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4K TV in 2017: not enough content & still too expensive

In spite of a raft of recent blockbuster product launches, it appears that demand for 4K television technology is still negligible, at least according to the latest report from market research gurus IHS iSuppli.

While next-generation TV sets have started to emerge as headline acts at top industry showcases like IFA 2012, it seems that widespread interest in ultra-HD technology will remain marginal for the foreseeable future, with the latest Television Market Tracker Report from IHS projecting that 4K will account for less than 1 per cent of the LCD market in 2017.

The fortune telling firm does expect deployment of 4K in the consumer sector to rise in the immediate future - from a paltry 4,000 units shipped in 2012 to over 2 million distributed in five years' time - but even this considerable upsurge will leave it with just 0.8 per cent of the market.

Tom Morrod, director of TV systems and technology research for IHS, ventured that content availability was one of the key challenges facing the evolving standard.

"A very limited amount of content is available at the 4K resolution. Meanwhile, because of high prices and other issues, the market for super-sized, 60in and larger sets is very small — only about 1.5 per cent of total television shipments in 2012," he said.

"Furthermore, for most people, the 1,080p resolution is good enough. Because of these factors, combined with the massive price tags, the market for 4K sets during the next few years will be limited to very wealthy consumers or to commercial uses," Mr Morrod added.

"If you have a television that is 60in or larger and are watching video that has a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, then a 4K television makes sense," the IHS iSuppli exec concluded.

4K televisions sport a resolution format of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels - for those keeping score, that's four times the picture quality of current-gen HD sets, which feature a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution - and typically retail well in excess of £10,000.

Toshiba and LG are among the manufacturers making their way on to oligarchic shopping lists, with the former using its IFA 2012 platform to unveil an 84in QFHD 4K set (see image, top) amongst other new products.

Panasonic may even have gone one better in Berlin, covertly showing off an 8K, 145in "Super Hi-Vision" telly.

Japanese electronics giant Toshiba is also thought to be planning 4K-capable notebook devices for 2013.