Qualcomm is predicting and helping develop the first consumer 4K tablets for 2015

by on February 16, 2015

Stephan Jukic – February 16, 2015

One of the leading chip related component suppliers in the consumer electronics industry, Qualcomm is not only predicting that the first 4K tablets for the consumer market will be on the shelves in mid-2015 at the latest, they’re also working on making that a concrete reality.

4K video capture is already a widely used feature in many tablet and smartphone cameras but the actual ability to display those graphics in the same native resolution on these devices is still lacking across the board.

We’ve seen a number of devices, both smartphone and tablet, that come very close to supporting 4K display either due to their internal specs or because they take their screen resolution a minor notch above Full HD. However, nothing has yet emerged with the whole nine yards: 4K filming ability in its internal camera and a full UHD screen.

Nonetheless, Qualcomm believes that this is going to very soon change and the company expects UHD display in tablets and quite possibly smartphones well before the end of the year.

According to Tim McDonough, Qulacomm’s VP of marketing, “The first thing you’re going to see [with 4K display tech] is tablets”.

He also explained that the test and demo units the company already has in its hands for chip development already include 4K resolution on the screens, so Qualcomm itself is already privy to the results of somebody out there making development level 4K tablets that are being tested already.

In other words, Qualcomm’s prediction isn’t simply being pulled down from the thin air.

Furthermore, according to Qualcomm, the 4K tablet market will be moving forward for several specific reasons.

For starters, McDonough explains that the higher resolution of native 4K content and displays works well on a larger screen such as that on one of the bigger tablets. This makes more kinds of work much more doable in different ways. It also allows UIs to operate differently than they would with mere Full HD.

Additionally, the content created on these new generations of 4K tablets is definitely going to be a major part of their appeal and technologies like the 802.11ad WiFi standard are going to be there to make transferring that homegrown 4K content to UHD TVs very easy and attractive.

There will however be one major deterrent to large sales of 4K tablets, at least for the time being, and that’s their retail pricing. It’s going to be very steep for a while.

Currently, Panasonic’s 20 inch business tablet, the ToughPad 4K, has a production cost that would put its retail price at well over $6,000 USD.

This, more than power consumption concerns or anything else, is what makes McDonough and Qualcomm think that 4K display will first hit the tablet market well before it reaches smartphones.

He explains that “from a power perspective, we output content to a 4K display at the same power profile as 1080p, the key isn’t really power, it’s what’s the benefit you’re getting for the cost of it”.

And given the larger seizes of professional business tablet screens, the visual benefits of 4K resolution are noticeable and useful in many contexts. This is why the development of 4K tablet screens is already moving much more quickly than it is on phones.

Whether 4K resolution comes to phones or tablets faster, Qualcomm is also working intensely on making both possible through its most recent chip developments.

The most notable example of these is the new Snapdragon 810 SoC (system on a chip) processor that the company is putting into the most advanced phone and tablet models of 2015. While many of these devices likely won’t have 4K display in them, the chip itself is designed to handle the resolution if any manufacturer does decide to include it soon.

Snapdragon 810 4K capable processing chip

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor chip is part ly paving the way for the 4K tablets the company is predicting for 2015.

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