Regardless of how fast technology is moving, when you take a look at ‘home theater’, we’ve pretty much hit a null point. By this I mean that everyone can take a deep breath and chill out for a few years, because while there are going to be new product introductions, we’re pretty well set up to deliver great sound and vision, along with excellent user interfaces. So if your customers are asking about what’s next and should they wait, here’s a brief recap of today’s edge-of-the-art and what lies down the road.
The most talked about and relevant issue when it comes to home theaters is picture quality. 4K UHD is where we’re at and it will be some time before there are any more great leaps in resolution. Yes, we are seeing some 8K products and NHK broadcasts some 8K content for the Japanese market. Various manufacturers have committed to have 8K TVs ready (at somewhat reasonable prices!) on the market in time for the 2020 Olympics, which will be held in Japan. That being said, Kaleidescape, Apple TV, and Roku are focused on producing 4K picture quality and won’t be considering 8K versions for some years. So get your 4K UHD TV and call it a day.
Picture quality is more than just pixels. It is about the viewing experience. Looks matter. With today’s TVs looking slim, thin and sleek, and with curved screens moving firmly into the large screen arena, there isn’t much else manufacturers can do to make the products look any nicer.
With the move towards voice activation, Alexa, Google, and Siri are turning on television sets, changing channels, adjusting volume and lighting. And with media servers (or cloud-based storage) coming down in price, accessing one’s film library is becoming stupid simple. Until we make the move to gesture recognition, it’s never been easier to turn on and tune out.
With 3D glasses or virtual reality goggles, the viewer can now feel like they are in the movie. Critics debate the potential with this though, because 3D died an ugly, premature death and who wants to go through that again? But the potential here is great, because it’s a new form of home entertainment that piggy-backs on the massive gaming industry. This will definitely be a growth segment to watch out for – and to piggyback on (like home gaming entertainment in general).
With Dolby Atmos and the tons of great audio products on the market, there really hasn’t been a better time to put together a killer surround sound system at very affordable prices. We might not have reached the ultimate levels of fidelity, but we’re pretty darn close right now. And with options ranging from wireless to in-wall, there really isn’t anything on the horizon anyone should be holding out for.
So we’ve reached the point where the best home theater set-ups are probably not going to be eclipsed for a good many years – my guess is anyone investing in a premiere system today is good to go until about 2024. And that’s a century in technology evolutionary years!