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Newcomers To The UHD Party Ready Launches

NEW YORK – As a handful of tier-one brands helped launch the flat-panel Ultra HD TV category over the past year and half, the field of hungry newcomers and prudent products readied their initial offerings for the latest standards.

The following is glance at a few second- or third-tier brands and a notable top-tier player that will be making a charge to advance the field and help to push Ultra HD price points into the more affordable range for the masses:

Hisense began shipping its first Ultra HD TV at the end of 2013, and will expand assortment to a total of eight models across two series, all featuring smart TV functionality.

The highlight is the H9 series, which ships in the third quarter, with 75- ($6,000 suggested retail) and 85-inch ($8,000) flat-screen models and 55- ($1,900) and 65- inch ($2,600 curved screen LED LCD models, all including 240Hz refresh rates, HDMI 2.0 inputs, Smart 3D TV and HEVC decoding. The latter two include the company’s VIDAA user interface.

The entry UHD H8 series, which ships now and through the spring includes two sets of 55- and 65-inch models with 120Hz refresh rates and HDMI 1.4 inputs. Prices start at $1,400 and $2,100, respectively.

JVC by AmTran Video (AVC) is adding Ultra HD TVs to its lineup for the first time this year, said Drew Pragliola, JVC/AVC sales VP. Ultra HD models will be offered in 65- and 85-inch screen sizes. Both will be offered at value price points when they ship in August and September.

The JVC Ultra HD models will all include the latest HD standards, such as 4K/60p-compliant HDMI ports, and HEVC decoding, Pragliola said.

JVC will be pitching its Ultra HD sets as “risk-free,” meaning they will avoid obsolesce by incorporating the latest standards. Pragliola added that the models will incorporate advanced up-scaling technology to properly present lower-resolution material on Ultra HD screens.

“We continue to increase our brand share within each one of our partners, and the ability to get UHD products on the floors is huge for the retailer,” Pragliola said. “The consumer holds the JVC brand to a higher standard and AmTran holds JVC to a higher standard as well. It just needs to be demonstrated on the floor, and given its fair share; it will outperform most of the competition.”

RCA by On Corp. will roll out three Ultra HD models including the 55-inch SLD55A65RXQ, 65-inch SLD65A70RXQ and 84-inch SLD84A65RXQ.

In addition to Ultra HD resolution, the sets include an Android-based integrated onscreen smart-TV interface with access to apps and online content.

Vizio will be watched closely as the industry’s Ultra HD wild card this year, as it launches its first two Ultra HD series: the entry Ultra HD P series and the flagship Reference series, featuring Dolby Vision standard certification.

All of Vizio’s sets in 2014 feature LED backlighting with various levels of local dimming for maximum black level, color detail and saturation.

The Reference series will arrive later in the year in 65- and 120-inch screen sizes (pricing and availability on all Ultra HD models will be announced later).

The Reference-series sets offer a High Dynamic Range display using a bright 800-nit backlight with 384-zone full-array local dimming. The company is among a handful of manufacturers embracing Dolby Vision standards and content.

The Vizio P-series core Ultra HD line will ship a little before the Reference series in 50-, 55-, 60-, 65- and 70-inch screen sizes. Many of the features will be the same as those in the Reference series, with only 64 zones of local dimming. P-series models will offer a Wi-Fi Direct universal remote control.