Ultra HD TV panel shipments to hit 2.6 million units this year

lg-ultra-hdThe first Ultra HD devices are hitting the market and analysts now estimate 2.6 million Ultra HD TV panels could be shipped by the end of the year.

Since Ultra HD, or 4Kx2K is a relatively new standard, shipments last year were negligible, just 63,000 units. This year we should see the first generation of commercially viable Ultra HD televisions, but it will take years before they go mainstream.

Ultra HD sets are extremely expensive and they are pretty pointless for the time being. There is practically no 4K content out there and spending thousands on “future proof” TVs just isn’t an option for most consumers. NPD Display Search reckons panel makers are looking to speed up 4Kx2K adoption by strengthening their relationships with TV brands and stepping up their manufacturing and sales efforts.

DisplaySearch Vice President, Greater China Market, said Innolux Corp is the most aggressive Ultra HD panel maker at this point, as it is developing a full line-up of panels in the 35- to 85-inch range.

“Despite this, 4K×2K panel manufacturers’ shipments are primarily focused on 50″, 55″/58”, and 65″ sizes, which are expected to have the highest volume shipments, especially in China,” said Hsieh. “4K×2K LCD TV is the newest TV technology available, and in order for it to be successful, it will be critical for the supply chain to avoid falling behind when making their purchases, even if content is still scarce. Some panel makers are also working with design houses to develop circuits built into the panel, to enable up-scaling of HD to 4K×2K content. This will help to drive the 4K×2K LCD TV market and encourage panel makers, especially those that have already started design-in work with TV brands in 2013.”

It all sounds a tad optimistic. New chips and upscaling are no substitute for 4K content, which is simply not around and it won’t be readily available for years to come.