TV Manufacturers Line Up 1st `Ultra HD Premium’ TVs At CES
UHD Alliance President Hanno Basse reveals the `Ultra HD Premium’ logo program at CES.
One of the most important developments to spring from CES 2016 was the Ultra HD Alliance’s long-awaited standards for top-performance in 4K Ultra HD TVs, which sets the framework for what makes the best picture we should expect this year. Unfortunately, the logo program stops short of telling us what less-capable TVs support, leaving it to manufacturers to invent labels of their own to communicate features and capabilities for all sorts of next-generation 4K Ultra HD models.
As reported previoulsy, the association established at CES 2016 a certification program and logo for what constitutes an “Ultra HD Premium” TV. This trademark signifies the lowest levels of black levels and highest levels of brightness to widen the range of light needed to present high dynamic range (HDR). It also specified parameters for a wide color gamut that will take color realism beyond the long-limited range established for high definition televisions.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as the logo program has gone so far, leaving unanswered which sets will display and support the different options for HDR, including HDR 10, Dolby Vision and others, or what a TV with lower brightness and black level capabilities should be called if they handle HDR on some level but fail to achieve all of the criteria for top Ultra HD Premium status.
Individual companies, seeking to educate consumers on the capabilities of their own TVs, have started implementing proprietary terms and logos, including Sony’s “4K HDR” TVs and LG’s three different logos used on various sets to indicate: HDR Compatible (meaning a TV will display HDR metadata to some unspecified level); HDR + (meaning a TV will display the baseline HDR 10 format) and HDR Pro (meaning a TV will read and display both HDR 10 and the Dolby Vision HDR systems).
As for HDR capable TVs already on the market, the UHDA is only evaluating 2016 TVs across all manufacturers, meaning that no 2015 TVs (from any manufacturer) will receive the UHDA classification, even if they might happen to qualify.
Read more on the first Ultra HD Premium TVs after the jump.
Ultra HD Premium Criteria
In part, to take into account the differences in technology, between organic light emitting diode (OLED) and LED TV technologies the Ultra HD Premium license is offered in two forms with each adjusted to take into account the attributes and limitations of different displays. The alliance also issued standards for content mastering and distribution.
The criteria for displays breaks down into the following:
• Image resolution must be 3840×2160 pixels
• Color bit depth must be at least 10-bit.
• Color reproduction must be able to handle the BT.2020 color and map it to the capabilities of the display. That gamut must display more than 90% of the P3 color standard.
• High Dynamic Range playback must support the SMPTE ST.2084 EOTF (electrical optical transfer function – the way a set translates digital code into visible light) and achieve one of two combinations of peak brightness and black level depth.
Either more than 1,000 nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 nits black level (intend for LED LCD TVS), or more than 540 nits peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level (intended for OLED TVs).
Regarding content distribution and mastering, the UHDA standards calls for: 3840×2160 pixel resolution with a minimum 10-bit signal, BT.2020 color representation and baseline SMPTE ST.2084 EOTF HDR.
For mastering HDR, the UHD Alliance also recommends display specifications in the creation process of a minimum of 100% of the P3 color standard; a peak brightness of more than 1,000 nits; and a black level depth of less than 0.03 nits.
In recognition of this new category and to point to the capabilities of their highest performing TVs, most top television manufacturers, who also happen to be members of the Ultra HD Alliance, singled out a few models, or in some cases a few lines of models for 2016, that they say offer the minimum performance attributes to be certified Ultra HD Premium TV sets.
LG said all of its 2016 OLED series meet the Ultra HD Premium logo spec and will be qualified under the logo program. That includes four model series and a total of eight models.
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LG said these models include the following:
The G6 “Signature” flat-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED models in the 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, featuring what the company calls “a picture-on-glass design.”
The E6 flat-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes, also with a “picture-on-glass design.”
The B6 flat-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED TV series (pictured above) in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes.
The C6 curved-screen 4K Ultra HD OLED TV in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes.
LG said its “entire line of 2016 OLED TVs supports the industry-standard HDR formats established by the world’s leading broadcasters, film studios and consumer electronics manufacturers, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision, making them among the first to be compatible with all formats.”
Samsung announced at CES 2016 that models in its KS9500 series (pictured above) will conform to the Ultra HD Premium logo program, and that “all of our 2016 SUHD TVs will carry the UHDA certification.” But the company has not yet issued features or specs for each of the different SUHD series.
As for its 2015 SUHD models, right now Samsung is saying only that “no decision has been made as of yet regarding certification of 2015 models.”
Panasonic said at its press conference that its new DX900 series 4K LED television will be Ultra HD Premium certified. The series will include models in the 58- and 65-inch screen sizes, and will include a honeycomb structure display to minimize light leakage while lighting up specific areas of the screen to produce HDR. The sets will also include a new Studio Master HCX+ chipset that offers enough power to drive the TVs’ wide color gamut system.
Hisense announced that it will have at least two models that conform to the Ultra HD Premium logo criteria, one from each of its Hisense and Sharp brands.
The Sharp N9000 Series (65-inch curved – pictured above – and 70-inch flat N9100) and the Hisense H10 Series (65-inch curved, $2,799.99 suggested retail) will meet the UHDA requirements to carry the Ultra HD Premium badge, the company said. The models are now scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2016. The 65-inch N9000 model is expected to carry a $2,999.99 suggested retail.
Sony wasn’t saying just yet whether any of its 2016 4K Ultra HD televisions will conform to the UHD Premium certification. Instead, Sony said its X930D series televisions will display Sony’s own “4K HDR” logo to signify the sets are capable of reading and displaying HDR metadata.
The company also announced that select 2016 Sony TVs will feature a new backlight master drive system that can produce up to 4,000 nits of peak brightness, exceeding the Ultra HD Premium luminance requirement by four times. Sony was preparing to shed more details on its 2016 product in coming weeks, when we expect more clarification on its plans to participate or not to participate in the Ultra HD Premium logo program. Stay tuned.
By Greg Tarr
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