Sony Is Banking On 4K, Not OLED, For The Future Of TV

Don’t expect to see a Sony OLED TV on your local big-box store shelves any time soon. The Japanese electronics giant is getting out of the next-gen game and focusing all its attention on the more viable Ultra HD tech that it’s already developed.

According to Nikkei, Sony is abandoning its expensive in-house research into OLED TV production, and focusing its attention instead on improving its current stable of 4K Ultra HD screens. It might continue research at a later date, once OLED is more mature and commercially viable, but for now, its TVs will be exclusively LCD with LED backlighting.

Sony has historically been shy with TV tech that wasn’t LCD since the flat-panel revolution began; it never dipped its toes seriously into plasma, and has always trumpeted LCD’s advantages and been an innovator of the technology. Way back in 2011, it created a 46-inch TV that used less power than two light bulbs — not so impressive now, but world-leading at the time.

Don’t forget, this isn’t just some desperate last-ditch grab. Sony has the strongest end-to-end 4K credentials going; it makes 4K image sensors, 4K-capable digital SLRs and professional video cameras, professional 4K colour grading monitors, 4K media players — and the mandatory accompanying high resolution audio systems and high-end speakers. It made a beautiful ad using a bunch of its own 4K production cameras (and a flower petal volcano) just to demonstrate what Ultra HD can do.

Sony is pushing its Ultra HD BRAVIAs hard in 2014 — it’s one of the few TV makers that has committed fully to the super-high resolution standard, soon with half a dozen 55- and 65-inch UHD TVs of varying price points and feature-sets available to Australian buyers. Those same screens are also some of the most capable 4K units on the market, thanks to Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOS quantum dot panels, which genuinely improve black levels — traditionally one of the chief sticking points with LED TVs.

Here’s a surprising bit of history — Sony was the first TV manufacturer with an OLED TV in Australia, the 11-inch XEL-1 back in 2009. Destined for the desks of CEOs and multi-millionaires, it cost $7,000, and Sony Australia only apparently sold a handful. Maybe that turned the company off committing more wholeheartedly to the technology.

By the way: Sony calls its 3840×2160 pixel screens “4K Ultra HD”, as does LG. Ignore the marketing speak; the resolution is no different to Samsung’s UHD, or even regular ol’ Ultra HD. [Nikkei via The Verge]

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