October 2019

Opposite page: Samsung’s QLED 8K TVs on display at IFA, available in a variety of screen sizes.

Above left: Hisense ULED XD, using a secondary panel that enhances black level performance; the doubling-up of LCD panels could be a trend we’ll see more of in 2020.

Above right: First seen at CES earlier this year, LG’s curved OLED dispay made a return at its booth at IFA.

Far Left: Sharp unveiled a 120-inch 8K display at this year’s IFA.

Left: The transparent OLED TV from Panasonic, a joint development with interiors specialist, Vitra, is more furniture than AV.

Set to launch in Q4, and available in screen sizes up to 65-inches, the move is a bold one for both Hisense and Roku, which is locked in a battle with Amazon’s rival Fire TV platform.

The Hisense Roku sets should enable consumers

to more easily access 4K and 4K HDR content, via the familiar Roku interface.

Senior Marketing Manager at Hisense, Arun Bhatoye, proclaimed Roku “a fantastic TV streaming platform with tons of catch-up services”. Not to be outdone, Amazon used IFA to introduce the first Fire TV Edition smart TVs from JVC, in a partnership with Currys PC World owner, Dixons Carphone. Available in three models, 40-, 49- and 55-inches, all support regular HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and have Freeview Play tuners. These Fire TV Editions also ship with a Voice Remote to converse with Alexa.

While Amazon and Roku-powered LED LCDs are clearly targeting the mass market, there was plenty of interest at the higher-end, with 8K screens promoted by Sony, LG, Sharp and Samsung. According to IHS Markit data, 8K remains a

difficult sell. Japanese and Chinese brands are taking a cautious approach, principally because of content issues. Only Japan is broadcasting 8K content, motivated by the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, the Japanese buying preference for small TV screen sizes contradicts this broadcast scenario. Streaming services are also constrained by

broadband speed, at least until sufficient advances in compression technologies are made. The market

analyst described the 8K situation as ‘supply-push’ rather than ‘content-pull’.

Samsung stoked the flames with a new addition

to its Q900R 8K line-up, in the shape of a 55-inch model. It’s widely accepted that the benefits of native 8K resolution aren’t really appreciable on screens below 70-inches, so this introduction of a mainstream-sized set initially looks curious. However, with sales sluggish, a blatant play for market share could be a smart move for the South Korean maker. Dealers might be wise not to over promise the visual benefits of this 8K display though. Rival LG confirmed its first 8K product offerings, specifically the 88-inch 88Z9 OLED, a flagship for its Signature premium line, and the 77-inch 75SM99 LG NanoCell LED LCD.

Common to both is the second gen Alpha

9 processor, and support for a variety of HDR flavours, including Dolby Vision, but significantly not HDR10+.

For canny consumers, the provision of universal HDR support is likely to be increasingly important at the premium end of the screen market. Currently, only Panasonic and Philips offer both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision enabled 4K TVs. More controversially, LG used the Berlin show to attack rival Samsung’s 8K range, explaining that they fail to comply with the new Information Display Measurements Standard (IDMS) for 8K UHD, as set by the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM). To

prove its point, LG demonstrated the

importance of a high level of Contrast Modulation (CM) when it comes to displaying ultra-fine 8K picture information. With low levels of CM, detail is compromised and mosquito net artifacting becomes evident under close inspection.

According to the ICDM, the minimum CM value

required to deliver true native 8K must exceed 50 per cent. However, a comparison of a Samsung 8K screen and LG Nanocell model revealed that LG offered a CM value of 90 per cent, while the Samsung could only manage 12 per cent. Elsewhere, Sharp unveiled a 120-inch 8K display and offered examples of how a futuristic 8K+5G ecosystem might be used in medical and education applications. The high-speed data transfer capacity of 5G mobile technology could prove transformational when viewing great works of art in a museum environment, it suggested.

More prosaically, Sharp also used the show to debut its first low-cost Aquos 4K TVs using the Android connected platform.

It has four Android TV ranges on the boil, with its BL series models due in time for the Christmas selling period. Google Assistant enabled, the line will comprise 40- and 65-inch screen sizes and support HDR10 and HLG HDR and come with a Harman Kardon designed sound system with DTS Virtual: X post-processing for enhanced immersive sound. These will be followed in 2020 by the step-up BN series with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR, with sizes up to 65-inches. Two additional ranges will then follow.


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