’s a certain point where you just can’t see any more clarity on smaller screens (the cut-off point for these being around 55″).

So why am I still looking forward to higher pixel densities? Because of 3D flat screen TVs.

Currently 3D splits the resolution of your screen in half, giving you two lower quality HD images combined into one. With 4K, more pixels means more clarity for the two images, and it makes things like glasses-less 3D possible, which almost anyone would agree would be an incredible feature on a top rated flat screen TV.

Thinking thin with OLED

Much like pixel density, OLED is still very much in the realm of the now. If you’ve got a smart phone in your pocket, there’s a good chance you’re carrying around an OLED screen right now. Ultra-thin, this technology focuses on flexibility (literally), low power consumption, and low creation cost. They also boast the ability to display resolutions as good or better than current LCD and plasma technology.

So why aren’t they everywhere?

Up until about this year, the downside to OLED screens was scaling. It was difficult to get them to work correctly in larger screen sizes, leading them to mostly be used on phone screens or on TVs that were more novelty than necessity. Also, despite the potential for a lower cost, mass production facilities just haven’t existed for these types of displays.

That seems to be changing however. Both Samsung and LG introduced a 55″ OLED display that’s slated for a consumer release later this year. Many OLED screens can even be printed from a standard laserjet printer (although, demands on power and processing make this a less than ideal way to create them).

It’s also the technology to watch. As processors and power sources get thinner, it’s entirely possible that the next generation of top rated flat screen TVs will come in a can of paint.

TV talkback, it’s all about interactivity

Samsung UN46ES7500

It's hard to see, but this Samsung TV does have a camera on it. It's watching your every move.

Most top rated flat screen TVs are starting to move towards incorporating the internet and apps into their most basic offerings, giving you expanded options for content, letting you search through your various services, and even making recommendations based on what you’re watching.

Combine this with alternative control schemes, such as motion and voice control, and you’ve got a pretty strong start on interactivity. But for the most part, all these different technologies tend to be separate experiences, and only available in the best flat screen TVs.

The future for this type of interactivity may look very different. Rather than the interaction between you and your TV being passive (it watches what you watch, records what you want to see, downloads only the apps you tell it to download), it may be become very active, with top rated flat screen TVs not only giving suggestions on what to watch, but why you should be watching it. We may also be seeing finer control over what gets suggested. You can see some of the inklings of this sort of suggestion-based interactivity in things like your Netflix que, but as any frustrated watcher can attest, it’s not always horrible accurate for your tastes right now.

As for control, better processors will make it more accurate, and more natural. Your TV’s camera will be able to process finer movements, meaning you won’t have to make sweeping gestures to move your virtual cursors, and voice control will become more intuitive and conversational, and less command based.

Help me holographic TV, you’re my only hope

Star Wars Tupac

For many, this is the ideal future of holograms.

It’s hard to talk about the future of TV technology without talking a little bit about holographic TV. Whether it’s holographic princesses in Star Wars or holographic TVs in the Jetsons, it’s always on everyone’s mind.

Unfortunately, much like widely available flying cars and light sabers, it seems that this type of technology is likely very far in the future. Despite the appearance of the late Tupac with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog (which Wikipedia assures me is not actually a hologram, but something called (appropriately) Pepper’s Ghost), there are a few hurdles that need to be pushed through before this becomes a viable solution.

Only in the past two years has the ability to create an updatable holographic image even become possible, and while this discovery led fairly quickly to real time updatable images, manufacturing and equipment hurdles (most of this is done in a lab) keep this well outside the realm of our living room.

Is there any television technology you’re looking forward to? Or is your head still spinning with today’s tech? Tell us about it in the comments.

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