LAS VEGAS -- About 75 new ultra high definition (UHD) televisions are expected to be showcased here at CES this week, along with promises by content providers of more 4K digital content to feed them.
UHD-TV offers almost four times the resolution of mainstream 1080p flat screens, and about 500,000 of them are expected to sell in the U.S. this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). That's up from 60,000 UHD-TVs sold in the U.S. last year.
BY 2015, that number is expected to more than double to 1.25 million sets.
Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for the CEA, told reporters and analysts at CES on Monday that high-definition 1080p LCD TVs (HDTVs) will continue to dominate the market for the next several years. Televisions with 55-in. or larger screens, expected to be the best-selling models, will make up 66% of flat screen shipments in 2017. UHD-TVs will represent 34% of the market in that year.
After several years of decline, television sales are improving as new devices spur consumers to change out their first HDTVs with newer models. According to Koenig, the refresh cycle for televisions is about eight years.
Because UHD-TVs offer 3840x2160-pixel resolution -- twice a typical HDTV's 1920x1080-pixel resolution -- set makers are creating larger screens so consumers can appreciate the better picture quality. In general, consumers can expect to see an uptick in 60-in. and larger televisions.
"It's safe to say 60-in. is the new 50-in.," Koenig said, referring to what has been one of the more popular TV screen sizes. "If they [consumers] can get a larger screen with less features, most will take that."
Unit shipments of televisions under 40 inches in size are shrinking fast, while screen sizes between 45 inches and 60 inches will grow 24% to 33% by 2017.
Also losing steam: 3DTV. Three-dimensional imaging has been a standard offering in most late model 1080p HDTVs, but Koenig said he expects manufacturers to either drop the add-on technology or simply include it as a bundled feature.
"The industry is really starting to back away from this technology," he said.
Every major TV manufacturer announced UHD-TVs at CES, with most unveiling screen sizes ranging from 55 inches all the way up to 110 inches. Most also announced curved screen OLED (organic light emitting diode) UHD-TVs.
Ironically, the super-sized TVs, along with the attendant high prices, could keep consumers at bay, Koenig said, with some thinking there's no place in their home to hang such large sets. (An online poll of 1,000 people by research group 1World Online found that only 31% of respondents said they're interested in purchasing a UHD-TV.)