So what's going to happen this year?

    Expect 4K hype, no streaming services and 3D without glasses. Maybe.
    3D, 4K, Netflix, Comment, Broadcast Business


    It’s the start of a new year, so let’s rack our brains, look ahead and wonder what might happen in 2013.

    If there’s one thing we do all know, it’s that the tech industry always wants to move us on to the next, great ‘big thing’. So, to revisit a subject we touched on last month in this column, you’re going to start hearing an awful lot about 4K. Also known as Ultra-HD, 4K displays will basically just have a lot more pixels in them than current, Full HD displays.

    This will, of course, mean more immersive and lifelike audiovisual experiences than ever before (not entirely my words). Great, but from what I understand, the TV makers would be better focusing their efforts elsewhere. Contrast ratio, for example, even on plasmas, is still below what it was on our faithful old CRTs; side viewing angles remain a problem on those LCDs and LEDs that most of us now have and motion blur remains as bad as ever, even on modern TVs.

    The (at least partial) solution to these issues appears to be OLED technology. OLED displays, however, still cost a fortune. So how about the TV makers focus on driving the price of OLED displays down to more affordable levels, before giving too much of a push to 4K? After all, 4K may not even become mainstream before the industry moves on to the inevitable 8K (for more on 4K, turn to page 12 this month).

    One thing that’s becoming clear, on a regional and global level, is our love of consuming content when it suits on the device that suits us. OSN and Arabian Radio Network have been early pioneers in this area. OSN offers a mobile streaming service, Play, and a video on demand offering, Plus. Arabian Radio Network has gone multi-platform, with its radio stations available online, through mobile apps and even on smart TVs (turn to page 24 this month for more).

    While on the subject of streaming, will we see a service like Netflix finally launch in the Middle East? I’m not sure we will. One issue is trying to line up all of the agreements necessary to create a decent content library. Another is how much to charge and whether or not enough consumers can be signed up to make such a service pay. After all, if you can get free, non-linear content on YouTube and (MBC’s catch-up service), you’ll opt for those above a paid service.

    Did I forget stereoscopic 3D, the darling of IBC just two years ago, but now seemingly forgotten? It turns out most of us didn’t like 3D glasses all that much (or perhaps we didn’t think S3D was really all that engaging). A solution is on its way in the form of TV-size displays that will do S3D, but without the silly glasses. This technology, will, however, take a few years to perfect. So, let 4K be the new next big thing, at least until the next version of 3D comes along in a couple of years of time.

    Before signing off, let me wish you all a very healthy and prosperous 2013. And if you do have any views on what the year will bring, let us know.

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