CES 2014 Report!

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The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it is often referred to, is one of the largest showcases for new technology of the year.  I’ve personally been fortunate to say that this is my 13th CES Show; however, I can also say that it is the most disappointing.  While there are many aspects to the show from cell phones to washer/dryers, we often focus on the home theater and video products hoping for there to be something compelling to look forward to in the spring— this year, it simply isn’t the case.

HDTV has been available for over a decade and Ultra HD has been the talk of the town for the past two years taking the spotlight as 3D quickly fades away.  Pulling up to the front of the convention center makes it hard to not notice the banners touting Ultra HD from manufacturers like Samsung and LG, but even with a lot spent on advertising, we find ourselves still wanting.

LG introduced probably the most complete line-up of displays including Ultra HD, Curved and Flat OLED, and Smart TVs utilizing the webOS platform.  The LCD/LED based displays are available in sizes from 49 to 105-inches and will be shipping this spring/summer with all displays including HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.

LG’s OLED lineup will come with curved screens  at 55, 65, and 77-inches with a 55-inch flat ‘Gallery’ model that is meant to imitate living art when not in use.  The OLED line-up will be WRGB based with a white, red, green, and blue sub-pixel system making up the image.

Sony didn’t show any OLED displays this year.  They seem to be distancing themselves from the technology on the consumer side, but still pushing forward on the broadcast side— the PVM, FVM, and BVM OLED is very popular in the Hollywood Post-Production industry.  Sony did demonstrate their LCD/LED display line with ‘X-tended Dynamic Range PRO technology’, a form of image enhancement that is said to increase the dynamic range of the display by up to three times normal.  Sizes in the new product line are 40, 48, 49, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 79, and 80-inches, Ultra HD displays are available starting at 49”.

Panasonic has discontinued their plasma development; as such, the focus on the floor was LCD/LED displays showcasing their “Life+ Screen” Smart TV technology.  The new technology allows the user to interact with the TV via facial recognition, voice recognition, a mobile application for your smartphone or tablet, or simply the remote control.  The platform leverages Panasonic’s cloud and sends data to learn what you like in order to make suggestions for content across its’ built in applications.

Samsung released quite a bit of news this year, but nothing that stood out.  The Samsung Smart Control and updated Smart TV remote are minor improvements to last year’s offering including gesture recognition.  The new Ultra HD TV line has improved integration with content providers to deliver Ultra HD content to the consumer through streaming services.  Of note, Samsung plans to offer Amazon, M-GO, Netflix, as well as content from Comcast and DirecTV in Ultra HD.

The Samsung TV line itself really took a step backwards this year as Samsung worked to blend their curved technology with their Ultra HD LCD/LED displays.  Color is said to be enhanced with Samsung’s new ‘PureColor™’ technology that allows for more color adjustment over last year.  The Ultra HD line comes in three series the S9, U9000, and U8550 and will range in size from 50 to 110-inches in both curved and flat versions.  All Ultra HD models will have HEVC, HDMI 2.0, MHL 3.0, and HDCP 2.2.  Additionally, Samsung is continuing their Evolution Kit with the UHD version for easy upgrading in the future.

Sizes for Samsung’s curved line-up are:  55, 65, 78, 105-inches.  The flat display line-up comes in 50, 55, 60, 65, 75, 85, and 110-inches.  An announcement regarding the state of Samsung’s plasma display line will come, “later in 2014.”

We didn’t expect much from Sharp at CES as we’ve always found their displays to be incapable of accurately reproducing color as per system standards; however, we figured we would give them a quick look.  In addition to having some Ultra HD displays, Sharp was demonstrating their Quattron + Revelation Technology which we are told, but don’t believe, divides the sub-pixels in half allowing for more sub-pixels.  What Sharp couldn’t explain is how that actually converts to real image detail since the pixel is what determines image detail and the sub-pixel is responsible for the color of that particular pixel.  As with everyone else at the show, Sharp will now ship with HDMI 2.0.

Toshiba revealed very little in the way of a full display product line, but instead showed off a number of concept pieces including a 5K Ultra HD display and a 65” curved LCD/LED display.  The display that will be shipping in 2014 is the Ultra HD Radiance LCD/LED display.

VIZIO was the most exciting display demonstration I had the privilege to attend at the show as it was an invite only at the Wynn Hotel, but it was nevertheless impressive.  While Vizio has always offered a great value proposition with their display line they’ve started to extend that in an attempt of dominating at all levels.  For 2014, they have their entry level E-Series display with options to buy with and without connectivity, local dimming, and full array backlighting in models over 24-inches.

The M-Series is LCD/LED with a Pure Pixel Tuning technology said to optimize brightness and contrast in additional to the local dimming circuitry for dynamic adjustment.  As a video purist, this is probably not something that we’ll be interested in, but it is nice to know that VIZIO is developing and customizing their video processing algorithms to stay competitive with the rest of the industry.  This series goes all the way up to 80”.

The P-Series from VIZIO is their Ultra HD display line.  It is LCD/LED based and comes in various sizes from 50 to 70-inches with full array backlighting.  VIZIO has worked to develop their own video processor that they call the ‘VM50 Picture Processing Engine’ and have integrated the HEVC codec for streaming Ultra HD, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 support, and even 802.11ac wireless networking.

While we were impressed that VIZIO was bringing a very promising videophile display with their customizations developed for the P-Series, we were even more impressed when they showed us the upcoming Reference Series.  The Reference Series is a partnership with Dolby that will enable VIZIO to deliver 10-bit content directly to the consumer for a significant improvement in picture quality.  Today’s consumer sources are 8-bit, even Blu-ray.  In our current 8-bit system the majority of video information is between levels 16-235 allowing for 219 shades of gray, but in a 10-bit system the majority of video information is between 64-940 increasing the shades of gray to 876!  Not only is 10-bit exciting, but VIZIO claims that their Reference Series is capable of meeting the Rec.2020 Ultra HD standard for color gamut.  We haven’t heard from any other manufacturer making this claim, if true, it would mean that VIZIO could have the first Ultra HD display capable of producing the full set of colors in the Rec.2020 standard.  Needless to say, we’re excited to get a chance to look at the new Reference Series for the display’s capability and the quality of content.

There were a few new comers including TCL and technology introduced illustrating Quantum Dots which is not quite ready for primetime, but certainly something to watch out for.  Overall, television technology for 2014 was evolutionary, not revolutionary.  Improvements have been made in many areas, but we’ve also taken a few steps back— curved displays have been receiving significant criticism as there was a huge push to making displays flatter and thinner and the curve display completely reverses those efforts.  If you’re looking to buy a display now, there are certainly some great options, but certainly nothing compelling enough to upgrade from a set one or two years old.

JVC DLA-RS6710U Quick Review!

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Today we had the pleasure of working on the new JVC DLA-RS6710U projector and found it to be a significant upgrade from previous models.  Here’s a quick overview of our general findings.

The JVC DLA-RS6710U is JVC’s premiere D-ILA home theater projector for 2014 and reaffirms JVC’s commitment to perfecting the line.  Previous JVC projectors did not perform nearly as well as the new RS6710.  As an example, gamma tables did not measure as claimed in older model projectors and have been corrected in the 6710. Fortunately, the JVC projectors are some of the most configurable projectors on the market and allow for customized gamma tables to be created, and advanced grayscale adjustments to be performed.  Today, the JVC RS6710U improves upon the older design by adding the ability to upload your own tables to achieve the desired result.  In addition to gamma improvements, the grayscale tracking has also been significantly improved— the two-point grayscale adjustments render a near flat grayscale response throughout the entire range; of course, if you wanted to adjust the grayscale in more depth, you can.

The JVC’s internal color tables do not provide ideal results for achieving Rec.709.  The internal table is close, and the color management system, or CMS, will allow improvement over the internal table; however, the JVC’s internal color tables push 100% saturated colors outside the target range and the CMS system does not allow for all saturation levels to be properly represented.  Ultimately, there is either an error where 100% saturation is outside the target, or saturations less than 100% are under saturated in order to achieve accuracy at 100% saturation.  When calibrated to minimize the overall error, the results are within the tolerance of the standard.

For more information on features and functionality of the projector, please visit the JVC Professional website.

AVSForum’s Scott Wilkinson Interviews David Abrams at CEDIA 2013!

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Greetings!

As many of you know, the CEDIA 2013 show took place last week in Denver, CO.  We were going to put together a brief summary of what was cool from a display perspective; however, our good friend Scott Wilkinson of the AVSForum.com asked us to give a brief video interview discussing just that!

You can check it out here!

Enjoy!

Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 Review – Calibrated by Avical

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Hi All,

We recently had the pleasure of working with the HomeTheaterReview.com team; assisting in their evaluation of the Panasonic TC-P65ZT60.  Avical optimized the “ISF Day” and “ISF Night” modes allowing for reviewer Jerry Del Colliano to experience this reference grade plasma display at its’ best.

The “ISF Day” mode was calibrated to Rec.709 with a gamma of 2.2 to accommodate the room environment when ambient light is present; whereas, the “ISF Night” mode was calibrated to match the Rec.709 and Rec.1886 specifications allowing for accurate colorimetry and gamma response.  We utilized the AV Foundry VideoForge with custom built test patterns, a Photo Research spectroradiometer, and CalMAN 5 video calibration software.

The full article is available here!

Happy Reading!

Avical Donates Calibrations to Charity!

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Since 1974, Bet Tzedek has set the standard for innovation in public interest law.  Bet Tzedek’s pioneer projects combine direct legal representation with powerful outreach, education, and legislative advocacy– the results are unique and vital lifelines for more than 15,000 low-income Angelenos each year.  In communities disenfranchised by poverty, Bet Tzedek’s free legal representation helps people of every race and religion secure vital necessities like safe and affordable housing, fair wages, health care and public benefits.

Avical is proud to be a supporter of Bet Tzedek as their work is vital to so many in need.

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SMPTE: Behind the Scenes of HBO’s Game of Thrones

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This evening we join the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for a behind the scenes look to explore the production and post production of HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, entering its third season. For season three, principal photography takes place in near Belfast, Ireland and travels to Iceland, Morocco & Croatia.

CES 2013 Coverage

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Avical is at CES 2013 attending press conferences, meeting with product managers, and getting a behind the scenes look at the latest consumer electronics technology. On January 7, press day kicks off with the majors LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony holding their respective press events.

Stay tuned for the latest updates on what we really can expect from this years products from the prospective of your trusted professional technologists.

 

News from LG

As expected LG announced their 84″ UltraHDTV , (4k panel), also available in 65″ and 55″ sizes. LG claims they will be shipping this month in Korea, and March in the US. LG also announced all displays going forward will be LEDs, not surprising but notable.

LG showcased what they are calling the worlds first curved display, of course Samsung also claims to have the worlds first which they also had on display, and we will just let them figure out who was first to the bottom in what is sure to be a niche product for enthusiasts with $$.

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The theme at LG seems to be the same with every manufacturer at CES, interactive TV, a UI they hope will draw the family away from their android and iOS mobile devices and back to the TV with some of the same apps in a larger format. Too early to tell how it will pan out, but it seems like the older crowd finds it more appealing. they even has the first SIMs game that you can control from your LG smartphone. It seemed to be quick and responsive but another questionable move, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

 

Panasonic Press Event

Panasonic is continuing the trend with smart TVs by attempting to merge the mobile, Internet, and traditional display experience. “Smart Viera TV or my Home TV” is the theme for over the top applications as Panasonic has announced they have joined the Smart TV Alliance and will be developing an SDK for developers to use for applications that will end up in the marketplace. It is clear Panasonic is trying to merge the broadcast and interactive online experience through the TV. They demonstrated a HSN live broadcast with interactive features through a shop by remote feature that allows access to interactive content, catalogs, and reviews which allows one to purchase direct from your remote. This is an interesting experiment by HSN and Panasonic which will certainly be challenging to capture the online shoppers.

On to displays, 32 new this year, including 16 Plasmas, and 16 LCD LED backlit displays for 2013. Limited discussion around the displays at the Press conference, which is unusual for Panasonic, a big disappointment for many of the videophiles expecting details. Not to worry, Avical will be getting a tour with the product manager later this week and we will have the details.

Panasonic gave us a demo of their my Home TV product, the UI they hope will take off and pull the family back to the set. They are using face recognition to load each members profile and customized apps, think of it as a Xbox lite interface without the stability, the seamless interface, and the ability for complete motion control. Overall the system was pretty slow and buggy, with a reboot required, but hey if your use to Microsoft Windows then that should be a problem, it’s a prototype with updates to come before and after release.

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Now onto the really cool stuff, yes they still make Plasmas, and this year the VT series is blacker than last year with an upgraded processor and filter. It gets better though as Panasonicintroduced the ZT model which is surely to please the most critical viewers with its inky deep blacks. We will reserve judgement on just how black it is until we get in the lab, but looking at the side by side comparison in the dark room, it looked significantly darker compared to last years VT50 which was considered the best HDTV out there by many of the professional calibrators. It also won the infamous HDTV Gurus’s Best HDTV award, gotta love how this award is given out each year based on a prototype with no critical evaluation done.

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What about OLED? Yes Panasonic did not disappoint with their 56″ 4k OLED using their proprietary inject printing technology to create the panel. Rumors were swirling about if they would even show the panel, and they did deliver. Now they are being quiet about whether this will be an actual shipping product this year, but there is some rumblings that we could see it hit the market in 2013 at a comparable price point since yields are better than the competition.

I think we can put to rest the rumors that Panasonic is exiting the TV business in 2013. Yes they are changing direction, but they still have a significant market share in the pro line and they deliver one of the best HDTVs every year.

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