Not content with showing-off this year's new range of TVs and home cinema systems, JVC also used the Prague conference to show off some exciting future tech.
Most exciting (or worrying, depending on how you feel about these things) was more news on 4K2K. You see, according to JVC's Masanori Kitami, we are now "at the limit of this [Full HD] technology", and the future lies in higher resolution viewing.
4K2K is the name given to this next generation of high-definition, and refers to the products' resolution of 4096x2400. JVC showed a prototype projector using a slightly lower resolution of 4096x2160 a little while ago, but has now announced that the production model, the DLA-SH4K has the higher resolution and will be available for order from next month. The actual release date and pricing of the new model is yet to be confirmed, but expect it to be available exclusively to the super-rich and professional installers.
Many will wonder if we really need or even want to go beyond Full HD at this stage, but JVC is adamant that this is the future. It claims that trial broadcasting of 4K2K television will begin in 2011, and that Japan's NHK will roll-out full 4K2K broadcasts to coincide with the 2016 Olympics, which Tokyo is bidding to host. To this end JVC is planning an array of 4K2K products, from more projectors, to camcorders and LCD TVs.
Somewhat less controversial was the demonstration of JVC's new LED backlighting system for LCD TVs. This consists of 1052 sets of red, green and blue LEDs, which light-up or dim independently. This means that one area of a picture can be bright and punchy, whilst another can be almost pitch black, and results in a claimed contrast ratio of 100,000:1 in a single image. I have to say, the demo we were shown was very impressive, and it will be nice to test the technology ourselves when it becomes available in the next year or so.
As the other advantage of LED backlighting is an even slimmer TV cabinet, obvious comparisons can be drawn between it and OLED. JVC admitted that it's a big fan of the rival technology, but claims that it is held back somewhat by a fairly short lifespan (25,000 hours as opposed to LED backlighting's 50,000), and the difficulties of manufacturing large OLED screens.
JVC believes that another theme for the next few years will be better control of our home entertainment devices, particularly the TV. The first demo they showed was a simple but smooth and stylish channel 'card' system that is used for switching channels and inputs. Each card carries the logo of the channel it represents, with the system looking rather like the album Cover Flow feature of iTunes. Apparently users will be able to group individual channels for easy searching. All-in-all the feature looked really fantastic and very close to finished. We may even see it on JVC TVs sometime next year.
More ambitious was a prototype of a TV that has "snap and gesture recognition". A camera and microphone were built into the TV itself so that it can respond to the user directly. To turn the TV on you click your fingers or clap three times, to turn it off you do the same four times, and to change channel you 'grab' images onscreen. Honestly, it looked like the technology was in the very early stages of development and seemed a little bit 'Austin Powers', but none-the-less, gesture recognition could be a trend to look out for.