Why the Convergence of Touch-Screen TVs, Tablets Is Inevitable

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2015-01-21 Print this article Print
Touch Screen TVs

The convergence of giant TVs and tablets with touch displays will inevitably replace today's PC paradigm in homes, businesses and enterprise conference rooms.

A product announced (but not shipped) during the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 year gives us a preview of a transformative category of products that will dominate the next few CES sessions starting next year—the giant touch screen tablet/TV.

The company, called Fuhu, exhibited a big Android tablet for children and families. How big?

It's not 13 inches, as a future rumored Apple iPad is supposed to be. It's not 15 inches, as are the screens of many laptops. The "tablet" is 65-inches diagonally.

The Fuhu Nabi Big Tab XL also functions as a TV. (But so does my iPad.) It's powered by Nvidia's new Tegra X1 processor supported by 4GB of RAM. Fuhu's Blue Morpho user interface runs on top of Android 5. The UI enables separate child and parent modes.

Fuhu is also planning smaller sized living room touch tablets, as well, and we can expect to see them in the 2015 fourth quarter.

I believe the Fuhu Nabi Big Tab XL gives us a glimpse not only of the living room of the future, but the boardroom, office and home office of the future. I think big-screen touch devices will largely replace high-end desktop computers in the years ahead.

Microsoft has thus far been the undisputed leader in what Fox News calls BATs (big-ass displays). Microsoft started work on their giant tablet computer way back in 2001.

The original Surface computer was made by Microsoft and shipped to vertical customers in 2008. Microsoft partnered with Samsung to create the systems. Before launching their tablet computing platform, they moved the Surface branding over to the tablet and renamed the big-screen touch platform PixelSense.

Microsoft bought a company called Perceptive Pixel in 2012, which sold 80-inch displays for about $80,000 each. Perceptive Pixel makes most of the big-screen touch displays you see on TV news. The biggest challenge for Microsoft to mainstream big-screen touch tablets—sell them in large quantities to both consumers and enterprises—is cost. But costs have already dropped massively.

The 55-inch Perceptive Pixel computer costs $7,500, but Microsoft promises to bring the price down. Devices chief Stephen Elop said that Microsoft would mass-produce them.

When the cost drops below $3,000, I believe "BATs" will become a mainstream platform for home, business and enterprise computing.

Ultimately, there are four reasons why touch displays will take over.

1. TV makers need to sell high-resolution TVs

Companies that make hardware need to keep pushing the envelope in order to drive new sales. TVs have to get better. PCs have to get better.

Let's start with TVs. There's really no such thing as a TV anymore. The only living room product being hyped at CES were big, beautiful screens called TVs, but in fact they're app-running, Internet-connected tablet computers that currently lack screen-touch control.

CES ushered in better-than-4K displays, which includes displays up to 8K in resolution. The trouble is that, from the couch, 4K is really all the resolution the human eye can discern. However, up close at touch range 8K looks vastly superior to 4K.

Meanwhile, we're still a long way from wide availability of even 4K content; 8K content is many years into the future.

The only way manufacturers are going to sell 8K TVs is by making them compelling to use up close in addition to watching TV.

Meanwhile, PCs will get better by emulating the touch-control, app stores and other features of smartphones and tablets, but with more processing power and bigger screens.

This is the Apple strategy, articulated by the late founder and CEO Steve Jobs: "Trucks" (OS X devices) will always exist, but only for some people. Most people will use "Cars" (iOS devices). The iOS platform will run Apple's mainstream desktop computers of the future and they will be large.


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