CES 2013: Insanely great Ultra HDTVs

5:42 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
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SAN FRANCISCO -- This year's TV hype is likely to be just that.
Apple has failed to deliver on a rumored revolutionary TV. And manufacturers at the International CES in Las Vegas are pitching unattainably pricey Ultra HD sets.

When will consumers get, in the words of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, "insanely great" TVs?

Apple is widely expected to radically redefine the TV. But crucial deals for premium network programming in an á la carte iTunes TV service have yet to materialize -- as have rumors of Apple developing set-top boxes aligned with cable operators.

"I don't know that they (Apple) are any further along on the content piece," says Paul Gagnon, director of TV research at NPD DisplaySearch. "That sounds like a pretty big sticking point."

What consumers face in the meantime are TV makers enhancing television models that many believe aim at Apple's ambitions. "You're starting to see innovations that you'd expect from Apple," says Jonathan Weitz, a partner at IBB Consulting.

Things like voice control of the television, apps and the ability to share content across tablets, smartphones and TVs are expected to continue to evolve to meet consumer interests, he says. Those features are expected one day to appear in an Apple television that uses its Siri voice assistant and connects to iPads, iPhones and nearly 800,000 apps.

While smart TVs were last year's big story at the Las Vegas electronics show, this year's focus on Ultra HD sets may leave some wanting -- particularly on price. Ultra HD promises over four times the resolution of current 1080p HDTV sets, but can cost more than a new car.

Samsung has an 85-incher coming out for about $20,000. Sony has announced an 84-inch model for $25,000, and LG has an 84-incher for about $20,000. Maybe you're on a budget, so a $12,000 55-inch OLED TV announced from LG would be better for you?

TV makers hope that these new models will eventually attract buyers to jump-start the ailing market. Last year saw a 6% decline in worldwide TV sales, and sales are expected to stay flat at 205 million in 2013, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

Analysts say that in addition to a prohibitively high price for now, Ultra HDTVs will continue to lack content that shows off its capabilities, and consumers will have a difficult time seeing the difference from TVs that aren't enormous.

Consumers, for now, may have to wait a few years for the prices to come down on these next-generation Ultra HD sets.

Scott Martin, USA TODAY

Gannett/USA Today

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