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The short version is: it depends on the TV. We break it down into four categories: high-end 4K UHD; mid- to low-end 4K UHD; high-end Full HD TV (1080p) and mid- to low-end Full HD TV.

The results appear after the break

With high-end 4K UHD there are three big feature changes: The first is a switch from 8-bit to 10-bit LCD panels with the ability to read the 10-bit signals that will be offered on the upcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. This feature increases the amount of gradient shades from 235-256 (depending on manufacturer) versus 1024 resulting in fewer picture artifacts called dithering (We are certain many readers have seen this as different shade bands in a TV image of the sky).

In addition, select 4K models of Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and LG have a wider color range. All appear in the top range of models and as we’ve stated before, to date only Panasonic and Samsung TVs can read the wider color metadata in the new 4K Blu-ray discs and future 4K streams from Over-The-Top video services such as Netflix. The other brands will use their signal processors to make the brand’s best guess as to what the color should really be.

Also new for 2015 is the ability to reproduce high dynamic range (HDR) with brighter peak colors due to added circuitry and more maximum light output. This feature is only on the top tier series models from Sony, Samsung and Panasonic and again, to date, only Samsung and Panasonic have stated that their respective select models will use the metadata to accurately reproduce the higher dynamics.

Pricewise, at launch, these top-end 2015 TVs will be more expensive. For example the top- of the-line 65-inch 2014 Samsung set is the UN65HU9000, which is now priced at $3497.99 – a 42% reduction off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) from Amazon direct. It has every feature Samsung offered in its 2014 4K UHD TV, model UN65JS9000. The Samsung’s 2015 UN65JS9000 will initially sell for $4999.

For 2015 you’ll gain a 10-bit LCD panel, HDR and wider range of colors but lose the built-in Skype camera, which will be sold as an extra-cost accessory.

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This year, Samsung added a model above the 9000 series, called the JS9500. It will be available with a 65-inch or an 88-inch screen. The JS9500 retains the Skype camera and adds full-array LED backlighting with hundreds of local dimming zones. (The H9000 and JS9000 also offer local dimming but offer dozens of local zones, according to Samsung, and an edge-lit LED lighting system that projects lighting inward across the LCD back plane instead of directly behind the pixels. The Samsung UN65JS9500 will sell for $5999 upon introduction this month.

Mid-end to low-end UHDTVs are pretty much the same as 2014 with many additional models to choose from. We expect more series with 60 Hz refresh rates as opposed to the 120 Hz (the highest native refresh rate available on any 4K UHDTV). For example, Vizio’s upcoming 2015 M series TVs appear to have 10-bit 4K LCD panels, according to the specifications. However, the electronics lack the motion estimation/motion compensation circuitry found in Vizio’s 2014 UHD “P” series, making it a native 60Hz TV, which can be expected to produce motion blur when viewing sports or action scenes.

Price wise, we expect higher initial prices for comparable 2015 models from most of the top-tier TV manufacturers, including LG, Samsung, Sony and Sharp.

In 2015, we expect few (if any) high-end featured Full HDTVs. This translates to an expectation of no new HDTV models with native 240 Hz panels or a wider color gamut. You can expect to find Smart TV functions and just 60 or 120 Hz refresh rates. Based on information from Sony and LG, their largest Full HD TV screen size will be 65-inches. Larger models will only be offered with 4K UHD panels.

Samsung plans a single 75-inch Full HDTV (and maybe a derivative for warehouse clubs). 3D will not be offered by Samsung or LG in Full HD TVs this year, and Vizio dropped 3D from all of its models last year.

The only major change we’ve found on 2014 Full HDTVs will be updated Operating Systems (OS) and graphical user interfaces (GUI). Samsung switches to its 2015 Tizen OS with a new GUI, Sony goes to the latest version of Google TV.

Low- to mid-end HDTV will be basically unchanged from 2014 with minor styling updates on some models and fewer choices for a given screen size.

Conclusion

If you want the latest, greatest picture improvements offered in top- of the-line 4K Ultra High Definition series, we suggest waiting until most begin to appear in March, April and May, depending on the brand.

We see no advantage to waiting for higher-priced (at introduction) 2015 Full HD TV models, and suggest grabbing a heavily discounted 2014 close-out model while quantities last. Select 2015 HDTV models will begin hitting dealer shelves this month.

See our latest list of 2014 4K UHD and HDTV Close-out bargains and Hot Deals.

 

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