CNET On 4K & OLED TVs

CNET’s “The Next Big Thing” is a brand new show. They recently did an interesting segment on the coming wave of 4K/Ultra-HDTV and OLED display technologies. Even though I don’t entirely agree with some of their conclusions it’s not a bad primer on the subjects. It’s well worth the few minutes that it takes to give it a look.

 

I’ve long held that OLED in particular holds great potential. The picture quality offered by OLED can be outstanding. So much so that Sony has offered a line of professional OLED displays, even winning a Technical EMMY in 2012.

Priced at a whopping $26K, the BVME250A is the 25” model at the top of Sony’s present Trimaster EL lineup. In 2011 it won the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Award.

Most people don’t really understand how difficult it was for the post-production industry to transition away from CRT-based displays. Nonetheless, vacuum-tube CRTs were destined to be retired due to evolving hazardous materials rules. A single CRT can contain 4-8 pounds of lead!

For a time there had been some hope that “Field Emission Displays” aka FED would come to market and offer a new standard for reference displays. FED and SED, a related technology, both use phosphorus like CRTs, but excited using an array of electron emitters. Literally every dot has it’s own electron source. Their similarity to CRTs in theory allowed them to be used in critical reference applications. Sadly, patent & licensing games between companies have kept FEDs from being manufactured.

Reference monitors, like those of the Sony BVM Series, cost a fortune but they provide reference quality imagery. In a color-correction suite or editing room you need at least one absolutely accurate monitor. For the longest time LCD-based displays simply didn’t provide the same kind of image gamut and consistency.

LCD image purity eventually advanced to the point of utility, but OLEDs are capable of performance well beyond anything previously available. As advances in HDMI specifications make way for 30-48 bit deep-color depth trustworthy reference displays become ever more important, at least in certain circles.

The method of manufacturing used in OLED TVs is quite a departure from making LCDs. While the early models may not betray this fact, OLEDs can eventually be very cheap to manufacture, at any arbitrary size that you like. I have been hoping that our now vintage Sharp Aquos would survive long enough to allow our next HDTV to be an affordable OLED-based model.

With respect to 4K/Ultra-HDTV…I will have more to say about that shortly.