The TV of the future - 'Ultra HD', curved screens and voice control

Jonathan Weinberg

The television of the future will be far sharper than today's best hi-def sets - and could be voice-controlled and even curved.

This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showed off new technologies such as 'Ultra HD' - four times crisper than today's 'Full HD' sets - and gesture controls, as well as ultra-thin 'Organic LED' sets.

There was much less fanfare around 3D, and only a few of the annual headline-grabbing "world's largest" TV sets - instead, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp are focusing on improving picture quality and hi-tech new functions such as voice commands and web connections.

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Much of the showfloor TV space has been filled with Ultra High-Definition televisions, which will eventually replace that 1080p 'Full HD' set you watch each night from the sofa.

The most common resolution of 'Ultra HD' is 4K, which has four times the number of pixels as HD.

These are the small dots making up the screen image and 4K gives a resolution of 3840x2160 against the current 1920x1080 HD standard.

The TVs can show footage at roughly the same resolution as the cameras used to shoot digital films.

'Ultra HD' won't come on discs - instead, home users will download the films via broadband. Sony is to launch a download service in the U.S. this summer.

Quality though doesn't come cheap. Sony's current 84 inch 4k model costs around £17,000 and despite the Japanese giant promising to make 4K affordable for everyone, its forthcoming 55 and 65 inch UHD TVs are sure to be out of reach of most for a few years yet.

It took at least three years for HD to become affordable and mainstream on the high street from its CES debut and the same is predicted to be true of UHD.

Jonathan Marsh, home technology expert at John Lewis, said: "TVs always spark excitement at CES and this year hasn't been a disappointment.

"Many manufacturers unveiled Ultra High-Definition sets at this year's show – the latest TV innovation tipped to deliver a staggeringly realistic picture and the ability to show 3D content in better than HD quality.

"As with 3D, Ultra HD is likely to suffer from the lack of content available, but that could change quickly. UHD TV will be the standard by 2020."

That lack of content is clear with TV companies only just fully embracing HD and 3D.

Sony is also developing a 4K version of OLED display technology. OLED has been used in mobile phones for years and Apple's Retina display was designed to rival the OLED, which for example is used on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

However, it is very expensive to produce and LG's new non-4K 55 inch OLED itself costs around £8,000.

And there's no price-tag on Panasonic's unique 56 inch OLED created by 3D printing technology, which means if you have to ask, you surely can't afford one.

Mr Marsh added the trend for the next 12 months will see British consumers upgrading their screen size. He explained: "Big screen technology has improved dramatically and as larger TVs become more affordable, they are fast becoming the norm for consumers who want a more immersive entertainment experience at home.

"John Lewis figures show 64% of TV sales have been screen sizes of 40 inch plus since August 2012."

Alongside picture quality and screen size, the other TV evolution at CES continues to be the slow demise of the remote control and further attempts to have Smart TVs with apps and the internet on board take over our lives.

Samsung has enhanced its voice and motion controls letting you swipe through on-screen menus with hand gestures and allowing you to ask the TV to put on shows based on their actors.

It has even brought out a little box called the Evolution Kit that will plug into existing 2012 models to make sure they're not outdated just a year after you bought one.

New S-Recommendation technology learns what you watch and do on your TV to automatically offer personalised content choices while in a bid to battle Apple TV, owners can now "mirror" what's on their Samsung Galaxy tablets and mobile phones, showing it on the bigger screen.

Another attempt to mimic the success of Apple TV sees Archos bringing out a £99 device next month that plugs into any HDTV. It will then turn it "smart" by giving full access to Android and Google Play for games, the internet and streaming online video.

And in a nod to the future, lesser-known TV manufacturer Haier raises the prospect of a telly controlled by your eyes, selecting channels and options by blinking and moving through menus with the direction of your eyeballs. It's also claiming to work on a TV controlled simply by thought and brain waves.

However, the one TV revolution not seen at CES is any attempt by Apple to enter the television market. Experts are widely predicting 2013 will see the iPhone and iPad maker unveil its first purpose-built TV set as it makes a bid to take over our front rooms.