We appreciate the great attendance we had for our Sony vendor event. Those of you who attended our premiere of the new Sony 4K flat panel television witnessed the introduction of true breakthrough technology. We’ll fill you in on the breakthrough aspect later on, but first a bit of history.

The global TV market is in the dumps. Sales continue to decline even as prices fall to historic lows. (It’s amazing how cheap it is now to buy a run of the mill flat panel TV.) The suppliers of TVs are all losing money. So why is this?

When the first flat panel TV’s came out in 1999, a 50” plasma set (which was only 480p) was $20,000. A 20” 480i LCD was $5500. However, there was demand because these had not previously existed. The world began to replace old tube TVs. By the time the first 1080i sets were introduced demand was surging and there was not enough supply. Billions were spent to gear up production facilities to make the panels used in these sets. (I guess the people who were figuring out future demand did not take the same economics courses I did!) Demand was huge, but it was mostly due to the replacement demand spike. Many plants came on line and supply finally met demand. The numbers were still coming in great on TV sales, so more and more production facilities ramped up.

Then, a tipping point hit as demand fell off and supply rose. All the plants were pumping out sets so a vicious price war began about 5 years ago that continues today. This put a few TV vendors out of business, and some huge names in consumer electronics continue to post record losses. Today all of them are losing money just to keep the plants running.

Demand fell off for two reasons. The obvious first reason: most people had replaced their tube set with a flat panel. The second: for the last five years there has not been a significant improvement in performance. Sure, they tried to lure us in with fake, headache giving 3D and more internet apps than you can shake a stick at. But the picture, which is what really matters, has not improved that much. The price drops brought on by falling demand appeared to be a win for consumers. From further cutting costs, some new TVs look awful compared to a decent TV from 5 years ago. You need improvements to get people to buy new stuff. Apple is the master at this, and people will buy new stuff when it’s better than their old!  Heck, I’ve still got 2 50” 1080i Fujitsus that looked great to me at home – until now.

Now is a new dawn for consumer television. The lucky crowds that jammed our store this week got to witness it for themselves. I’ll tell you about the technology in a minute, but this story will sum it up for you. As I was having conversations with the people waiting their turn to get in for a demo I ran into a customer I had not seen in a while. He was very skeptical about seeing any difference. His opinion was similar to mine, that if you compared a good 1080i set to a good 1080p set in the same room, you would see a difference, but if you had the 1080i set at home, you’d still be happy with it. He went into the demo not expecting much. I saw him again when he came out and the look on his face said it all. His comment was “Wow! That is an amazing picture, way better than anything I could imagine!”

Yes, 4K really is the next big deal. What we have on display (and by the way, Audio Advice is one of the handful of lucky dealers around the country chosen to display Sony’s new 84” set) will blow you away. So what is 4K? It’s actually 4 times the resolution of current HD! Do you remember the first time you saw a real HD picture? When you come in to our store and see what we have on display, that is pretty much how you will react. The pixel count is so dense, you can also sit much closer to the screen than ever before for a really immersive experience!

The room was packed for every showing

The room was packed for every showing

The obvious question is: where will the content come from? Sony Pictures has about 70 films coming out or in the pipeline that will be shot in 4K. Movie theaters across the country have already been preparing for this. Sony makes a 4K digital projector that is around $200,000. Over 130,000 movie theaters in the US have already purchased this projector! Sony also tells us many TV shows are beginning to be filmed with their 4K camera. The big question, though, is content delivery and on that point, it’s not totally worked out. A movie shot in 4K takes up about 5 times the amount of data that a standard Blu-ray does. Sony plans to announce their 4K delivery system this year. For now they are doing something pretty cool. If you buy their 4K flat panel set, they will loan you a server loaded with 10 feature films that were shot in 4K. They plan to add more over the course of the year.

This is the next big advance in TV. You just flat have to see it to believe it, and when you see it, you will want it! I know I sure do !

Other cool features on top of the great picture include using passive glasses for 3D, so you do not get the headaches from the flashing shutter effect. And if you are into gaming, there is a really neat feature called Simulview with PlayStation3, where with special glasses two players can see two different things on the same screen!

The bottom line- you must come check out the new Sony 4K Ultra HD flat panel, you will be amazed!