How big can a television screen get before it's no longer considered a "television" screen?
That was the question posed to Jean Pierre Jutras, a training specialist for Samsung Electronics Canada, as he took time showing off his company's latest achievement in home entertainment at Advance Electronics Tuesday afternoon: the Samsung S9 ultra HD LED TV, measuring a sizable 85 inches across.
If you like to be closer to the action, this could be what you're looking for.
"It's all a question of taste," Jutras said. "It's the same as a movie theatre: Some people sit in the front and some people sit in the back. Those who sit in the front would love a large screen like this in their house."
It's also for those who live in a world where price is no object. Gone are the days where a top-end 40-inch high-definition flat screen would set an audio/video fanatic back $1,000 or so. The S9 Ultra comes in at a whopping $40,000, Jutras said, making it "simply a specialty item" for those who forgive cost as a factor when purchasing something to stare at before going to bed.
"You can fit four full HD 40-inch TVs inside the screen of this one," he said, adding the S9 Ultra HD is like a computer or cellphone, allowing for specific updates when newer technology and software upgrades become available. "This is not a TV someone is going to be buying as their second or third TV in their home. This is a centrepiece."
Jutras didn't have the current sales numbers in front of him, but he said Samsung has sold a few. "We'd love to sell 100 this year," he said.
There are some reservations about the dent ultra-high-definition (UHD) televisions can make in the market. Think back 15 years ago when HDTV exploded on the scene. The major issue was a lack of HD programming available for broadcast on an HD television. The same limitations apply to UHD: What good is it if the quantity of content to watch on it hasn't arrived yet?
Pair this with the initial inflated cost of new electronic gadgets and expect a slow growth toward giant 85-inch (or higher) television screens, says Caleb Denison, a writer for the tech review website Digital Trends.
"Looking back, it took about four years just for HD programming to get a foothold, and even longer before we were able to get true HDTV programming in any kind of quantity," Denison wrote earlier this year. "Can we expect content providers to adopt ultra HD any faster this time around? We think not. There are quite a few new challenges to meet, and it's going to take some time to deal with them."
This gap in service may not discourage those craving cutting-edge home theatre.
Typically, a high-definition television carries a screen with two million pixels, regardless of screen size. But as you increase the screen size, the picture performance tends to decline (the pixels become visible to the naked eye, creating a fuzzy image).
Ultra-high-definition screens have eight million pixels. In his training work with people at Advance Tuesday, Jutras said they were "completely blown away" by the level of detail and clarity of the image on the screen.
"We had some scenery from the Grand Canyon playing on it and one customer said it felt like he was standing on the edge," he said. "He had to back up; it was too close to reality."