Top Set Makers Pushing The Envelope For Ultra HD TVs

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Looking to push the Ultra HD TV envelope, top-tier manufacturers are pulling out all the stops for 2014 with expanded product lineups and even a few technology breakthroughs.

The following is a look at what some the industry’s largest UHD stakeholders have to offer in display products for 2014:

LG is offering one of the industry’s broadest UHD TV lineups this year, with 16 UHD models across 10 model series, highlighted by the first two 4K UHD OLED sets, in 65 and 77 inches.

LG’s LED LCD UHD model lines include the UB9800, UB9500 and UB8500 series, carrying screen sizes ranging from 49 inches to 84 inches.

New UHD OLED models include the 65-inch 65EC9700 ($9,999) and the 77-inch 77EG9700 ($24,999) — both offering curved-screen panels.

“LG 4K OLED TV is a technological achievement that will set a new standard for the way consumers think of picture quality,” said Tim Alessi, LG Electronics USA new product development director. “Combining the stunning capabilities of this technology with the higher resolution of Ultra HD is a true game-changer.”

The company also added a pair of giant-screen UHD LED LCD TVs in the 98-inch 98UB9800 ($39,999) and the 105-inch curved screen 105UC9 ($99,999), the latter of which features a 21:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

Most UHD sets incorporate LG’s Smart TV+ WebOS connected-TV OS, offering easier-to-navigate content searches.

New LG value UHD LED LCD models include the 65-inch 65UB9200 ($2,999); three models in the new UB8200 series: the 60-inch ($2,499), 55-inch ($1,799) and 49-inch ($1,349); and the 40-inch 40UB8000 ($999).

JVC is launching three Ultra HD LED LCD TVs expected to send a heavy value message: the 55-inch DM55USR ($999), 65-inch DM65USR ($1,999) and the 85-inch DM85USR ($7,999).

All three use direct LED backlighting and have four HDMI inputs (two HDMI 1.4 ports and two HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2).

Drew Pragliola, AmTran/JVC TV sales and marketing senior VP, said the the 65-inch model adds 32 zones of LED local dimming, and the 85-inch adds 64 zones to render deeper blacks and increased contrast.

The Ultra HD TVs all feature Roku Internet streaming (Ultra HD streaming will not be immediately available for the JVC line), 240Hz refresh rates, and an advanced up-conversion system developed cooperatively between AmTran and IC chip supplier Morningstar to enhance lower-resolution content up to 2,160 by 3,840 UHD resolution. Sets also feature wider color gamuts.

Panasonic is offering a four-model UHD LED LCD TV line for 2014, all of which have THX-certification, and the company’s Fine Remaster or Fine Remaster 2 upscaling engine.

Models include a pair of edge-lit LED X800U-series sets in the 58- ($3,299) and 65-inch ($3,999) screen sizes, and advances to 65- ($6,999) and 85-inch ($13,999) models with the aforementioned Fine Remaster 2 engine, offering full-array LED and direct LED backlighting, respectively.

Polaroid has returned to the U.S. TV market and is quickly staking its claim to Ultra HD with a pair of value-focused models in the 40- and 55-inch screen sizes.

“As 4K TV’s become more affordable, customers are taking notice and are beginning to futureproof their home entertainment options in anticipation of more available 4K content coming shortly,” said Scott W. Hardy, PLR Holdings (Polaroid) president. “The new Polaroid models in both the 40- and 55- inch screen sizes are designed for consumers looking to bring their television experience to the next level but will be retailed at very competitive price points at several retail chains.”

Samsung is also offering one of the industry’s most comprehensive UHD TV lineups with 19 models across six series.

Screen sizes range from 40 inches ($999) to 105 inches ($119,999).

The company is putting a big emphasis on curvedscreen LCD UHD models, to enhance the immersive viewing experience.

“The design of Samsung’s curved TVs creates a panoramic feel that draws viewers in, making the display seem even bigger than it is,” said Dave Das, Samsung home entertainment marketing VP.

The midrange HU7250 series features a pair of curved-screen Ultra HD LED TV models in the 55- ($2,199) and 65-inch ($3,299) screen sizes.

The series, like all Samsung UHD TVs, incorporates Samsung’s proprietary Ultra HD up-scaling circuitry that up converts SD, HD and FullHD content in near-Ultra HD quality.

Seiki continues to develop a new Seiki Pro line to address its UHD TV offerings for 2014 and beyond. Frank Kendzora, TongFang Global/Seiki executive VP, said: “Our product development team for Seiki Pro 4K Ultra HDTVs is currently looking to adopt technologies such as wide color gamut panels, local dimming, advanced calibration tools, as well as OTT functionality. The goal is to produce more advanced products under the Seiki Pro innovation brand name to better compete with higherpriced models without making a technology sacrifice.”

Sharp is offering its second-generation Aquos Ultra HD line including 60- ($2,999 suggested retail) and 70-inch ($4,499) screen sizes in the new UD27 series. Both ship this month.

Key new additions to the UD27 UHD TVs is edge-lit LED lighting with Aquodimming local dimming technology for enhanced black levels and peak whites.

Also added was Sharp’s Spectros “rich color display” with a 21 percent wider color gamut than typical HDTVs.

Other elements include 120Hz LCD panel with proprietary Aquomotion 480 smooth-motion circuitry, new cosmetics and the SmartCentral 3.0 smart-TV platform with greater personalization of programming selections.

“We have several key selling points. The first is that our second-gen Aquos UD27-series Ultra HD TVs are THX 4K certified,” said Jim Sanduski, Sharp Electronics Marking Co. strategic product marketing senior VP. “That means that they have passed more than 400 picture quality tests to ensure that every pixel delivers precisely the scene the director intended.”

Sony is also offering an expansive line of 11 4K Ultra HDTVs LED LCD televisions and 4K SXRD video projectors.

“Thanks to the efforts of Sony and other leading companies, 4K Ultra HD has the potential to literally transform both the consumer electronics and home entertainment industry,” stated Mike Fasulo, Sony Electronics U.S. president.

The top LED LCD TV series in the Sony line is the X950B, offering Sony’s X-tended Dynamic Range Pro circuitry for higher dynamic range, Triluminos Display technology offering a wider color gamut, 4K X-Reality Pro up-scaling and super-resolution technology. Sony adds a smart-TV system to access a range of 4K streaming solutions, including new 4K content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and others.

The company also offers reference standard 4K home-theater projectors, including the VPLVW1100ES and VPL-VW600ES, which are receiving an update this year.

Sony’s lens-to-living room approach to UHD is also providing native UHD content through Sony Pictures and its 4K-media streaming service, and the company is a leader in producing 4K UHD camcorders and cameras to help consumers produce their own homemade UHD content.

Toshiba is rolling out value and performance in a pair of LED LCD UHD TVs with 58- and 65-inch screen sizes.

The 65-inch 65L9400 ($3,499) features the company’s Radiance 4K SuperBright full-array LED backlighting system with local dimming and super-wide color gamut technology.

The 58-inch 58L8400 ($1,999) model features an edge-lit LED LCD screen.

Toshiba also adds a third-generation Cevo 4K Quad + Dual Core engine with PixelPure 4K up-scaling and a Cloud Portal smart-TV platform.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba TV marketing VP, said the company’s five-point CQ 4K picture-enhancement engine is a difference maker.

“By combining PixelPure 4K Upscaling, Motion Interpolation, Dynamic Detail Enhancement, Color Restoration, and Dynamic Noise Reduction, we create picture quality that just makes people say ‘wow,’ ” he said.

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