It occupies a space in our heart and homes, but how much do we know about the humble TV? LG Electronics’ GM for Marketing, THOMAS VAN DER LINDE looks at the history of the television and where it might be going next.
Just when you were getting used to terms like UHD and OLED, another major new technology has emerged to wow viewers everywhere. RGBW panel design, which adds white colour subpixels to the standard red, green blue, is a major leap forward in display technology. The technology is set to replace the RGB three-colour panel system that has dominated since colour TVs first hit the market.
It’s hard to believe how far the television has come in a little under a century. As we prepare to enter a brighter age of TV thanks to RGBW, let’s look back at the journey we have taken to get to this point.
Who invented the TV?
This a source of great debate. TV was invented by degrees – a multitude of inventors came up with the technologies that define what we know as television. A few names stand out as the top contenders for the job.
A Russian called Vladimir Zworykin was the first to patent the idea for a television as we know it, then known as the Iconoscope. A few years later, Philo Farnsworth was able to produce a working prototype. Credit must also be given to John Logie Baird, who demonstrated a colour television and video-recording system and was also responsible for the first transatlantic television service.
Welcome to SA
While TV was widespread in most of the world by the end of the 1960s, South Africa was slow to catch on. The Apartheid government saw television as a threat to its dominance as it had a monopoly on radio broadcasting. By the 1970s, public demand was such that the SABC was forced to introduce its first television service.
In 1976, nationwide service of South African television finally began. The country was the last in Africa to start broadcasting. Initially, viewers only had one channel to choose from, but in 1981, a second channel was introduced, broadcasting in Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana. M-Net became the first subscription service to launch in 1986, and satellite became a reality almost a decade later in 1995.
Couch potatoes rejoice
For those of us who remember a time where you had to change the channel manually, you might be surprised to learn of the long history of the TV remote. As far back as 1893, chronic overachiever Nikola Tesla came up with the idea of a remote control. By the 1940s, the Germans were using remote control motorboats.
In 1950, the first TV control, fittingly called the Lazybone, was invented. This remote control was attached to the TV set by a bulky cable. It was not until 1955 when the first wireless remote came into being – the Flash-matic, which was shaped like a gun. By the 1980s, infrared remote controls had become commonplace.
Ever wonder why in the 1990s, your grandmother could get away with having an old set from the 1970s in her living room? This is because television technology remained static for a good few decades, barring an upgrade in material components and style! CRT technology has dominated most of TV’s life. That is until the 2000s when broadcasters began transmitting in HD, and TVs started getting slimmer, more connected and capable of better resolution.
The one big technological leap during this time was the introduction of colour TV. Although we associate black and white television with old movies from the 1950s, a man called Peter Goldmark had in fact demonstrated his colour TV system as early as 1946. By the 1960s, most sets were able to broadcast in colour. One advantage of coming to the TV game so late was that South Africa never really experienced black and white broadcasting, but was able to make the leap straight to colour.
A decade of innovation
The last 10 years have seen the greatest leap forward in television technology since the 1920s and 1930s. The reason for this rapid evolution was the switch from PAL and NTSC to HD broadcasting, which gave TV manufacturers an incentive to find new ways of improving image quality. LG has led the way, being the first to develop 60-inch plasma TV, Full HD LCD TV and full LED 3D TV.
First came LCDs, which were quickly replaced by LEDs and Plasma. Now, we speak of terms like OLED, UHD and HDR. While these technologies all work differently from each other, they each represent a step closer to providing the ultimate visual experience.
Flat, flatter, flattest
Today, flat screens are ubiquitous, but as recently as 2004, the average TV was a 27-inch CRT. Nowadays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a screen under 32 inches. Today’s screen sizes push the boundaries of what we believed was possible even five years ago – take LG’s 105-inch Ultra HD display.
At the same time as they were getting bigger, they were also slimming down. Interestingly, the first flat panel displays are not a product of the 2000s – a limited number were produced for military use in the 1950s. The first flat panel TVs were invented in 1964 but were much too expensive to mass produce using the technology available at the time.
Where will the coming decades take TVs? No-one knows for sure, although there are many exciting technologies on the horizon. Here’s to a future that’s as rich and colourful as the last 90!
Prepare for Digital TV migration
The deadline for the digital migration is fast approaching. JACQUES BENTLEY, Skyworth Southern Africa Sales Manager, lets us know what we can expect.
By now you’ve probably heard about the impending digital migration for South African broadcasting. Initially, this shift from old-school, analogue technology to newer, more efficient digital technology was set to take place in 2015 but the deadline for a national migration has been pushed out several times. With our neighbours Namibia and Botswana blazing ahead with their own digital transformations, the pressure is on for our own government to push forward to a fully digital South Africa.
But what does this overdue switch really mean for you and me?
What is digital migration?
Basically, the process involves moving over from an analogue transmission to a Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission (DTT). We currently use analogue technology, transmitting video and audio through analogue signals. The drawback of this traditional broadcasting format is that the colours, sound and brightness are heavily impacted by the quality of the signal, resulting in a less-than-ideal snowy effect, and your TV deciding to randomly fade or ghost.
Digital TV, on the other hand, boasts crystal-clear image quality and excellent sound without interference because of its land-based network of TV transmitters that broadcast digital signals. This kind of technology also allows viewers to access a wider range of channels with different programmes.
Why is it happening?
Apart from the fact that everyone wants clearer sound, more channels and an enhanced viewing experience, the conversion to digital TV also has a far-reaching goal that ultimately
aids developing nations like our own. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the objective of Broadcast Digital Transition (BDT) work is to help developing countries with their smooth journey from analogue to digital broadcasting, including terrestrial TV, mobile TV and sound broadcasting. In turn, this means that we can enjoy new broadcasting services as well as an allocation of the digital dividend.
When is it taking place?
June 2019 is D-Day for all countries to have completed their digital migration. Our Communications department is determined to meet this international deadline and has implemented a specific DTT war room to ensure that all the boxes are ticked, and they can deliver on time.
The first province to undergo the digital migration was the Free State back in August, where digital Set-Top Boxes (STBs) were launched in Senekal. Essentially, STBs decode digital signals for old, box-style TV sets and the government aims to distribute these devices to about 5-million poor households, so that all citizens can enjoy prime TV, despite their financial situation. In fact, Skyworth is one of the chosen suppliers of these set-top boxes and is proud to be a core part of an all-inclusive transition to digital.
What can you do about it?
While the government has agreed to subsidise cash-strapped consumers with STBs, the only guarantee is that the digital migration is upon us and it is our responsibility to digitally transform our homes in order to meet the requirements. This means that you’ll either need to invest in a digital-ready TV or purchase your own STB to work with your current TV’s analogue signal. Whichever route you decide to go, you can look forward to exceptional viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.
5 things you should ask about buying a new TV
With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.
Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).
- Size matters
If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.
- Is it digital-ready?
South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.
- Does it have a 4K screen resolution?
Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.
- What will you be using your TV for?
Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.
- Does it include cutting-edge technology?
From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.