Samsung’s Steve Panosian

One of the biggest challenges facing consumers shopping for a good performing 4K Ultra HDTV today is learning what high dynamic range and a wide color gamut are and then knowing how to determine which TVs claiming to be HDR and wide color gamut capable actually are.

The problem is that, while the industry has a labeling program to let us know which TVs are capable of accepting and reading HDR metadata and which TVs are capable of presenting HDR and a wide color gamut at a premium level, we have no other criteria to use to let us know which so-called 4K Ultra HD TVs supporting HDR are displaying that metadata information at a “Good” level, and which are displaying it at a “Better” level. The “Best” TVs are presumably those carrying the Ultra HD Alliance logo certifying Ultra HD Premium level performance, at least among those television brands that are choosing to support the UHDA’s program.

The result is that TV shoppers today are presented with an increasingly growing onslaught of “HDR capable” TV model options to choose from and no criteria to use to determine performance levels for peak luminance or color gamut  at for the particular model class.

During a recent tech session presented by Samsung Electronics for professional calibrators, product reviewers, industry engineers and experts, the HD Guru was able to ask Steve Panosian, responsible for product marketing management for Samsung Electronics America, how Samsung is trying to make the television selection process less confusing and complex amidst the veritable sea of choices now hitting the market. Samsung does, after all, have the industry’s largest selection for 4K Ultra HD and HDR TV models on the market.

Read our Q-&-A interview with Samsung’s Steve Panosian after the jump:

Q: There are many different models and model series being sold in the industry as HDR compatible today, yet they don’t all perform to the same specs, making it hard for consumers to get their heads around what an HDR TV should be. My question is, how many classes of HDR TVs are in the 2016 Samsung line?

Steve Panosian: We promote our products following the CTA Definition for TVs that are HDR compatible. Then, our KS series of SUHD 4K Ultra HDTVs with quantum dot technology are Ultra HD Alliance certified “Ultra HD Premium.” That class of television meets the definition of that specification pure and simple. You might see different marketing terminologies, but that’s the best answer I can give you.

Q: So, below the KS series, is there a series that will give me higher dynamic range than a non-HDR set yet still not be able to produce the full 1,000 Nits of peak brightness in the UHD Alliance specification?

Panosian: The 2015 and 2016 product will read the metadata for HDR-10. What you see displayed when you feed it HDR content is the dynamic range, which is limited to that television’s contrast performance. When you look at this year’s product line, the 6 series may be able to hit peak luminance levels in the 300s or 350 Nit levels. When you look at the KU series models, that series of televisions is capable of rendering better than 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut. When you get to the KS series, that’s where you get to the 94 or 96 percent of P3 coverage, depending on which model you are testing and the peak luminance is over 1,000 Nits.

Q: So, what you are really saying is that in order to get all the benefits of HDR, you are going to want to get a KS series model?

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Panosian: That’s what we are promoting today. But I will say that when you walk into a store and you look at the brightness, the color and the contrast performance, you are going to see a good-better-best, assortment by performance capability. I would say that comparatively, the television that the consumer has at home or even the televisions we were selling two or three years ago weren’t achieving the peak brightness levels that we are seeing in the 6 Series models today.

Q: Well, that answers what Samsung is doing with respect to the KS and KU TVs, but then there’s the rest of the industry which is all over the map in what the different brands seem to be calling HDR TVs. Is there an effort being established to provide labels consumers can use to quickly identify what level of HDR a particular model is capable of achieving beyond just the Premium label offered by the UHD Alliance?

Panosian: I think you are hitting a problem right on the head. Currently the only two classifications of HDR that I know the industries have put in front of everyone is the CTA’s HDR Compatible Spec., which is a baseline definition saying that a TV is the able to read the HDR metadata and that television can display a picture within its color and dynamic range limits, what ever they may be. Then there is the Ultra HD Alliance Ultra HD Premium logo certification criteria and TVs that meet those specifications are capable of meeting the 1,000 Nits of peak luminace, etc. Other than that, we’ve tried really hard within the industry to put something out there to define a Good-Better-Best level of HDR television performance, and we are not there yet.

Q: And even with calibration there is nothing you can do with that metadata to make the television perform any better than what the set’s capable of?

Panosian: I think the message from Florian Freidrich (TV testing systems specialist) and Kevin Miller (ISF) is that the best you can do is optimize a television, which is not to be confused with making it doing something it can’t.

By Greg Tarr


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