A brief history of displays

CRT, LCD, LED and other acronyms

Most of us remember when at 32″ TV was the biggest we’d likely see in a living room, mostly because such a television in the CRT days was a colossus of a machine, almost as deep as it was wide. Then came the dawn of a new age in TV, the biggest paradigm shift since colour, the flat-screen.

With the advent of Plasma and liquid crystal displays (LCD), the age of the CRT was over. A 32″ TV is seen as a standard nowadays, even bordering on small. (I have to admit to calling the 32″ TV in the office “the wee one”). At mere millimetres in thickness, screen size has erupted. It’s not uncommon to see 50″+ attached to a living room wall, or even in the kids room.


The Rise, or resurrection, of HDTV

Shortly after the advent of Flat-screens we saw a shift in detail. Initially a plasma or LCD tv would look inherently more defined that an CRT television, even with the same input. Something had to be done to improve detail to make the most of these bigger screens. This is where HD came in, at around 4 times the detail of a typical video, HD was the wave of the future. Flat-screens and DVD’s developed hand in hand, but resolution was still an issue, HD looked to bring out favourite shows and movies to life. Seeing individual blades of grass, the stubble on a mans face when several meters away from the camera.

High Definition television was not something new, it pre-dated the flatscreen by several decades. NHK in Japan released the first consumer HDTV with a resolution approximate to that of modern HD (1080p). Unfortunately, and even after many successful broadcasts around the world, the age of analogue TV was just not meant to be. The analogue bandwidth to support such a broadcast was too much for standard networks to handle, only satellite services could provide the service. The other fly in the ointment for analogue HD was the lack of a standardised format.

Fast forward to the millennium. Satellite TV was a stable in many homes, along with fibre provided cable services that could handle the workload. The HD TV era began and now almost everything we watch is HD ready, even budget TV’s are capable of the slightly lower quality 720p HD variant.


What’s Next?

The new standard for television will be 4K. Called as such as it represents 4 times the amount of details as a typical HD display (1080p is loosely referred to as 1k). These televisions are already making their way into the homes of the average person, not just the super-rich who tend to be the only ones who can afford the early models. It’s likely 4k will succeed in being a new standard, thanks to the compatible technologies it’s already apparent that there is a suitable standard format for every one to use.

Curved, Bendable, 3D?

While 3D has been around again, it still never surpassed the novelty aspect. While many reasonably priced TV’s will have 3d support, it is no longer the massive sales driver it once was, albeit for a short few years. Now it’s all about the form-factor of the television and the display technology behind it. Plasma TV’s are a thing of the past, they were cheap and could be made large but image quality was surpassed by LED TV’s a while ago. No it’s about OLED, ULED, AMOLED and other variations thereof, each with it’s own benefit. We are also seeing more and more curved TV’s on the market. This is to bridge the gap between the gimmicky 3D, and immersing yourself. Curved TV’s are already on the consumer market and at ever decreasing prices.



With the curved LED display being a reality, the next up is the bendable display. This will allow people to have the TV flat against the wall while not in use, or just a preference depending on the content being watched, and to then have it bend at will to immerse yourself in the latest blockbuster.

These bendable TV’s are already being produced but are still at the concept phase.

For now it looks like curved and 4K is where our next purchase will be in the long run, with 3D just becoming a standard gimmick for many TVs.

*Editors note- a quick side-note about something that bugs me and causes untold confused among the masses. Quad-HD, as many phones are now using, is not the same as 4K, it is four times the resolution of the lower HD variant, 720P, clearly an intentional ambiguous use of the term Quad HD. In actual fact it is double that of actual HD (1080p). Still impressive but not the 4K you’ll see on the small screen (still crazy we refer to our TV’s as that)

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