Tech Transformers

This is what the future of TVs looks like...

It's the battle of the TVs

TVs are about to get brighter, have better colours and look more realistic, executives at Samsung and LG told CNBC, as the South Korean giants unveiled products this week that they hope will be snapped up over the next couple of years.

For most TV manufacturers, 4K - or ultra-high definition (UHD) – is a reason to be bullish on the market. But for LG and Samsung, the next few years will see the proliferation of so-called high dynamic range (HDR) content and the two rivals are racing to take a lead in the market.


Images shot in HDR essentially make the contrast between light and dark colours even more prominent so the white highlights are even brighter. The purpose is to make the image on screen look more realistic.

As more and more content producers look to shoot 4K HDR content, LG and Samsung are looking to get ahead of the curve and have released products at consumer electronics show IFA in Berlin this week to try and take a lead in the market.

LG unveiled what it's calling the "world's first" HDR capable 4K OLED TV. OLED is a display technology that controls how light is emitted from the TV to produce the image and is different from LCD displays.

Not to be upstaged, Samsung on Thursday announced that its current "SUHD" brand of TVs will begin supporting HDR content. Samsung also unveiled a UHD Blu Ray player. Films and programs on Blu Ray are able to be viewed in extremely high quality.

"HDR has a lot of pop, a lot of impact in the content you can see the bright highlights, the shadow details, things in the images you couldn't see before," Nandhu Nandhakumar, senior vice president of Technology Partnerships and Investments, told CNBC at IFA, explaining the appeal of HDR content.


The problem so far for manufacturers bringing 4K and HDR capable TVs onto the market has been the lack of content shot in this way. Netflix and Amazon both offer 4K content but that includes just a few shows and movies. LG and Samsung are both pushing movie studios and content creators to begin accelerating the drive towards HDR content.

"We have been in deep discussions with the major online services such as Netflix and Amazon, and we are in discussion with all the major studios in Hollywood so we are familiar with their plans. It is early but it's very clear there is this huge momentum and desire to start putting that content out," Michael Zoller, head of visual display for Europe at Samsung, told CNBC on the side lines of the IFA.

Some of those discussions have come to fruition too as Samsung and LG both announced content partnerships. LG struck a partnership with Amazon to allow users to stream some of the U.S. e-commerce giants original programs such as "Transparent" in HDR quality. Samsung has partnered with Fox so that all of their new film releases will be brought out on UHD Blu Ray with HDR for Samsung's new player.

But is it time to fork out a couple of thousands of dollars for a new TV when the market for HDR content is just beginning? That will be one of the big questions for consumers especially as the technology develops so quickly. But LG and Samsung both said their TVs are "future proof" and consumers won't have to buy a new product in a couple of years.

"It's future proof but you have to realize that in this industry, the products do improve with time, whether it is mobile phones or TVs, the rate of change is high. But the one guarantee is that the future HDR content will play on these TVs and will look good," Nandhakumar said.