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Ultra HD 4K Offerings Highlight CE Week

7/07/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK – Ultra High-Definition TV (a.k.a. 4K) was the hot topic of the recent Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)-sponsored CE Week Line Shows event here as Sharp, Westinghouse Digital, and Toshiba made key new product announcements, and Technicolor pushed its 4K upconversion certification.

Sharp started off the industry trade showcase by unveiling its first Ultra HD edge-lit LED LCD TV.

The 70-inch set, which will carry a $7,999 price under Sharp’s unilateral pricing policy when it goes on sale in August, is the first in the Sharp line to offer as much as 3,840 by 2,160 resolution.

The set is also one of the first edge-lit LED LCD TVs in the industry to carry THX Ultra HD certification.

At International CES in January, Sharp had played up the extra resolution afforded by its latest version of Quattron quad-pixel technology as offering better picture quality than many competitive 4K TVs using 1080p-to-4K upscaling technology.

“Just when you thought our television viewing experience had reached the pinnacle, along comes Sharp’s Ultra High-Definition LED televisions — a television that re-defines the breakthrough television viewing experience, an experience that redefines possible by revealing an image depth and clarity that is truly mesmerizing and revolutionary,” said John Herrington, Sharp Electronics Marketing Co. of America president.

Jim Sanduski, Sharp strategic product marketing VP, said Sharp’s new 4K set will incorporate a dual-core processor, and an Ultra HD processing chip driven by Sharp-developed up-conversion algorithms to deliver one of the best up-scaled 4K pictures in the industry.

The company will also offer four HDMI 1.4 ports compatible with some Ultra HD content, if and when that arrives, as well as an SD card capable of playing back better-than-4K digital stills and movie clips. It will also include a high-speed USB input compatible with 4K material.

Sanduski said the Sharp 70-inch Ultra HD TV will also incorporate a built-in 35-watt multi-speaker, dual-subwoofer sound system with separate midrange, tweeter and subwoofer drivers built into the front-firing array.

The set will be 3D capabable and will ship with two pairs of active-shutter 3D glasses. It also features Sharp’s SmartCentral smart-TV system, with a host of Cloud-based streaming and entertainment apps, an open web browser and split-screen web browsing/TV watching capability. Android and iOS devices can be used to control the TV via a remote control app. Content from the devices can be shared via built-in Wi-Fi.

When not watching TV, wallpaper mode can be used to turn the TV into a 70-inch picture frame.

“This is our best designed TV, ever,” Sanduski said, adding that the “4K format’s ability to reproduce fine detail is best showcased on larger screens.”

The company will distribute the set through UPP partner dealers including local specialty A/V, custom installer and CE chains with regional and national footprints.

The set will offer improved image quality, but Sharp executives were hesitant to say if it would produce the same award-winning black level, contrast and color performance as the company’s Elite branded FullHD LCD TVs, which are on a temporary hiatus.

Toshiba brought a sample of three new L9300U-series second-generation Ultra HD TVs, which were previously unveiled at International CES last January, to the event, and announced a new Ultra HD TV up-converting Bluray Disc player certified by Technicolor.

The TVs will start to ship in August in the 58-, 65- and 84-inch screen sizes at suggested retails of $4,999, $6,999 and $16,999, respectively.

All incorporate Toshiba’s Cevo 4K Quad+Dual Core image processor and Cloud TV access and apps, built-in Wi-Fi, Miracast and WiDi.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba product marketing and development VP, digital products division, said the company will roll out a special retail end cap as part of its 4K Ultra HD TV promotional efforts later this summer.

The end cap will be offered to retailers that have a sales person who can help explain the new technology to customers, and will feature a Toshiba L9300- series 4K TV plus a new Blu-ray player with 4K upscaling and the new SBX 5065 soundbar.

Ramirez said consumers need 4K explained to them and a demo that will show them what the technology can deliver.

The end cap will include seven built-in 4K demos that will run off the connected BDX-6400 Blu-ray player.

The BDX-6400 Blu-ray drive, shipping in August at $299, features Toshiba’s UDE 4K up-scaling engine and a two-stage picture quality-enhancement system. It is 4K Technicolor certified.

The first stage turns content into what Ramirez called “superior 1,080p” or the best possible image that can be obtained from the source signal. The second stage up-scales the signal to 4K.

However, since Toshiba 4K TVs already come with built-in 4K up-scaling technology, the second stage will only kick in when the BDX-6400 is connected to another brand of 4K TV, Ramirez said.

The player is set to use the Toshiba up-scaling technology regardless if the television has similar capabilities. However, if the user wishes, the Toshiba up-scaling can be turned off by going into the devices settings.

Ramirez said including the up-scaling capability in the TVs and Blu-ray player is essential due to the initial dearth of 4K content available.

No additional information was given on the soundbar.

Toshiba’s retail plans include creating and making available a training app for sales associates, and the program will be supported by a wideranging media campaign, Ramirez said.

Meanwhile, Westinghouse Digital showed a new 84-inch 4K Ultra HD Interactive Whiteboard for the eduction and corporate markets. The $15,000 display, which can receive an optional full PC module that attaches to the display as a set-back box, operates like a giant touchscreen tablet that will display UHD TV and video. Users can touch and swipe the screen to change channels or surf the web, or they can draw onscreen images with a finger tip.

It uses a proprietary six-point touch system to provide, said Rey Roque, Westinghouse Digital marketing senior VP.