Lav-talking expert Duncan Bell gets to talk toilet tech this month. It’s urinal you’ll ever need to know.
Are TVs now so massive, so pristine and so perfect that they’re too good for mere humans?
Although I wouldn’t claim to know a lot about TVs, I do like being shown new ones, and nodding sagely while someone yaks on about ‘bezels’, ‘HDR’ and ‘Super OLED Ultra Mega Hi Definition-o-matic’. Well, it gets me out of the office.
I do feel, however, like the current generation of goggle-boxes is reaching some kind of pinnacle of frenzied tech willy-waving. Are they now so massive, so pristine and so perfect that they’re too good for us mere humans?
TVs are nearly always sold on their picture quality being ‘realistic’. But OLED 4K, at least as presented in shops and at trade shows, is not realistic at all.
It’s so ultra-vivid and hyper-real. You’ve got colours like an explosion in a Dulux factory, yet with blacks that are blacker than the interior of a broom cupboard in a black hole. At night. Motion is smoothed out to a pristine sheen, pixels are polished and bezels banished, so the image seems to hang in the air.
It’s beautiful, but it doesn’t resemble my life in any way. Maybe if I was a Kardashian, it would seem real. But although, yes, you can stand a pint glass on the perfect curve of my buttocks, and I regularly break the internet, I’m not a Kardashian. Alas.
Club too def
I suppose you may be thinking, “I bet you said that about HD!” But I didn’t. So shut it. ‘HD Ready’ 720p and then Full HD were a huge leap forward from standard definition. On a large flat screen (by which I mean about 30 inches, because that was large at the time), standard-def looked like absolute arse. The jump to HD was essential.
Now, if I’m forced to watch anything in SD, I recoil, like an aristocrat being introduced to a drunk tramp. I just don’t see myself having the same attitude to HD in a few years, if 4K becomes the norm.
It’s quite telling that when brands show off 4K HDR OLED (etc) tellies they use either mega blockbuster movies or imagery that looks like an expensive screen saver.
Of course that’s partly because there still isn’t a hell of a lot to watch in UHD. Ask any TV journalist what they think of the opening five minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road and they’ll sigh wearily, because they’ve seen it a billion times at 4K demos.
So it’s either Fury Road or some other multi-bazillion dollar FXtravaganza, or it’s slow-motion footage of gymnasts throwing paint powder at each other, somewhere frightfully picturesque.
Which is great, obviously, but what if you just want to watch Jeremy Kyle, or the news, or something on the Food Network about bros eating burgers?
Watching old YouTube clips, or a lot of the movies on Netflix, or ugly people on a telly like today’s flagships would surely be akin to using the Mona Lisa as a picnic blanket. Or taking a piss against a Henry Moore sculpture. But you can’t spend your entire life watching pretty pictures and massive explosions, can you?
It all rather reminds me of the time I purchased my first plasma screen TV. Remember them? As usual, I was pretty late to the party, and by this point plasma was already seen as yesterday’s panel. LED was the hip, swinging new telly tech.
It was in a TV shop – remember those? – as that seemed like a good place in which to buy a telly. Now, it was obvious to me that this plasma had by far the best picture, because it looked like what you might expect to see on a cinema screen.
All the LED tellies, which the assistant was hugely enthusiastic about, showed what looked like very smooth, HD CCTV footage. Everything gleamed in a way that looked totally unreal. So I bought the plasma, despite the shop guy decrying it as ‘jittery’.
To be fair, I subsequently discovered that TV shops always turn every single image-enhancing feature up to 11. So probably all those LED TVs would also have looked really good once you dialled it all back. Oh well.
Most times I see 4K UHD HDR OLED TVs, not only am I stunned by the sheer number of capital letters involved, but I get the same feeling as I did in that TV shop years ago. The visuals on these mega sets are beautiful, but they don’t feel real. If I wanted to end on a really trite note, I’d say it’s like a metaphor for the era we live in. But I don’t.