IFA: New UHD TVs Abound (Curved, Flat & Bendable)

Berlin — TV makers are hoping and praying for the sake of their bottom lines that Ultra HD really takes off.
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Berlin — TV makers are hoping and praying for the sake of their bottom lines that Ultra HD really takes off.

Here at IFA, all Ultra HD makers are quickly expanding and diversifying their product selections with flat Ultra HDs, curved Ultra HDs, wide Ultra HDs and bendable Ultra HDs — and, in one case, one model that encompasses all four varieties.

Also unveiled at IFA are new 4K media servers, 4K camcorders and even 4K soundbars. In addition, several TV makers unveiled a new European Ultra HD logo.

Samsung announced two new curved products: what the company claimed to be the first bendable Ultra HD (LG displayed a bendable Ultra HD at International CES, but no word if it’s actually available) and largest (105-inch 21:9) curved Ultra HD LED TV, and an 8.1-channel HW-H7500/H7501 curved soundbar (price and availability to be announced), designed to match the company's 55- and 65-inch curved UHDs.

Earlier this summer, Samsung started selling its non-bendable 105-inch 21:9 Ultra HD for around $150,000. No price or availability was attached to the bendable version.

The curved soundbar features a radius of 4,200mm, which matches the curvature of Samsung's curved Ultra HD TVs, including the bendable model.

Following up on this summer's initial release of its 65-inch 9809 Ultra HD smart TV powered by Android, Philips/TP Vision has added three new models: 55- and 65-inch 9100-series models featuring the company's unique four-sided Ambilight rear backlighting, a 55-inch curved 8900 series with three-sided Ambilight, and 49- and 55-inch 7100 series models with two-sided Ambilight.

All the sets include 300 games as part of Philips/TP Vision's partnership with OnLive Games over its GameCloud platform.

The new models bring Philips/TP Vision's Ultra HD selection to 13 SKUs from just a single model last year. All the new models will be available first in Europe and Russia later this year; no availability was announced for the U.S.

Following Sony and Samsung, Philips will be selling a 4K server, the Ultra HD 880 media player, in the first quarter next year for 249 euros or free to consumers who buy any of Philips Ultra HD in the 9800, 9100, 8900 or 8800 series. The Android L-based server will deliver HEVC/H.265-encoded content, received by the player via Wi-Fi, Ethernet or USB. The player will be upgradable to support any new HEVC video streaming offerings from video service providers developed for the Android platform.

To provide enhanced sound for its TVs, Philips, via its alliance with Gibson, presented its modular Fidelio B5 soundbar. The ends of the soundbar detach and, via a Bluetooth connection, can be spread apart for a wider three-channel surround sound. These detached speakers will run for five hours on their internal batteries for music and 10 for movie sound. No U.S. price or availability was announced, but the B5 will go on sale in Europe in October for 899 euro.

Panasonic made three disparate product presentations at its IFA press event: the world's first 60p 4K prosumer camcorder, the HC-X1000 ($3,599, late October); the AX900 (price and availability TBA), 55- and 65-inch 4K HDTVs with no stand — they're designed to be leaned; and the rebirth of its audiophile Technics brand via two high-end systems.

The HC-X1000, which is able to record 4K 60p/50p AVCHD video to twin SD cards, features a Leica Dicomar f1.8/11 lens, a new BSI sensor, a 20x optical zoom lens, a 3.5-inch LCD screen and full manual focus, zoom and iris ring control.

Not only do the AX900 Ultra HD TV models employ a Direct LED with full-array local dimming, but the sets virtually eliminate the "halo" effect around bright, moving objects by analysing the incoming video signal across a 5 by 5 matrix, rather than the usual 3 by 3, and adjust brightness levels by extremely fine degrees.

To support the HC-X1000 4K camcorder, the AX900 includes four 4K/60p-supporting HDMI 2.0 terminals and a DisplayPort, and the company hopes to make the smart Ultra HD compatible with 4K Netflix and original Amazon studio content streaming. No price or availability was announced.

Details of the company’s relaunch of its audiophile Technics brand are here.

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