CES 2018: The TV set will not be revolutionized

Ultra High Definition television sets will reach an impressive milestone this year: The Consumer Technology Association, the Arlington, Va.-based trade group that runs CES, predicts that UHD sets will make up half, 22 million out of 44 million, of all digital displays shipped to dealers in 2018,

That’s noteworthy for any TV technology that had its CES debut only six years ago. But it’s even more remarkable considering how UHD — also called “4K” for its almost 4,000 pixels of horizontal resolution — remains so scarce on the cable and satellite TV services that helped drive the rise of HDTV.

That momentum, however, doesn’t mean you should be among the people buying those 22 million UHD sets. If you’d rather wait on that upgrade, CES 2018 offers plenty of reasons to.

UHD’s endless evolution

The single biggest excuse to postpone a UHD purchase: The industry keeps revising its notion of good UHD.

Two years ago, that led to a second abbreviation showing up on UHD spec sheets:  HDR, short for “high dynamic range.” Its wider array of colors and light are noticeable even on smaller screens, where the extra resolution of UHD can easily get lost. There’s also more than one flavor of HDR: Beyond the widely supported HDR10, there’s the souped-up HDR10+ as well as proprietary variants from Dolby and Technicolor.

The differences between them shouldn’t trouble non-videophiles. But picture purists may want to wait for more powerful processors that fine-tune your video even more. Samsung, for example, showed off a prototype 8K set (yes, for some people 4K isn’t enough) that used one such chip to make even standard-definition video look acceptably sharp on that 85-inch screen.

Broadcast and Blu-ray

The UHD feature far more people may put on their wish list is over-the-air broadcasts. The “ATSC 3.0” standard (also called “Next-Gen TV”) that will bring TV over the air as well as better HDTV reception is now ready for testing by TV stations — but sets with compatible tuners may not ship in the U.S. until next year.</span></p><

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