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Screen Technology Highlights from CES 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016
The Las Vegas consumer electronics show has recently wrapped up for 2016, with many exciting new technologies featured. Following recent trends, screen resolutions and sizes have increased, while diameters have decreased.

Many of these new technologies may be a few months away from becoming available in New Zealand, but the show offers a unique opportunity to glimpse what may be available for audio visual display and promotions in the near future.

I’ll see your 4K and raise you 8K



4K Televisions have barely hit the NZ market, but the Las Vegas show featured a few companies showcasing 8K display technology. 8K is basically 16 times the resolution of 1080p, and does beg the question of how big a market is available for such a massive jump in resolution, given that the number of movies available for 4K tv’s still only measures in the low hundreds.

As with many of these super high res displays, much of the interest is from the Asian region, specifically Korea and Japan. Ever forward thinking, Japan has a long term plan to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K, when presumably screens will have dropped from their current price of around US$133k for an LG 85 inch screen. Its hard to say whether screens of this sharpness will ever become widely used, but for the foreseeable future, its fairly certain they will just remain an expensive novelty.

Bigger, and bigger still



Another star of the show was this years claimant for the coveted ‘biggest tv’ spot, taken by Samsung’s massive 170 inch screen. The term ‘screen’ being a little misleading as the display is actually modular, being made up of a number of smaller screens acting in unison. However, new technology which has enabled Samsung to eliminate the bezels or borders on their screens makes this massive, multi screen display appear like one huge unit to all but the closes inspection.

This unit was more of a showcase than anything that will every become publicly available, but it certainly shows off the possibilities available with the slimmer border-less screens for all video wall design types.

One screen - Two feeds



With the advent of OLED displays, not only has it become possible to make TV’s thinner and curved, LG has come up with a way to display two different feeds on each side of the panel. Currently only in prototype stage, this particular technology probably has more applications in display and promotion rather than home use. One can imagine the 5mm thin sheets hanging from the ceiling or installed in a transparent wall, allowing customers to walk 360 degrees around and take in all the content.

Dr Ching W Tang, one of the pioneers of OLED technology believes that this new way of displaying images will become commonplace in the future, stating that "Without backlight and other auxiliary layers, the OLED display is fundamentally less complicated compared to LCD, and in time less costly to manufacture." Given the variety of applications and formats already being toyed with while the technology is still in its infancy, its not hard to see how OLED screens could soon become the norm, both for business and consumer use.

Outrageously thin TV - The width of 4 stacked credit cards



With the new OLED technology, screens have been shrunk down to thicknesses previously thought unimaginable, including the new LG G6 with measures a stunning .11 inches thick…something LG’s senior marketing leader David Vanderwaal describes as “a picture on glass.”

Not content with resting an their laurels by inventing the worlds thinnest screen, LG have also programmed it with intelligent ‘HDR pro’ technology. This allows the screen to adjust the brightness and darkness of its image to match the brightness of the surrounding area, allowing the display to act more like a window onto another reality rather than just a TV screen.

An LED Screen that rolls up like paper



And finally, LG also introduced something that has been talked about for a while but is only now becoming reality…HD TV screens that can be rolled up like a newspaper.

The new organic light emitting diodes (OLED) that make up the image on screen produce their own light, eliminating the need for the back lights that made up the bulk of earlier displays. The 18inch panel showcased is roughly 4mm thick, and nearly indestructible. By placing a thin magnetic strip on the wall surface of your choice, the screen can be placed and removed at your convenience.

Exciting as this is, there are a few downsides. Firstly, the screen can currently only display at a resolution of 1200 x 810. Secondly, the price could be prohibitive, considering that the closest commercially available OLED unit retails for around US$9000, even without the novelty of it being paper thin and flexible. The final, and probably most important downside to this new technology is that LG hasn’t quite figured out how to mass produce them yet. According to AJC.com, they have hit an 80% yield, which means that 20 percent of their screens just don’t work. So, it may be a few years yet until you can live your dream of a roll away TV, but the interest in this technology indicates that we may see it commercially available sooner rather than later.