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Tag: Ultra HD

How Much Does It Cost to See the Light?

The new $5,000 LED bulb? Not quite. But that’s the price you’ll pay for bleeding-edge tech like Ultra HD. (And that’s a bargain compared to the beginning of the year!) The new Cree LED bulb just broke the $10 barrier. Any takers?

The new $5,000 LED bulb? Not quite. But that’s the price you’ll pay for bleeding-edge tech like Ultra HD. (And that’s a bargain compared to the beginning of the year!) The new Cree LED bulb just broke the $10 barrier. Any takers?

I’ve got two brilliant deals to report today.
One for $10.
The other… $5,000.

While you get back on your chair, consider this-
If there’s one constant surrounding the home tech industry,
it’s if you wait long enough, the price will plunge.

So every so often, it’s a smart idea to take another look at the pricey tech you covet, because you never know when it’s time to pull the trigger.

Already Prime Time for Ultra HD TV?
Last week, I ran into a colleague at work one morning, while waiting in the cafeteria line.
He’s quite comfortable with his home tech and likes to chat with me about current video trends.
(the same way I enjoy talking with cinematographers I work with about the lenses they prefer)

He asked me if I expected to be using Ultra HD tech in the near future.
Knowing this new, crazy-expensive TV format was still in its infancy, I shot him a look of doubt and said we were years away from that transition.

But he didn’t seem satisfied…
He reframed his question and focused on the TV screens I work with.
When would I be replacing my HD screens with Ultra HD versions?

Again, I responded it wasn’t on my radar and not an imminent purchase decision.
(I didn’t want to be rude by pointing out the teeny problem of the severe pricing.)

I paid for my oatmeal and was careful not to expose any non-verbal cues revealing my true position on how silly I thought this conversation really was.

When I first blogged about Ultra HD TVs three months ago, the prototype screens at the Consumer Electronics Show cost a whopping $20,000!
(I think we all agree that price was a real non-starter!)

So why was my friend even bringing it up?

Maybe he was just trying to strike up a conversation about the newest tech he’d read about.
Tech heads talk all the time about gear they can’t afford, right?
No harm in that.

75% Price Cut
The next morning, I was quickly reviewing my email in the precious
‘quiet hour’ before my preschooler wakes up.
I looked briefly at a marketing message from Best Buy promoting their new Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs.

Did some marketing guru figure I’d won the lottery?
How silly is that?
But I clicked on the link anyway.

My jaw dropped…
$5,000.
That’s how much Sony’s new 55” 4K Ultra HD TV, which went on ‘pre-order’ sale last week costs.

And its larger 65” cousin goes for a mere $7,000.

What?!

That’s a pretty significant price drop from three months ago.
Granted, these are smaller screens than their $20K cousins… but still!

I’m still not sure who’s going to drop everything to run down to their nearest Best Buy to pick up a 4K TV at these still exorbitant prices.
But in just ninety days, Ultra HD has evolved from science fiction to simply crazy money.
It’s no longer entirely out of reach for some well-heeled early adopters.

It is amazing to see how fast Ultra HD is taking hold.
My friend was right on target to be talking about it.

And if the prices keep dropping, I can guess what the must-have holiday tech item will be this year or next…

Moving LED Bulbs Away from the Fringe
A similar story is brewing on the other side of the tech-pricing spectrum.
Let’s review society’s pricey journey to replace the simple incandescent light bulb.

It’s been difficult to beat Mr. Edison’s invention, because his 19th century technology, though wildly inefficient, gets the job done and costs about a buck a bulb these days.

The CFL replacement program was largely a bust with those icky, slow-to-illuminate fluorescent bulbs that would wig out before their time and contaminate your house with mercury if they happened to break.

And they never really came down in price.

Now, LED tech is making a play to construct the Edison bulb killer:

  • It radiates a nice light quality
  • It has a life span spanning into two decades
  • No mercury
  • And has the same shape as the old incandescent bulbs you still love

But LED light bulbs have also been wicked expensive.

A year ago, I talked about Philips’ new LED dimmable light bulbs that were supposed to change the world.

Their wonder LED bulb, won the ‘L Prize Award’ from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But, the 12.5-watt champion is still selling for $50 at Home Depot!!
(of course less on Amazon- $29.00)
Nobody really wants to buy a light bulb at either price…

So I saved some money and settled for Philips’ ‘loser light bulb.‘
They were really called AmbientLEDs. But I gave them the loving nickname, because they weren’t quite as efficient as their mighty L Prize cousins.
(Otherwise, you wouldn’t notice any difference.)

I bought a few for $15.00
(supported by a temporary $10 discount)
…and declared victory.

Philips LED Bulbs: The Next Generation
Philips continued to improve on their LED light bulb tech, coming out with their next generation model this past January.

Called the A19 LED Bulb, (that’s a zinger!)
it no longer has that Cylon-looking metallic exterior.
It’s even more efficient, sucking only 11 watts, but it still costs a hefty $15.

I’ve got to admit, $15 for a 60-watt replacement bulb is better than $50, but I’m guessing the relatively high prices have limited LED bulb use as a fringe science experiment for tech geeks.

Cree Takes the Spotlight
Last week, I went to Home Depot’s website and noticed their homepage had been taken over by something called Cree.

I know…
Who or what the heck is ‘Cree?’
(sounds like a lawn disease)
(or a new Star Trek alien race… THE CREE!!)

Actually, it’s a North Carolina-based LED manufacturer that seemingly out of nowhere has shaken up the competition with their new consumer friendly LED bulbs.
Their design almost exactly matches their incandescent ancestors, and the pricing can’t be beat.

In fact, Cree has just broken the $10 LED bulb price barrier.

Home Depot is their big distributor right now.
Here’s the pricing lineup:

  • The 6-Watt (40W equivalent) LED bulb costs $9.97
  • The 9-Watt (60W equivalent) LED bulb goes for $12.97
  • The 9-Watt (60W equivalent) daylight LED bulb sets you back only $13.97

Cree LED Bulb with blue background
Using Fringe to Go Mainstream

I know it’s hard to get too excited over a light bulb, but I’ve got to give credit to the marketing team at Cree.

They’re putting the company on the map with a clever TV adverting campaign that features actor Lance Reddick, who played Agent Broyles on the sci-fi TV series, Fringe.

Reddick isn’t really spoofing his TV character, but by playing his pitch straight while delivering some intentionally silly lines, you feel like you might be watching outtakes from a Fringe episode in the alternate universe.

Of course, all of the commercials are available on YouTube:

• The fun tag line from one of the spots is
“Nostalgia is dumb.”

• Their Eulogy spot is also quite clever

Deal or No Deal?
$5,000 for a super sharp Ultra HD TV that can’t be beat?
$10 for a light bulb that’s 84% more efficient?

Anyone ready to pull the trigger on this brightest tech available?

I did!
…went to Home Depot yesterday to pick up a few Cree LED bulbs.

Okay, so it’s clearly easier to drop a sawbuck than take out a second mortgage to pay for an Ultra HD TV.

Even so… I’ll understand if you feel you haven’t seen the light yet,
even with THE CREE.
(pray the Borg don’t hear about this…)

We all know that tech pricing drops as technologies mature.
Still, it’s been remarkable to watch this economic model in action over the past few months.

Who said home tech innovations can’t be a spectator sport?

…though I must admit, it’s not quite as much fun as watching Reddick pay the bills while talking sternly about innovation.

“If you argue with math, you will lose!”

Thank you, Agent Broyles.

I Don’t Know Why I Want Ultra HD

Behold the mighty 85” Samsung Ultra HD TV on the floor of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.  What’s Ultra TV?  Exactly.

Behold the mighty 85” Samsung Ultra HD TV on the floor of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. What’s Ultra TV? Exactly.

Another CES has come and gone.
If you were following the tech reports from Vegas, you know one of the big technologies on display was cutting edge HDTVs designed to turn the current TV market on its head.

More Star Treky than today’s glistening pinnacle of tech achievement-
The 1080P HDTV?

More Tron-alicious than the 3D technology that was supposed to revolutionize your home entertainment experience two years ago?

Why yes. Better than that.

It’s called Ultra HD.
(cue the angelic chorus)

Welcome Ultra HD
Ultra HD is four times better than regular HD.
Also called 4K, which refers to the number of horizontal pixels on the screen, this nascent TV format is designed to really knock your socks off.

And not to be outdone…
There’s already an 8K Ultra HD TV format designed to kill the 4K revolution before it even begins.

Sharp was the first out of the 8K gate, displaying their 85” proof of concept TV at CES.
Its 8K display was made up of a mere 33 million pixels.
(drool)

There’s one tiny problem.
Virtually no cameras shoot in 8K yet.
And there’s very little commercial TV content currently available in 4K.

But every revolution has to start from somewhere, right?
So today, the commercial evolution of the Ultra HD story is predominantly in the 4K space.

Cha-Ching!
Did you know that 4K Ultra HD TV sets have already been shipping to those of us with a little disposable income…
Sony and LG, respectively, sell their 84” 4K models for a mere $20K and $25K.

What?
You read it right.
That’s twenty thousand.
Dollars.
For a TV that’s sharper than your neighbors.
(And has a great picture)

All Hail Samsung – New King of Ultra HD
AT CES, Samsung introduced their 85″ Ultra HD whopper,
with their ‘S9’ 4K Timeless Gallery TV.
(The S9 UHD TV edges out its 84” competition by 1 inch.
95” and 110” Samsung models are due out by the end of the year.)

And how much does it cost to become the proud owner of the largest Ultra HDTV in the world?

$37,877
(preorder pricing from Korea)

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Piggy Bank
Face it. These massive Ultra HD TVs are going to cost you well into five figures.
And there’s no real programming out there yet in Ultra HDTV.

Hmmm…
(ring ring)
Hello, George Jetson? Is your used hover car still for sale?
(That might give you a bigger bang for your buck.)

Okay. So these first generation Ultra HDTVs aren’t ready for prime time.
But like all new tech, the pricing will eventually drop.

Should You Supersize Your TV?
Assuming you’re not going to spend a ludicrous amount of money on Ultra HD today, the Ultra HD price point will still be expensive in the future when you consider jumping in.

So the three questions you’ll want to ask yourself before going Ultra HD are –

  1. Why do I need to upgrade the size and pixel count of my current flat screen?
  2. Do I really want to pay for it?
  3. And will I be happy with a massive screen in my family room?

Technology is Evolving Faster than People’s Pocketbooks
One problem with the rapid advance of technology is the way it affects the life cycles of home technology.
By the time you get used to your new gadget, the next version is often already on the market!

This phenomenon is juiced by the mega marketing machines out there with their mission to drive you to replace your old, but perfectly functional tech.

Apple, of course, successfully cracked the code on this one.
Their must-have tech devices refresh themselves every year, and their older tech become obsolete within three years.
(Usually due to self-created software incompatibilities)

It’s like a scene out of “Blade Runner.”
Every time I retire an older Apple product into a drawer and look at it for the last time,
I think I see Rutger Hauer, hanging on for dear life as I push it coldly into the darkness of premature obsolescence.

For better or for worse, when I watch “Blade Runner” on my Apple TV,
Roy Batty always dies in the end.

But not every consumer tech company is an Apple.
Certainly no company today that’s known for making TVs.

Unless we’re still talking about Apple and its unannounced, but long rumored, Apple TV that’s actually a TV.
I’m drooling already, and I don’t even know what it can do.
(well, nobody does yet)
But I’m assuming it will be a game changer.

Goodbye Analog. Hello HDTV!
Being a game changer is one way to prompt a purchase.
Another is fear of obsolescence.
The HDTV revolution a few years back was propped up by that concern.

The government’s forced digital transition deadline back in 2009 chained your old analog TV to those crummy analog/digital converters. How humiliating.

That’s real pressure that would have sold the Brooklyn Bridge to anyone!

Plus, the wide screen/flat screen combo punch was hard to ignore.
And you got all that floor space back in your living room.

So in the end, HDTV was a welcome upgrade.

3D, Really?
I love 3D films in the movie theater.
Especially when the 3D is done right.
(“Avatar,” “Prometheus,” “Life of Pi.” )
But seriously, not every movie needs it.

For the past couple of years, I’ve resisted the pressure to buy a premium priced 3D HDTV for my living room.
Sure, 3D is cool, but I can get my fix at my local multiplex.

And those big, expensive, clunky glasses are just going to get lost when my toddler sees me wearing them.

Day 1: Dada, what are those?”
Day 2: “Dada, look at me!”
Day 3: 2D is cool too.

I’m not alone.

The success of 3D HDTVs is somewhat unclear.
Some reports put the technology at 20-30% market penetration.
That’s hardly a tipping point.

But now, the 3D voodoo has begun to trickle down to mid-level TV screens.
So 3D is becoming just another TV feature, vs. the big selling point that drives the TV set’s sole purpose.

A lot more 3D displays will be slipping into living rooms this way.

So 3D may be part of my next TV purchase after all-
As a passive upgrade.
But only after my current model sputters towards complete darkness.

Size Doesn’t Matter Anymore
What, if anything would get me to prematurely retire my beloved 42” Panasonic Plasma?

Yes, my plasma screen is a 720P dinosaur that I’ve owned for the past six years, but its picture looks just fine, thank you very much.

(Before that, I own a 25” Zenith tube monster for over a decade, which was still alive and kicking when I pulled its plug to make room for the HDTV.)

I’ve mused before about how much of my media consumption has recently been handled by my portable screens.
They’re so teeny-tiny by comparison to my plasma display.
So size hasn’t been driving my screens of choice lately.

And I don’t think I need four times the pixels of Ultra HD.
Heck, even now, I’m not even taking advantage of the 1080P standard of HD.

Something revolutionary really has to convince me to upgrade.
I’m sure Utra HD looks stunning.
But, Ultra HD still isn’t it.

How to Make Bigger Better
Now, don’t give up on me, oh mighty marketing machines.
Not so quickly.
Maybe, I’m just playing hard to get.
Maybe you just haven’t found the right hook yet.

Here’s an idea…

What if your Ultra HD TVs got so big, so massive, they become complete walls unto themselves in people’s living rooms?
(You’ve seen it sci-fi movies, where the screens rotate changing window vistas.)

And make them interactive.
And affordable.

Suddenly, it’s something else. Something different. Something I’d really crave.

Parlor Walls – The Must Have Tech for 2023
You can quote me now. I must have one of these.

I’ll gladly ditch all my bookcases and their contents to make space.
(except for my tattered copy of Fahrenheit 451)

If you haven’t already made the connection, I’m salivating over a tech vision that’s sixty years old.

Remember the parlor TV walls in Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel?
(Yes, the parlor walls represented the addictive and isolating effect of technology, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

My point is… there are plenty as-yet unrealized applications for the evolution of Ultra HD imagery.

Some related ideas have already been conceived by Corning, the glassmaker that brought you Gorilla Glass for your smartphones and tablets.

Their forward thinkers have envisioned quite the future partnering their intelligent glass with companion technologies.

Corning Screen_docsLast year Corning produced their viral YouTube video (almost three-million-views) called –
A Day Made of Glass 2.

This way-cool video imagines the everyday uses for their architectural display, wall format display, and 3D TV display glass technologies.

It’s a remarkable vision.

My credit card is already on the table.
But there’s no one to call.
Yet.

If one little YouTube video can get me this excited, it shouldn’t be that hard to convince me to buy my next TV.

Note to Ultra HD Coalition
There’s a new TV in my future.
That’s better than the one I have.
In ways I care about.
That I can afford.
And I really want.

Now please go make it.

I’ll be waiting in my parlor…

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