Hisense Unveils ULED Quantum-Dot 4K LED TV
Hisense USA used a Times Square press conference Wednesday to unveil its answer to Samsung’s SUHD 4K LED-LCD TV series in a ULED H10 nanocrystal-based (a.k.a. quantum dot) 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV. The company’s new premium TV offers a curved screen, high dynamic range (HDR) capability and a wide color gamut.
The company also introduced a 55-inch ULED TV that does not use quantum-dot technology, but produces a wider color gamut than conventional Rec.709-supporting HD TVs.
Hisense also used the occasion to acknowledge its recent acquisition of the Sharp Electronics North American marketing and manufacturing operations for TVs, which begins next year, but offered few additional details on what its dual-brand strategy will be, how the expanded operations will be managed or whom it might bring in to help run the business.
Hisense calls its new TVs with the expanded color and contrast performance ULED. The premiere ULED H9 and H10 series models include the 55-inch 55H9 and 65-inch 65H10. Both have curved LCD screens, full-array LED backlighting (240 zones for the 65-inch model and 85 zones for the 55-inch model), local dimming and peak brightness performance, the company said. The 65-inch model has peak brightness up to 900 nits.
In addition to offering advanced picture and sound performance (via an on-board audio system designed with the assistance of dbx-TV), Hisense said the ULED TVs will offer high value. The models will be backed by Hisense’s 4-year warranty, and pricing on the 65-inch model (65H10) rings in at $2,999.99, compared to Samsung’s 65-inch UN65JS9500 SUHD LED TV at $4,497.99. Pricing on the Hisense 55-inch 55H9 model is $1,299.99.
More on Hisense’s ULED 4K UHD LED TV line after the jump:
Due to limited early production, Hisense has elected to sell the 65H10 ULED model exclusively through Amazon (pre-orders are being taken now for delivery in October) for the balance of the year, before opening up distribution to brick-and-mortar retail accounts in 2016, said Peter Erdman, Hisense USA sales VP (pictured above with the Hisense ULED 65H10). Distribution will be open on the 55-inch model.
The curved 65H10 4K ULED TV uses quantum-dot technology from Nanosys, embedded in a special Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) from 3M.
Quantum dot technology is based on an electro-chemical phenomenon using a compound made up of many different elements, including heavy metals. When molecules of this compound are bombarded with high-intensity energy, like a photon from an LED, a quantum effect produces energy in the form of bright visible light.
The physical size of each quantum dot determines the wave length of the energy that they emit. So a certain size dot will produce green light, a larger dot produces red light and smaller dot produces blue light. The quantum dot compounds are sandwiched into the optical film and placed across the back of the LCD panel and in front of the full-array LED back lighting. Blue light photons from the LEDs collide with the quantum dots, and the inorganic particles generate a highly predictable and stable (won’t drift) colored light. These colors aren’t prone to differential-color aging like some OLED and phosphor-based technologies.
Quantum dots also help to avert a common problem with LED-LCD TVs, where reds and greens tend to look washed out when viewed up close. In fact, the harder quantum dots are driven the brighter they get, without loss of saturation.
Hisense said its quantum-dot TV will produce “over 100 percent of the current color standard” (Rec-709 color space), approaching the full-range of the Rec.2020 color space standard. This wider color gamut delivers a richer and broader range of colors and hues and a more natural-looking picture.
The boost in brightness also helps the TVs produce high dynamic range (HDR). Hisense executives said the 65-inch ULED model will receive a firmware update enabling it to comply with the HDMI 2.0a input specification bringing the ability to read and display metadata carrying baseline HDR format (SMPTE 2084/2086) picture information from external source devices. High Dynamic Range brings out increased details and color in very dark and very white areas of the image, while boosting brightness only in the bright areas of the picture.
In addition to quantum dot technology, local dimming backlight technology allows brightness control to 240 LED zones in the 65H10 model, 85 zones in the 55H9, and “smart peaking” technology enhances black-to-black response time and allows the LED backlight to boost the peak brightness of individual zones. Hisense said the sets also have dark field image enhancement which highlights specific bright details in dark areas of an image.
The update to HDMI 2.0a will enable the TVs to receive HDR metadata from external source devices, like forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players. The sets will also be able to stream Full HD/4K Ultra HD and 4K Ultra HD with HDR from installed smart TV streaming service apps from Netflix, Amazon and others, executives said.
Also among the apps offered on the sets will be Toon Goggles, which was described as “Netflix for Kids.”
The Hisense ULED models include Total Technology from dbx-tv that uses: “high-performance speakers;” dbx-tv Total Sonics technology that is a suite of audio enhancement technologies; Total Volume that addresses unwanted changes in loudness between programs and commercials; and Total Surround, which produces a surround-sound effect.
Other features in the ULED TV models are 3840×2160 resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, 4 HDMI inputs (2x 2.0 with HDCP v2.2); HEVC and VP9 up to 60fps decoding; 3 USB ports, dual-band Wi-Fi reception, True Octa-core processing (Quad-core CPU and GPU); and 4K media player.
Underscoring the company’s brand promotional efforts using NASCAR sponosorships, Hisense brought in NBC sports commentator Leigh Diffey to host the press event.
Regarding plans for the Sharp business, Erdman said the company is considering using the Sharp brand for premium TV products that could be distributed through specialty electronics dealers and other accounts with assisted sales floors. One consideration is to structure brand distribution in a good-better-best fashion.
The deal, he said, will enable Hisense to purchase LCD panels from Sharp’s Gen 10 factory in Japan. Unclear, Erdman told HD Guru, is if Hisense will consider purchasing or licensing certain Sharp TV technologies, including Quad Pixel (Quattron/Q+) that was to help Sharp deliver a “Beyond 4K TV” in 2016.
He also said that Hisense will have access to the Aquos sub-brand, if it decides to use it, and is investigating if it will have rights to the Elite brand for TVs, which Sharp used briefly for a highly acclaimed line of high-performance LED LCD TVs.
Erdman added that Hisense is now looking to add to its sales and marketing team.
“We are layering on a big chunk of business on top of what we do, and we are pretty lean, so we have reached out to some people and are aggressively trying to expand our team,’’ Erdman said.
By Greg Tarr
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