The TV of the future - five technologies that will shape the way we watch

This week, analogue TV was switched off forever - the end of more than 70 years of analogue signals. From paper-thin televisions to TVs controlled by gestures, we chart the television technologies that will dominate the next few decades.

This week, analogue TV was switched off forever - the end of more than 70 years of analogue signals.

With the switchover, digital TV signals now reach 26 million homes and Freeview reception has now been boosted to 10 million viewers who previously lived in patchy blackspots.

But what is going to come next? From paper-thin televisions to TVs controlled by gestures, we chart the television technologies that will dominate the next few decades.


Paper-thin OLED displays

OLED (organic light emitting diode). First seen on very small screens because the cost was so prohibitive, these ultra-thin displays can produce the most vidid colours, have fast response times for gaming and sports but require very low power consumption. Samsung showed off a massive 55-inch OLED TV at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January and the ES9500 is due for release soon in the UK. There's no pricing as yet but one thing's for sure, it'll not just break the bank for most of us, it'll shatter it.

TVs with internet built in
All the major manufacturers now offer Smart TVs and they are constantly coming down in price - TVs with web connections built in. YouTube will be delivered direct to your television - along with dozens of other web-TV services. That means it can connect to the internet, either via wireless Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable, to surf the web, download apps and watch all sorts of catch-up TV and on-demand telly without the need for a computer or tablet.

YouTube channels
It's not just for cat videos - it was announced recently that YouTube were launching 60 new dedicated channels, including one by Jamie Oliver and others featuring comedy, sport and user-created content. It is programming all without a need for a traditional TV channel or production company and many technology and entertainment experts such as Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am believe it's the future.

Ultra-HD or '4K'
Just as we're comfortable with high definition comes 4K resolution. Also known as ultra-high-definition, it packs a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels into a screen - the first TVs are on sale this Christmas, with Sony's set priced at £26,000. The BBC is already looking into shooting in 4K, and directors such as Peter Jackson are shooting in 4K at the moment - when the TVs become mainstream, it will be the first time in history that the resolution of the cinema matches exactly to the way we watch at home.

TV via mobiles

The launch of 4G - using a portion of the spectrum that used to be reserved for analogue broadcasts - provides data speeds so fast that watching TV on phones will become common. Thanks to iOS to Android smartphones and tablets such as the iPad and Google Nexus 7, watching TV on the move has never been easier. Using apps for all the major catch-up sites and the likes of Sky NOW, there's a wealth of TV both past and present at your fingertips, free and paid-for.

YouView
The newest TV system on the block comes under the watchful gaze of Lord Alan Sugar and is simply a Freeview box that can stream catch-up and on-demand TV too from a range of major channels and partners. It plugs into the normal aerial socket but must be connected to a router using an Ethernet cable or Powerline adaptor as there is no Wi-Fi as yet in the first-generation model. Once using it, the TV guide is very simple to use and you can move back seven days in the programming and with a couple of clicks watch a show you missed, as long as it's available, without any hassle or confusion.