4K ULTRA HD TV REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent contrast
Superb color and resolution
Looks good from every angle
Unique panel-based sound system
Minus
No color management system
Some white clipping

THE VERDICT
While it might appear that OLED UHDTVs are popping up everywhere, the most visible supplier to date has been LG. But Sony, by acquiring OLED panels from LG and adding its own electronics, processing, styling, and unique features, has jumped into the fray, landing firmly on both feet with a solid performer.

Sony’s new OLEDs (the 65-incher reviewed here has a 55-inch sibling, and a 77-incher will be available by press time) haven’t yet taken pride of place at the top of Sony’s TV lineup. That honor belongs to the Z9D (Sound & Vision, January 2017 and soundandvision.com), now spruced up with the imminent addition (as I write) of Dolby Vision for 2017. But you might think of the OLEDs as stepping stones to Sony’s future in self-emissive displays—the spectacular, commercially oriented, and wall-sized CLEDIS LED display Sony demonstrated at the 2017 CES comes to mind. But that’s the future. Sony’s OLEDs are now. As of today, Sony’s OLED implementation uses a panel supplied by LG (but with Sony’s own secret processing sauce). At its press-time street price of about $4,000 in the 65-inch version, it was roughly comparable, if not a touch less expensive, than LG’s own like-sized C7P model.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 24, 2017  |  5 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright and punchy HDR
Excellent resolution
Stunning color
Minus
No Dolby Vision
Edge-lit instead of full-array backlight dimming

THE VERDICT
Samsung’s new top-of-the-line QLED flagship brings first-rate brightness, brilliant color, and crisp resolution to the Ultra HD party, but enthusiasts might notice its lack of a full-array, local dimming backlight.

Now that we’re awash in high dynamic range (HDR) material on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Samsung is determined to make the most of it with two new TVs, the 65-inch QN65Q9 reviewed here and the 75-inch QN75Q9 for buyers who prefer a bigger (and, at $10,000, pricier) set. Each has a screen that’s flat, not curved.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
It’s all about the black
Wide viewing angle
Supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Last year’s OLED sets from LG were so impressive that, apart from their peak white capabilities (an ongoing shortcoming relative to LCD designs), it was hard to see a road ahead for improvements. But LG has found that road, and while the upgrades might prove subtle to most viewers, videophiles will welcome them.

LG’s 2017 OLED offerings fall into five model groups, with the OLED65E7P positioned roughly in the middle. At $5,000, it’s hardly a Black Friday special, but it’s significantly cheaper than the near-paper-thin 65-inch flagship OLED65W7P (reviewed in our June issue), which commands $8,000.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 17, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Jaw-dropping black level and contrast
Wide viewing angle
Thin, thin, thin. And light
Minus
Expensive
Must be wall-mounted

THE VERDICT
We could argue with the mandatory inclusion of an outboard soundbar, the lack of a stand-mount option, and a lower (but still perfectly satisfactory) peak brightness for HDR than the best of the LCD competition provides. But it’s hard to imagine that any other 65-inch Ultra HDTV in 2017 will offer overall superior performance, or a more impressive aesthetic, than the best LCD competition.

Dateline: March 2017. Along with several other bit-drenched members of the audio/video press, we’ve been brought to San Francisco for a day with LG. The events will include a briefing on the company’s Ultra HDTV lineup for 2017, a visit to Dolby headquarters for the latest pitch on Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), and several hours of hands-on experience with the 65-inch OLED65W7P, the smaller of the two new 2017 OLED models in LG’s flagship Signature series. (A 77-inch version should be available later this year; no price had been announced as we went to press, but if that’s your ticket, bring money.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 26, 2017  |  5 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressively dynamic, generous nine-channel power
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X on board
THX Select2 certified
Minus
Meh remote
Ocassionally unintuitive ergonomics
Some features still await firmware update
Premium pricing

THE VERDICT
This Onkyo has faultless amplification and solid usability, though you’ll pay extra for it.

Onkyo must not have gotten the memo about Class D–powered audio gear being smaller, svelter, lighter. The company’s new topmodel-but-one TX-RZ1100 is an imposing object 8 inches tall, and while the receiver’s 43-pound weight poses no challenge to the seemingly 100-pounders of yesteryear, it’s not exactly nothing, either.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 11, 2017  |  8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding blacks and shadow detail
Nearly flawless off-center viewing
Attractive price (for OLED)
Minus
Still expensive

THE VERDICT
Yes, LG’s OLED UHDTVs do have shortcomings, including their inability to get as bright as the best LCD sets. But OLED’s significant advantages more than compensate and have made these TVs, including the superb OLED65E6P, the new golden goose in the Ultra HD landscape.

I vividly remember plasma displays, and I mourned their passing. But even before 4K came along, LCD TVs—with their brighter images, lighter weight, lower energy consumption, and, toward the end, cheaper prices—were putting a full-court press on plasma technology.

Al Griffin  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive (with discounting) for a 75-incher
HDR compatible
Accurate and extended color
Minus
Limited contrast
Backlight artifacts
Highlights in HDR programs lack detail

THE VERDICT
Sharp’s heavily discounted 75-inch TV offers accurate color and decent HDR performance, but its best feature is its big screen at an affordable price.

The arrival of a hulking 75-inch Ultra HDTV on your doorstep would be something you’d ideally want to coincide with a worthy media spectacle—the Super Bowl, for instance. In my case, however, the delivery of the Sharp Aquos LC-75N8000U synced up perfectly with the broadcast of the first Presidential debate. Lucky me: I got to witness what perhaps were the two most unpopular candidates in history assail each other’s character at near-life-size.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 22, 2016  |  0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDR10 plus Dolby Vision HDR
Great color
Wide viewing window
Minus
Middling black levels
Backlight artifacts

THE VERDICT
LG’s midpriced 65UH8500 delivers good image quality with a super-wide viewing window, and it’s one of the few sets around that plays both predominant types of HDR content.

A year ago, I tested the LG 65UF9500, an LCD Ultra HDTV that retailed for $2,999, and I criticized it for offering no future-readiness for soon-to-emerge high dynamic range (HDR) content. Since then, Ultra HD Blu-ray has come to market, bringing HDR along with it, and there’s a growing library of HDR movies available for streaming. To LG’s credit, their line of so-called Super UHD LCD TVs for this holiday season, including the midline 65-inch 65UH8500 tested here ($1,700), recognizes both predominant types of HDR—namely, HDR10 (used currently on Ultra HD Blu-rays) and Dolby Vision (still only available via web streams). LG is one of only two TV makers to support both formats on a single chassis (in both their LCD and OLED models), the other being Vizio, which updated their Dolby Vision sets for HDR10 in mid-2016. So how does this wellfeatured, attractively priced set perform? Let’s have a look.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive contrast and shadow detail
Handles both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Affordable price
Minus
Wi-Fi sync issue with included tablet remote
No extended-color-gamut capability
Some halo artifacts from local dimming backlight
Only one HDMI 2.0a input

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s budget-minded display handles both flavors of HDR and, a few quirks aside, delivers impressive performance.

When is a TV not a TV? When it’s an Ultra HD Home Theater Display. With the new M series, Vizio has chosen to shake up conventional expectations of what a TV should be and should do. One key change is that each M series set lacks a tuner to receive over-the-air digital TV broadcasts—hence, the company’s use of the term Home Theater Display. Another change is that Vizio has scrapped the typical full-featured IR remote control and replaced it with an Android tablet. Future-savvy or future shock? Read on and find out.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 15, 2016  |  9 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
State-of-the-art local dimming
Class-leading HDR brightness
Above average off-center viewing
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
With the top manufacturers jostling for a view from the top of the Ultra HD pyramid, Sony has taken an express elevator and is racing fast for the checkered flag. But enough with the mixed metaphors. If this TV isn’t today’s best LCD UHD/HDR set (and perhaps the best of any type), it’s not for lack of trying. Sony has given us their best technology here, and it shows.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016, Sony demonstrated a prototype of a future LCD TV design incorporating what the company called Backlight Master Drive. We found it dazzling, as did most of the show-goers with whom we spoke. Nevertheless, we all looked at it as a “show car”—something that might appear in a store near you in a couple of years, if ever.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 02, 2016  |  1 comments
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive
HDR compatible
Impressive contrast
Minus
Minor backlight artifacts
No extended color-space option
Flimsy stand

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s sensibly priced 50H8C does many things right, but buyers expecting an ultimate HDR experience will want to pass.

There’s been plenty of what tech marketing types call “disruption” in the TV industry over the past decade, with big-name Japanese brands like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and Toshiba bowing out and Chinese companies like TCL and Hisense stepping in. While TCL has gained recognition as a maker of Roku TVs that span a range of screen sizes, it’s still a bit early in the game for us to get a sense of what Hisense is all about. What’s clear so far is that the company is producing sets with upscale features like 4K Ultra HD resolution and high dynamic range, at disruptively affordable prices. Case in point: the new 50H8C, an HDR-compatible 50-inch UHDTV that sells for a mere $549.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 07, 2016  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
First-rate resolution
Compelling high dynamic range
Minus
HDR limited to HDR10
No 3D

THE VERDICT
In some important respects, Samsung’s new top-of-the-line TV improves upon the company’s previous flagship, and at a lower price.

When we last reviewed one of Samsung’s so-called SUHD sets, Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) was not yet available on Blu-ray. But the arrival of such discs—together with UHD Bluray players like Samsung’s own UBD-K8500—has changed the game.

The 4K resolution of Ultra HD sets is all well and good, but HDR is the most eye-popping feature of UHD. Not all 4K sets, however, incorporate HDR, and those that do don’t necessarily perform at the same level. HDR still can’t be done well cheaply; at present, the displays that do it best are their respective makers’ premier offerings. The Samsung KS9800 series definitely belongs in that company—and among the three models within that family, the 65-incher we’re discussing here is the smallest.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  2 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive edge-lit local dimming
Respectable off-axis viewing
Bright, punchy HDR
Minus
Often redundant menus
Tight remote control layout

THE VERDICT
Full-array local dimming remains the gold standard for LCD Ultra HDTVs, but Sony has now upped the ante with the best edge-lit set we’ve seen.

The last time I reviewed one of Sony’s 4K sets, it had large speaker enclosures attached permanently to the sides of the screen, with a separate “subwoofer” firing out the back. This made for an inconveniently wide design, and with the introduction of Sony’s new 2016 models, those audio “wings” are now history.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  6 comments

2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Blacks to die for
Solid off-center viewing
Minus
Expensive
Careful setup critical for best results
Menus tedious to navigate

THE VERDICT
Our brief time with LG’s flagship OLED for 2016 suggested it’s not perfect (what is?), but apart from the fact that LCD sets still go brighter than OLEDs, it’s unlikely that any other new HDR-equipped Ultra HDTV will be able to match or exceed the performance of this one.

While this article is structured as a Test Report, in fact it’s a good bit short of a full-fledged evaluation. The combination of the cost of LG’s flagship OLED and the limited supply of review samples in early April prompted the company to set up a couple of displays at a venue in New York City, then shuttle in groups of A/V journalists to lay hands on the set—so to speak.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 05, 2016  |  3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color
Great screen uniformity
Artifact-free 1080p-to-UHD scaling
Minus
Poor black level and contrast
Meager streaming platform

THE VERDICT
Though it delivers solid entry-level performance, Panasonic’s CX400 faces more fully featured competition at its price.

Panasonic pulled big crowds at its CES booth in January with their CZ950 OLED, a 65-inch Ultra HD television that adds advanced processing to an LG-supplied OLED panel, with quite stunning results. Unfortunately, that set is only sold overseas for now (priced at €10,000 or about $11,000, no less), and it remains unclear when or if Panasonic will release it in the States.

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