In excess we trust: Let us now praise over-the-top tech

4K HDTVs, fuller-than-full-size phablets -- we scoff at them for the moment, but we'll all covet them soon enough

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Size matters

The other contender is actively trying to invalidate Shmoe's tiny-screen objection to mobile erotica. Huawei's honking Ascend Mate 2 LTE phablet is an engineering megamarvel that tiptoed into being at the Las Vegas Convention Center with the understated elegance of a Kardashian at low tide. Imagine a communications device roughly the size of your head that won't fit in any pocket outside a Samsonite and delivers groundbreaking engineering in the form of a larger battery, as well as the ability to share that juice with your other electronic devices via a USB charging port, thus combating the growing possibility of USB extinction we're witnessing in the wild.

Again, despite inherent engineering wizardry, the Ascend Mate 2 shone in only one of my two desired disciplines. Its marketing campaign came in a distant 1,715th at CES behind the dancing taxidermist squirrels (a real thing). I needed something that exalted them both.

Then I realized it had been staring me in the face all along. The Hidden Hotness had been hiding in highly pixelated plain sight: 4K TVs.

Fork it over for 4K

"Oh, by Zuckerberg's impacted testicles, Cringely," you might sigh in an exasperated tone. Maybe that would just be me. In any case, I understand that on the surface, 4K television might seem an overly obvious swing-and-a-miss for the dual-disciplined, exalted excellence that is the Hidden Hotness moniker. After all, at their estimated initial price of $100,000.99 (or three bitcoins), only Lindsay Lohan's lawyers could afford one.

Also, no one knows when they'll be showing up in real life, so we don't know when to move our children into the furnace room to make space for it. Outside of Netflix, no one is committing to creating 4K content; even if you enrolled your kids in Apex Tech rather than Yale and purchased one, then managed to heave the Brobdingnagian thing into your house, there wouldn't be anything to watch. Finally, you just got used to seeing Terry Bradshaw's crusted nasal hair in HDTV -- what's to care about yet another high-def standard?

They're all cogent arguments, and they're all beside the point. We gurgled these objections into our collective drinks 15-plus years ago when we were all scoffing at HDTV, which was then still soaked and crawling from its R&D birth canal. The similarities are exact: massive price, foggy release schedules, ridiculous size rumors, and a who-needs-it market attitude. A decade and a half later, your children burst into tears when you show them the CRT TV you had in college while playing your wedding video off VHS.

HDTV was vilified by most of us back then ... right up until the day we actually saw one. The droplets of spittle flying out of Bill Cowher's mouth as he threatened a ref's infant son, the new wrinkle on Katie Couric's forehead that makeup couldn't cover, the gaping vacuum behind the eyes where a soul would be on every reality-show contestant -- we didn't know these wondrous nuances of entertainment existed before we caught a glimpse of them in glorious 1080p, when they instantly became an integral and ubiquitous part of our active couch lives.

The same will happen for 4K. I wish all of you could have been at CES, wandering through the 4K exhibits, high on drink and the massive, cornea-captivating visuals, and ecstatic that they'd soon be gracing the groaning walls where your kids' bunk beds used to be. They're the pinnacle of gratuitous engineering, no doubt. And the fact that most of us were so giddy with a glance at 4K that we were unable to even conceive of the four little arguments I just made until we got home and reluctantly regrounded our lives in the cold gray cement of HD LCD, that's a testament to spectacular marketing. It sweeps aside reason and instills only the ravenous need for unmanageable credit card debt.

In short, 4K is the bifecta that truly exemplifies the Hidden Hotness. I, for one, will be the poorer for having seen it, probably next Christmas at Best Buy.

What tech breakthrough will you sell your firstborn for? Post your best offers in the comments below or via email: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "In excess we trust: Let us now praise over-the-top tech," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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