CES 2015

Will Sharp's new "Beyond 4K Ultra HD TV' look better than other UHD TVs?

AT CES 2015, Sharp says its pixel-splitting technology can provide near-8K effective resolution from a UHD TV

Published: January 03, 2015 12:15 PM
Can Sharp create an 8K-like image from a UHD TV utilizing pixel-splitting technology?

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Do you remember Sharp's Quattron Plus (Q+) technology from last year, which used a clever pixel-splitting technology in an attempt to make 1080p TVs look more like UHD TVs? Well here at CES 2015 the company is looking to apply the same sort of technology to UHD TVs to produce what it claims are sets with better-than-UHD resolution.

This time, though, the pixel-splitting TVs get a new name: Aquos Beyond 4K Ultra HD TV. The first set, an 80-inch model, will be available late in 2015. Although we can't confirm it's exactly the same technology as last year's Quattron Plus sets, which we evaluated closely, the Beyond 4K Ultra HD TV will create a larger number of sub-pixels—66 million, or 42 million more than in other UHD sets, the company says—to deliver significantly more resolution and picture detail than standard UHD TV sets. In fact, Sharp says, it can use the process, which splits pixels in half vertically, to take a 3840x2160 UHD-resolution screen and use it to display content at an effective resolution of up to 7680x4320. 

The TV also has something called Spectros Rich Color, which we understand is a new LED backlight that uses phosphor coatings—something, I believe, similar to what LG is doing with its Wide Color UHD TVs—and improved color filters to provide a wider, richer color gamut.

The TV will also employ some type of high dynamic range technology to improve contrast and black levels, according to the company. Although the type wasn't identified, we do know that Sharp has looked closely at Dolby Vision, though we don't know whether it will actually use it.

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Like many TV manufacturers here at CES, Sharp is upping the number of UHD TVs it will offer in 2015, with three new series (the entry-level UB30 sets, a mid-tier UE30 line, and the top-of-the-line UH30 models) and seven screen sizes ranging from 43 to 80 inches. All will have both HEVC (H.265) and VP9 decoding; VP9 is the codec being used by YouTube for its 4K streaming. The sets will also get an updated, Android-based smart TV platform called SmartCentral 4.0.

Screen sizes in the UB30 series run from 43 inches to 65 inches, with prices ranging from $730 to $2,300.

UE30 sets will be offered in 60-, 70-, and 80-inch screen sizes, with prices ranging from $2,00 to $5,400. The flagship UH30 model will be 70- and 80-inch sets with THX 4K certification and the Spectros color. The 70-inch set will retail for $3,200, while the 80-inch LC80UH30 set will be priced at $6,000.

We'll be getting in several of these sets as soon as they're available, and we're hoping to be able to fully test the first Beyond 4K Ultra HD when it's released late in the year. CES 2015 is hopping with TV news this year, so keep checking back for all our CES updates on TVs and other products.

—James K. Willcox

Click on the image above to find all of Consumer Reports' coverage from CES 2015.

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