IF YOU’RE keen to keep up with the Joneses, you’re going to need a much bigger telly.
The days of 50-inch televisions being considered ‘big-screen viewing’ have disappeared, and experts say the trend to super-size home entertainment in Australian lounge rooms is accelerating at an unprecedented rate.
But while the popularity of 70-inch televisions is rising, fuelled by falling prices and 4K technology, some savvy consumers are looking for creative ways to hide the massive screens in plain sight, disguising them as family portraits, artwork, or hi-tech noticeboards.
Harvey Norman audio visual general manager Ajay Calpakam said Australian television shoppers were coming into stores with big wishlists for their next big screen, but almost all arrived with a “the bigger, the better” approach.
“We see sales of 75-inch TVs and over growing massively in our business. We’ve seen a massive shift into large televisions,” he said.
“The 55-inch TV customer has shifted now to a 65-inch TV, and that 65-inch TV customer has shifted to a 75-inch TV,” he said.
“The larger TV market will just explode in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Mr Calpakam said massive price reductions had fuelled the growth, and some buyers were overlooking top-of-the-line TV features such as voice control and QLED or OLED screens to get the biggest television in the store.
“Twelve months ago, you used to get a 75-inch television for $7999 to $9999. Now, you can get a 75-inch screen for just under $3000,” he said.
“It might not have all the bells and whistles, but for $3000 you might want to take that risk because size matters.”
But Samsung Electronics Australia audio visual head Hass Mahdi said it was important that big-TV buyers ensured their new home cinema screens offered 4K resolution, as the extra pixels were most noticeable on larger screens and allowed viewers to sit closer to their TVs.
“Four or five years ago, if you walked into a store and said, ‘I’d like a big TV, how far do I need to sit away from it,” they’d have said three times the height of the TV away,” he said.
“Now, thanks to 4K, there are so many more pixels on the screen and the ideal seating position is just 1.8m away.”
According to TV repository Rtings, the ideal viewing distance for a 4K television is between just 1.4m and 3m from the screen, as it allows the human eye to witness the biggest difference between 4K and merely high-definition video.
Mr Mahdi said Australian consumers were leading the charge for the upgrade to even bigger televisions, partly due to lifestyle reasons.
“We have the second biggest homes, on average, globally behind the US,” he said.
“It’s a little known fact worldwide that Aussies love big screens, but it’s not surprising to see the massive shift we’re seeing right now.”
But 75-inch screens obviously have potential to dominate lounge rooms, leading several manufacturers to change the design of their products, and others to reinvent them entirely.
Mr Calpakam said innovative television designs that made their appearance less obtrusive were already proving a hit with design-focused shoppers.
“The (Samsung) Frame TV had a wow factor for our customers and sold well,” he said.
“Discerning buyers are looking for more aesthetically pleasing televisions in their homes — the (LG) Wallpaper TVs, the Frame TVs. The thinner the TV, the easier it can be tucked away without being intrusive in the family home.”
A second version of Samsung’s Frame TV, which could display a family portrait or a famous work of art when turned off, is due for release later this year and will feature a more advanced version of HDR on its screen.
LG’s similarly designer-friendly Wallpaper TV is just 4mm thin, while Philips offers Ambilight televisions that light up the wall around the back of the screen with colours matching the on-screen action.
Mr Calpakam said these stylish TVs were regularly paired with equally low-key soundbars in Australia, as even aficionados eschewed complicated multi-speaker surround sound for wireless systems.
Popular soundbars currently included the new Sonos Beam that used Amazon’s Alexa assistant, Samsung’s new 7.1.4 cinema sound N950, or the Sony Z9F that promised to ‘upscale’ its audio.