AMZN.TV24 – August 27, 2016

4K vs. 1080p

As promised, today I’ll be sharing 4K vs. 1080p share on Amazon’s front search result page. Click for an introduction on my AMZN.TV24 report.

AMZN.TV24 2016.08.27 4K vs. 1080p

I started tracking information on Amazon on August 4, 2016. Unlike the previous two (Brand Share, Size Share) where I limited the chart to just 12 data points, the 4K vs. 1080p chart will go all the way back. This way the trend becomes more clear.

For most of August 4K has had about 60% share, but more recently and in particular the 22nd and 23rd of the month 4K and 1080p had equal share. The last two days show 4K gaining popularity again. I expect going forward 4K will not only return to 60% share, but take over. But there are some questions.

Would consumers respond to ridiculously low 1080p TV prices or to really low 4K prices? Ludicrous 1080p prices are sure to happen during Black Friday this year. Imagine a 55-inch 1080p LCD TV from a major brand going for US$299! I know I’d be tempted to get one, only if it’s a good brand though. And limited quantities. Of course. I’m betting there will be a major pop in 1080p LCD TV popularity in November and December. I mentioned limited quantities, but incredibly low prices will also be for a limited time as major LCD manufacturers move away from low profit margin 1080p and toward higher profit margin 4K.

Is 4K really that good? Yes, if you’re watching sports. No, if you’re watching stuff other than sports. From time to time I go to our local Best Buy store to check out what’s up. I go upstairs where the TVs are and go to the Magnolia rooms to look at the really good TVs. At first glance they look pretty good, but often I have to take a closer look. I think to myself: Am I watching a documentary about the makings of The Avengers? Or am I watching the actual movie? It’s not clear. I’ll be blunt: watching 4K movies on a 4K TV sucks, because it feels like I’m watching a documentary. I’d like my belief to be suspended and be immersed. The details are too real for my belief to be suspended and there’s nothing to be immersed in. Maybe TV brands can include a feature that makes movies look more like movies by downgrading to 1080p?

Note: A DISPLAYBLOG reader Howard M. wrote in with a correction. The documentary effect, also known as the soap opera effect, on movies is not caused by resolution (4K) but is the result of frame interpolation, which generates more frames than the film’s 24 fps. There are other names for frame interpolation: motion interpolation, motion estimation motion compensation (MEMC), and probably a couple more. Most modern 4K TVs come with frame interpolation turned on:

  • LG’s TruMotion
  • Samsung’s AutoMotion Plus
  • Sharp’s AquoMotion
  • Sony’s MotionFlow
  • VIZIO’s Smooth Motion Effect, etc.

Hat tip to Howard M.! ]

Next Monday I’ll be looking at price trends. It’ll be considerably more lengthy than the first three as I will be sharing some insights about:

  • 1080p average price trends by size
  • 4K average price trends by size
  • 4K price premiums by size

Have a great weekend!

AMZN.TV24 – August 26, 2016

Here’s a brief description of AMZN.TV24. In the inaugural AMZN.TV24 post I shared some brand share insights. Today I’ll share some data about size share trends.

AMZN.TV24 2016.08.26 Size Share

Here are some highlights:

  • 55-inch has been and continue to be dominant.
  • 65-inch is #2.
  • 60-inch is #3.
  • And 50-inch is #4.

In a future post I will delineate between 4K and 1080p, but today I’ll stick to just sizes. The front page of Amazon’s TV search result is 38% 55-inch TVs. Only a couple of years ago 55-inch TVs were considered “Wow! That’s huge!” But now, I think 55-inch is closing in on a minimum size for a new living room TV.

What’s interesting is that 60-inch TVs are not #2, but 65-inch TVs are. That’s a 10-inch jump. There are reasons for that — 65-inch pricing, 4K vs. 1080p, etc. — but it’s interesting to note 65-inch TVs take up 21%. Perhaps another possible reason is Samsung, the brand with 50% share, is optimized for manufacturing 65-inch LCD panels, making a lot of them, and marketing them aggressively.

Another interesting thought is numbers that end with 0 (zero) is not as popular as numbers that end with non-zeros, such as 5. 55 versus 50. 65 versus 60. 55 sounds better than 50. And so does 65. Just a thought.

One last note about the size share trend data: 50-inch grabbed 20%+ share a couple of times, but I think 55-inch and 65-inch will continue being dominant and will increase share.

I hope the data and insights were helpful to you. The next topic will be 4K versus 1080p share trends, which I’ll post tomorrow.


I’m starting a new market research report/service titled AMZN.TV24. Here’s why.

When I’m looking for a new TV I go to Amazon. I click on 50-inch and larger TVs with a 4-star rating or higher. The front page gives me 24 models. I thought about “Amazon’s 24 4-star TV models 50-inch and larger on the front page” as the title of this report, but decided against it; although it was descriptive it was way too long, so I shrank it, shrank it some more, and got to AMZN.TV24. Sounded pretty good to me.

Why am I starting this new report service? I wanted to see what was going on on the TV search result front page. I wanted answers to questions like:

  • What are the most popular brands? And how popular are they?
  • What are the most popular sizes?
  • What’s more popular 4K or 1080p?
  • How much is the premium for 4K over 1080p?
  • What are the pricing trends for 4K?

Now I’m just looking at 24 models that show up each day on Amazon and I’m not pretending to think this is what’s happening in the broader US TV market or the rest of the world. That would be crazy. But Amazon is a popular destination for TV buyers and most of us seldom go beyond the front page. Take this report service for what it is and I hope it’s helpful to you.


Most likely AMZN.TV24 will be a work-in-progress for a long time coming, but here’s a little taste of what I have in store:


AMZN.TV24 2016.08.25 Brand Share

This is a running 12-day (Sundays are empty because I rest and recuperate on Sundays) chart of brands represented on the front page. Remember I’m searching for 50-inch and larger TVs with 4-star or better customer ratings.

Here are some findings:

  • Samsung is dominant. Samsung has had, except for two days, 50% or more.
  • LG and TCL has been going after each other for some time and battling for 2nd place.
  • But recently Sharp has entered the picture and has taken 17% share.
  • Sony is slowly climbing back into the ring.
  • VIZIO is consistently there, but barely.

Samsung being dominant is no surprise, but Sharp has elbowed its way into second place. As you know, back in March of this year, Foxconn bought Sharp for US$3.5 billion. So maybe Foxconn is putting some resources behind Sharp and getting Sharp back into the US TV market. I don’t know.

VIZIO has had at least one if not two models that show up consistently. With LeEco buying VIZIO for $2 billion last month, who knows what will happen, but VIZIO’s brand is synonymous with a great deal. Generally speaking that is. I’ve heard from friends who own VIZIO TVs that point to display manufacturing quality going south a bit. The LCD panels inside most VIZIO TVs are VA type so the supplier(s) could be Sharp, Samsung, AUO or some other LCD manufacturer. The great thing about VIZIO’s M series and more premium models is that the LCD panels sport direct LED backlights allowing for real local dimming, meaning better contrast.

LG’s share has been 13% except for two days. LG uses IPS technology that is known to be better at color and brightness consistency when viewed from an angle. Thought peak brightness is generally a little lower than VA panels. Apple uses panels supplied mostly by LG Display for its iMacs, MacBooks, iPhones, and Apple Watches for good reason.

So there you have it. A glimpse to what I’ll be working on for the time being. Hope that was helpful or at least interesting.

AMD Radeon RX 480: US$200 VR-Ready GPU

[ Engadget ] Devindra Hardawar:

As for VR, the RX 480 delivered a solid experience without much slowdown. It didn’t matter if I was dogfighting in Eve: Valkyrie, exploring alien worlds in Farlands or platforming in Lucky’s Tale. I kept a particular eye out for stuttering or anything that could lead to motion sickness but couldn’t detect any major issues. AMD wasn’t lying: This is a VR-ready card.

The Radeon RX 480 comes in two VRAM configurations: 4GB ($200) and 8GB ($239). Hardawar reviewed the 8GB version and recommends investing the extra $39 for a smoother VR experience. Note: The 8GB version uses faster RAM.

HTC’s VR minimum hardware recommendations are as follows:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2

Oculus Rift:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.3

Here’s a YouTube video by DigitalFoundry comparing the GeForce GTX 970 vs. the Radeon RX 480:

As you can see the Radeon RX 480 outperforms the GeForce GTX 970, which is impressive considering the street price of the GTX 970 with 4GB is about $300.

Rio 2016 Summer Olympics: NBC to Present 85 Hours of VR Content on Samsung Devices

[ Variety ] Todd Spangler:

NBC is leaning into virtual reality — the hot tech flavor of the moment — with plans to pump out some 85 hours of VR programming for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The VR content, the first time Olympics coverage will be presented in virtual-reality experiences, will be available exclusively on Samsung devices. And sorry, tech-forward cord-cutters: NBC will make the Olympics in VR available only to pay-TV subscribers of participating cable and satellite operators.

I’m a VR newb. I took my oldest and hopped on over to a local Best Buy to play around with the latest gadgets: noise-cancellation wireless over-ear headphones, smartphones, laptops, AIOs, 4K TVs, refrigerators, washing machines & dryers, etc. We agreed Beats sucks and Bose rocks, and that 4K content looks weird. The Avengers was on and Captain America looked downright silly, because his costume was so obviously a costume. Too much detail can be a bad thing when it comes to watching movies. We also agreed our Sony Trinitron HD CRT TV made watching movies enjoyable because the experience was like watching movies.

Another thing we agreed on was the Samsung Galaxy-based Gear VR system: it was really cool. Gear VR is not expensive: just US$100. If you already have the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone — like the Note 5, S6 and S7 — Gear VR is a no-brainer if you want to play around with VR without spending a lot of money. At one point in the demo, I was flying through space. I looked down, and for a split second thought I would fall. Yeah, told you I was a VR newb.

I like that NBC and Samsung want to pull in folks who are interested in VR with the 2016 Olympics, but it also limits the availability of VR to only the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone users with cable and satellite. (Although I think cord-cutters with services like Sling TV might be able to get credentialed at some cable and satellite websites.) I’m going to guess there will be a lot of bootlegged porting of NBC’s Olympic VR content to other VR systems.

Apple Patents Technology To Disable iPhone Cameras At Concerts

[ Stereogum ] Collin Robinson:

So that might be OK… assuming the technology is only used at concerts and doesn’t extend to, like, disabling phone cameras during instances of police brutality and/or sociopolitical/religious unrest.

Apple works with a lot of music companies and I’m certain some of those companies have complained loudly that concert goers have been bootlegging or live streaming concerts. I don’t know how rampant this is, but I’m sure music companies want to stop it and want Apple’s help. I wouldn’t mind a geo-fenced camera disable feature on my iPhone when it comes to concerts. I haven’t gone to a concert in many years, but I’ve seen concert videos with hundreds of phone screens. What a terrible way to experience a concert.

Google Chrome VR Shell

[ Road To VR ] Ben Lang:

Chrome Dev (one extra step back in development from Beta) now contains a ‘VR Shell’ setting which Google’s Chromium Evangelist François Beaufort says “enable[s] a browser shell for VR” which “allows users to browse the web while using Cardboard or Daydream-ready viewers.” Both options are available in the browser’s Flags page, accessed by entering chrome://flags in the URL bar.

Very early stages for browsing the web in VR. For VR internet browsing to catch on the web will need to morph, from the current 2D concept of pages to something like a 3D concept of spaces. AR — augmented reality where relevant information is placed over images and videos — will probably become an important way we browse the internet in VR.