Next generation screen technologies dominated CES 2017, with OLED the biggest talking point.
The upcoming Panasonic EZ1002 (aka the EZ1000 outside of the UK) OLED, looks a stunner in terms of image quality. Detail and dynamics (with a peak luminosity of 800 nits) appear excellent. The magenta tone that sometimes appears to affect OLED screens in bright room conditions looks to have gone. The set, which will be HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR compatible, uses an Absolute Black Filter to further boost contrast and absorb ambient light reflections.
HLG, incidentally, seemed to generate little interest at CES, probably because the standard has not been ratified yet for use in the American ATSC 3.0 TV system. Unlike in Europe, where it is very much on the broadcast agenda.
The company says techniques developed from its experience with plasma TVs enhance the EZ1002’s black level performance. Imaging Science Foundation calibration is supported and there’s compatibility with the Portrait Displays CalMAN calibration system.
Sony announced support for Dolby Vision on its OLED A1 screen. Not only did image quality look great, its Acoustic Surface sound system was a wow too. Demos were impressive, although not too many observers seemed to credit the subwoofer on the back of the set for delivering a significant portion of the sound. Integrators should note that while the Sony OLED can be wall-mounted, but there needs to be a small gap for this woofer to work.
The company also introduced new LED LCD sets with a revised Slim Backlight Drive + (Plus). This uses a grid array edge lighting system designed to offer more precise local dimming control.
These X930E and X940E models looked extremely impressive, running 4K content from a PlayStation Pro and demonstrating none of the backlight anomalies first seen on the original Slim Backlight Drive.
All of these new Sony TVs are compatible with Google Home control and have Chromecast built into the OS. Is Android TV about to go from zero to hero?
TCL was another brand to jump the Dolby Vision bandwagon, announcing compatibility with its next generation 4K HDR Roku OS screens. These models will run the Roku 7.5 TV OS, which can pause live TV for up to 90 minutes with the help of a USB drive.
Of course, if you really want to bring home the wow, LG had the wallpaper-thin W OLED. Available in 65- and 77-inch sizes, it’s just 2.57mm thin and can be attached to a wall with a magnetic mount.
The electronics have been relegated to a Dolby Atmos soundbar; only a single proprietary cable connects the two. LG says it has managed to raise peak luminance by 25 per cent across all its OLED screens this year. But 3D has been dropped as a feature.
Samsung, with around 30 per cent of the TV market worldwide, isn’t going to join the OLED party. It opted to introduce QLED instead, the new monicker for its next generation metal-doped Quantum Dot Q9 (flat), Q8 (curved) and Q7 (flat or curved) screens. Samsung has set a new high for peak brightness, with these models rated at 1500-2000 nits.There was much talk about colour volume behind the scenes. but no warm words for Dolby Vision.
It also introduced a new wall mounting system, which promises a near zero gap between the wall and screen. This combines with a new ultra thin optical cable which links the panel to One Connect Box. This single lead carries audio and video and is relatively easy to disguise.
Lower down the Samsung range are the MU8 and MU9 series, which do not use Quantum Dot technology, but still promise a 1000 nit peak brightness. The MU9 combines this with a non reflective screen, for enhanced colour and contrast.
8K also made more headway at the show. Both Hisense and ChangHong had screens which look set to go on sale in China over the coming year – well ahead of any potential 8K content availability.
One genuine surprise at the show was the return of glasses-free 3D. Chinese specialist KDX showed excellent glasses-free HD, to be used not for home entertainment, but pro AV applications.
An 85-inch glasses-free 3D screen, driven by a separate interactive touchpanel that allowed a level of CAD control, had depth and clarity. The company also offered a glasses-free 3D video wall, and a vending machine solution with glasses-free 3D interactive touchscreen display.