NEW YORK – The Ultra HD TV picture for the 2014 holiday season became a little sharper as a handful of manufacturers revealed launch specifics for additional models slated to hit retail floors in coming weeks.
Sharp, LG, Samsung and TCL made significant model launch announcements, with virtually all incorporating the latest specs and standards for native Ultra HD content, during CE Week in late June. These include HDMI 2.0 (supporting 3,840 by 2,160 resolution at up to 60 fps); HEVC/H.265 decoding for compressed UHD streaming content; and HDCP 2.2 content protection.
Many of the new models now support inputs and processing to, among other things, deliver a wider color gamut for more natural-looking hues and saturation.
LG made Netflix Ultra HD streaming capability a big part of its message in launching its fall Ultra HD LED LCD TV product rollouts.
Although many new models will support HEVC decoding this year, only a handful of brands (Samsung, Sony, LG and Sharp among them) will be able to stream the new Netflix Ultra HD content this year.
As part of the launch, LG is offering through Aug. 16 a 12-month subscription to Netflix, compliments of LG, to purchasers of qualifying LG Ultra HD TVs
New LG model lines included the UB9800, UB9500 and UB8500 series, carrying screen sizes ranging from 49 inches to 84 inches.
The UB9800 top-end LED LCD TVs include LG’s LED Plus edge lighting with local dimming circuitry, wide viewing angles, Ultra IPS panel technology, and an Ultra Clarity Index (UCI) of 1560 for smooth motion images.
The sets will incorporate LG’s Smart TV+ WebOS connected-TV OS, offering easier-to-navigate content searches, and recommendations with voice input and other functionality.
Audio is supported with a high-performance Harmon/Kardon-designed audio system offering 70 watts of power to 4.2 channels in model 65UB9800 ($4,499 suggested retail), 90 watts to 5.2 channels in model 79UB9800 ($7,999) and 120 watts to 5.2 channels in model 84UB9800 ($14,999).
LG’s UB9500 series offers a different cosmetic package with LED Plus edge lighting with local dimming, an Ultra IPS LCD panel and 1500 UCI.
All models offer an onboard 35-watt 2.1-channel sound package and will include 55-inch ($2,499) and 65-inch ($3,499) screen sizes.
The UB8500 series features LED Plus edge lighting with local dimming, Ultra IPS panel, 1200 UCI, new HDMI inputs, H.265 decoding Smart TV+ WebOS, a 20-watt onboard sound system, and 49- ($1,499), and 55-inch ($1,999) screen sizes.
All LG Ultra HD models include LG’s Tru-4K Engine Pro, an up-scaling system that uses a multistep process to present regular HD content in near-Ultra HD quality on the 8-million-pixel displays.
Samsung introduced an 85-inch Ultra HD LED LCD TV and two Ultra HD LED LCD TV series.
The additions expand Samsung’s 2014 Ultra HD TV offerings to six series ranging in screen sizes from 40 inches to 110 inches.
The new 85-inch ($9,999 suggested retail) set will ship at the end of June, joining Samsung’s currently available HU8550-series models with 50-, 55-, 60-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes.
The 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, both slated for August deliveries.
The curved screen is said to provide a more immersive, panoramic viewing effect, while giving the set a more contemporary styling design.
The series incorporates Samsung’s proprietary Ultra HD up-scaling circuitry that up converts SD, HD and FullHD content in near-Ultra HD quality.
Key features in the series include Ultra HD Dimming for improved black levels, and Samsung’s Quad Screen Multi-Link feature that splits the screen into four windows.
Samsung also includes its five-panel Smart Hub connected-TV system powered by a quad-core processor, which will support the aforementioned Netflix 4K streaming.
For more traditionalists, the HU6950 flat-screen Ultra HD LED TV series includes the 40- ($999), 50- ($1,499) and 55-inch ($1,999) screen sizes, all with late-June availability.
All include the five-panel Smart Hub, Ultra HD dimming, Ultra HD up-scaling and a quad-core processor.
Samsung Ultra HD TVs enable upgradability using an optional One Connect Box Evolution Kit that allows customers to swap out outdated hardware and software components with newer technology for several years after purchase.
TCL put the industry on notice again that it was planning to drive the opening-price-point end of the business with new aggressively priced Ultra HD LED LCD TVs.
The company, which announced a sub-$1,000 Ultra HD TV last year, is offering five Ultra HD models this year, including the 40- ($499 suggested retail), 49- ($599), 55- ($799), 65- ($1,299) and 85-inch ($7,999) screen sizes.
TCL said all five models will be equipped with HDMI 2.0 inputs and will begin to ship to retail in the fourth quarter.
The 40- and 49-inch models will be part of TCL’s UE5700 series, targeting gamers, photographers, designers or people who get Ultra HD content from an external device.
Key features include 120Hz refresh rates, ultrathin bezel designs, a 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and more than a billion display colors. The sets will accept both native 4K content and will up-scale HD content using TCL’s proprietary up-scaling technology.
The 55-, 65- and 85-inch models will be part of the top-of-the-line UH9500 series and will all include smart-TV functionality.
The sets have ultra-thin-bezel designs and Wide Color Spectrum LED backlighting. Each adds integrated HEVC (H.265) decoding and built-in dual-band wireless connections to stream native UHD.
The 55- and 65-inch models both include 120Hz refresh rates, dual-band 802.11 two-by-two Wi-Fi to enable use of favorite apps, premium metallic designs, 1.2GHz dual-core CPU plus quad-core GPU, a 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and more than a billion display colors.
The 85-inch 85UH9500 LED Ultra HD smart TV adds to that a 240Hz refresh rate, four HDMI 2.0 ports, and two-speaker 15-watt onboard audio system with Dolby Digital Surround.
Sharp unveiled its second-generation Aquos Ultra HD line. This included 60- ($2,999 suggested retail) and 70-inch ($4,499) screen sizes in the new UD27 series. Both are scheduled to ship in September.
The sets come under Sharp’s unilateral pricing policy program, but those minimum levels were not available at press time.
At the other end of the spectrum, Sharp also introduced a pair of FullHD models in the new Aquos 660 HD series with similar delivery timing. The 660 screen sizes include 60 ($1,199 suggested retail) and 70 inches ($1,999), both featuring slimmer bezel designs and complementary stands.
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” circuitry for a 21 percent wider color gamut.
Sharp is using a 120Hz LCD panel with proprietary Aquomotion 480 smooth-motion circuitry, new cosmetic design, and SmartCentral 3.0 with enhanced personalized content search capabilities, including support for Netflix Ultra HD streaming.