What Does a $700,000 TV Look Like? (Photo)
This story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
As a new wave of viewing technology hits big-screen TVs -- including radically higher definition and richer lighting systems -- the market suddenly is rolling out televisions that are getting supersized to home-theater proportions. And that's not the only tube news: Manufacturers also are converting TVs into the ultimate landscaping statement -- yes, a monster outdoor TV from Porsche Design Studio is about to start sprouting in backyards the world over.
THE CRAZE FOR ULTRA HD
Quadruple the viewing pleasure with four times the pixelation of regular HD. "All the buzz right now is about large Ultra HDTV, or 4K. It's great resolution," says Patrick Calderone of AVX Audio Video Experience (clients include DreamWorks Animation CFO Lew Coleman and Shine America CEO Rich Ross). "The one I install the most is Sony's 84-inch 4K TV, which is about $25,000. LG makes one for about $20,000." And these high-res behemoths are about to get even bigger: At this month's IFA electronics show in Berlin, Samsung revealed a room-busting, 98-inch flat panel. It's not yet priced, but the company already boasts an 85-incher for $40,000.
LED'S BRIGHTER SUCCESSOR
OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology is getting big play because, unlike LED panels, OLEDs are small enough that each pixel lights up independently. Translation: You get a richer, higher-contrast image with OLED. Samsung, LG and others recently have introduced these types of sets (which cost upward of $9,000), and while many consider it the future of small-screen viewing, Calderone says its true moment has yet to arrive: "The picture on OLED is amazing, and it will be the direction of the future, but until costs come down a bit, it's a tough sell -- even in a city like L.A."
CURVED SCREENS AHEAD
Beyond simply making them more massive, manufacturers also are playing with the shape of TVs, and this year, it was all about mimicking those immersive, Imax-like curves. Samsung and Sony have introduced their own versions: Samsung touts the world's first curved OLED 55-inch television ($9,000), and Sony lays claim to the first curved LED screen ($4,000, in stores in October). "A curved screen gives a more theater-like experience," says Prime Sound Systems' Gus Simon, whose clients include Britney Spears, Patrick Dempsey and RealD CEO Michael Lewis. "If you can't really go with the whole 250-inch home projection system, a 55-inch can give you that kind of experience on the smaller scale."
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Looking for a backyard Jumbotron? The C SEED 201, created by Porsche Design Studio, stands a staggering 15 feet tall, offers a 201-inch LED screen and hydraulically disappears into your yard when not in use. It has an equally gargantuan price tag: $700,000. That's not counting installation, which could run $300,000. Says Audio Video Interiors' Eric Eidelman, "You have to build a 30-foot-deep bunker, which involves engineers and probably dynamite." Only 25 will be sold a year, including one set to be installed at L.A. megamansion developer Mohamed Hadid's residence later in 2013.