Televisions ... Past, present, and future
Sunday, 13 November 2016 6:16:45 pm Australia/Melbourne
It’s been a long time between drinks for us and mainstream Televisions …
There was a glorious epoch in the early 2000s where we had on display simultaneously Plasma Televisions from Pioneer, Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, and Marantz along with the first Generation Sharp Aquos consumer LCD panels.
This Fujitsu Plasmavision 63 inch was state of the art for a while in the 2000's ... I suspect it produced more CO2 emissions from the brown coal in Gippsland used to produce its prodigiious electrical requiremnt than a tuned Range Rover being raced on Lygon St ...
When I unlocked the shop in the morning when we were at our peak of selling these Plasma brands after they had been left on at night a blast of heated ozone laden air would surge by me onto Lygon St. These Plasma TVs were power hungry high voltage devices and vengefully dissipated their waste heat into the confined space of our store.
The pre-eminence of the specialist retailer as the purveyor of new technology flat screens didn’t last long. By 2005 the price points and brand availability was moving firmly downstream into the bulk stores. By 2010 most of the above brands were out of Television manufacture as part of the Great Financial Crisis and the ever diminishing Return On Investment on panel manufacture.
With Sony wearing losses of the order of Australia’s GNP and the recent demise of Sharp as an independent high quality consumer panel manufacturer it looked like Television brands in Australia were reduced to an effective Korean monoculture of Samsung and LG underpinned by the Chinese supercheaps such as Hisense and Kogan with upmarket niche European high end of Loewe and B&O.
The last few years have been characterised in the TV scene by reduced margins for retailers and reduced choice for consumers. Returns on sales for the bulk store and department store purveyors in Australia have become so thin that manufacturers have had to effectively rent space in the major retailer showrooms to get their inventory on display.
The consumer has been periodically bombarded with a new technical feature … HD, 3D, 4K etc … that is presented as game changing but in fact has little or no relevance to the viewing experience and is really part of a desperate manufacturers conspiracy to keep the wheels of their industry churning by giving people reasons to buy new TVs.
In the meantime the duty cycle of mainstream Televisions has been reduced to within an inch of fulfilling their minimum necessary legal obligation to their customers. This ilk of mass market Televisions are not repairable, they are essentially “printed” products that are sold on brand name, features, and screen size to achieve a price point that proffers an advantage amidst the cut throat scene of the High St and shopping centre retailer.
Most of the vision products distributed by the tier one visuals into Australia are designed for selling into that high volume demographic where screen size and catch phrase features are sold against to the lowest possible price. Factors like build quality, longevity, and absolute picture quality, are not materially relevant to either the professional mass merchandise buyers or their customers whose main aim is to make the precious dollars stretch further into more market share and a larger screen.
Thus it's hard for a very specialist high end store to countenance a mass market Television brand. All too often the distribution of brands like Sony and Samsung in Australia are entirely beholden to the main stream retailers and there is no opportunity for niche purveyor to be price and range competitive.
At the very top end of the market there is the German made Loewe that we consistently sell to those prepared to pay AMG level money for the best looking image and chassis one can get. However the realistic truth is that the most likely new Loewe TV purchaser is someone who already has owned and is aware of their advantages ... and can afford to pay the difference...
Customers are now on their second or even third generation flat panel purchase. The incidence of CRTs being left on the roadside is greatly reduced. In a recent Loewe promotion that we participated in, the factory was supporting Trade In rebates against customers old Television sets. It was a very successful campaign for this beautiful range of Televisions, interestingly nearly all the trade ins were early model plasma screens rather than the otherwise anticipated CRT screens.
It appears then that the market has peaked … the feeding frenzy for large and flat is over and manufacturers are coming back into the market with higher quality Television products that offer genuine qualitative differentiation rather than an acronym and bigger screen size.
And so to a new opportunity for us to sell in the high end mainstream TV market …
We have just put on display two new LED displays, the Sony Z9 65 inch and the Philips 7000 series 75 inch. These are the extreme performance competition to the highly featured Samsung and LG offerings and offer point for point price parity with those brands.
The Z9 Sony is a game changer in the current LCD vs OLED war ... The Z series takes local panel backlight dimming to its logical conclusion: every LED in its backlight can be dimmed individually, discrete from its neighbors. Doing so should further reduce the amount of blooming, or stray illumination, that plagues local dimming TVs that rely on groups of LED dimming to acheive partial ultra contrast blacks. Alongside this the Z9 series is claiming 1600 Nits plus illumination level that is right up there with the Pro CAD tool panels.
The peak brightness level from the Z9 is really astounding. When that momentary burst of Netflix white comes on screen or there is a touch of thermonuclear on one of our habitual Science Fiction movies that form the background of Carlton Audio Visual … the burst of light is sufficient to flashlight style leave a retinal after image and stop conversation on the showroom floor
The Z9 offers a full Android based smart interface with Voice Search and Google Cast, and features prominent Netflix with 4K streaming capability. For that enthusiast who spends ... too much of the time probably ... viewing or, particularly for this set, gaming, on a large screen; this is a sure candidate for your living space.
This is the Lexus of Televisions ... high end Japanese with a lifetime of features and space age looks to leave people waking up fantasizing about owning one ...
The Philips TVs are back in Australia and really getting some traction. I love the Ambilight, it statically or dynamically back lights the image to provide a proper contrast and dynamic colour range while lowering eye fatigue. Philips have always offered this on their better TVs but its hard to get across to customers unless they see it for themselves.
The Philips TVs score well on bang for buck with the 75inch at $6999 and the 65 at $3399, these are very competitive prices against the Samsung/LG market majors.
They are full Android kitted and play ridiculously intense 4K streams from their built in Netflix facilities.
Of course this industry is a Shark that forever must keep moving or it will suffocate and die. Todays handshake is tomorrows betrayal and there is always the pressure of market share acquisition and the need of numbers. As the demand slackens the need to produce something new that can ... maybe ... tease new sales in a low growth environment becomes paramount.
There is already discussion of 8K and 16K resolution Televisions ...
This below is the Loewe OLED Television coming out in January with a loudspeaker that slides into place when in use.
At $16,000 plus the Loewe OLED wil be our top of the range series for those people who can afford the severe teutonic elegance and the very best engineering ... form an orderly qeue in your S-Class please ...