Vizio Launches M-Series 4K UHD TVs, Demos Dolby Vision
Vizio first showed prototypes of its Reference Series Ultra HDTV line more than a year ago, but it still wasn’t ready to reveal release plans for the high-end enhanced 4K UHD sets at its New York City press conference Monday evening.
Instead, the company worked with Dolby to play up the high dynamic range (HDR) characteristics of the Dolby Vision system that will be a key feature of the new displays, which are expected to hit the market this year. It also took the wraps off a mid-range 2015 M Series 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV line (pictured above) and seven new soundbars designed to fit with the 2015 TV class.
More on Vizio’s Spring TV and sound bar offerings after the break:
Vizio’s Reference 4K Ultra HD full-array LED-LCD TV series was the first announced as supporting HDR based on Dolby Vision, which is a system that uses a combination of specially encoded content, circuitry and software inside the TV to receive and process the extra information to bring out detail and color in deep black and bright white areas of a picture.
John Hwang, Vizio product management director, (pictured above) said that Vizio has not announced any additional or supplemental HDR support in the Reference Series beyond Dolby Vision, and the sets will not add HDR enhancement to non-HDR-encoded content, because at launch, “we want to give the consumer the best possible experience. We don’t want to muddy the water about what HDR is.”
The company also isn’t saying exactly what technology it will use to produce a wider color gamut in the forthcoming Reference Series, other than to say that “quantum dot technology has gotten a strong marketing push, but right now the way the technology is packaged and the development that has gone on so far is very similar to the RG phosphor [with blue LED backlight] in the LEDs we are using for color performance and it is a lot more expensive,” said Hwang. “We feel the right time to launch quantum dot is when the performance gets better, so we are currently developing that right now and that will be launched in future product, and that’s when you are going to start seeing color capabilities and color gamut being a lot more than what they are.”
Roland Vlaicu, Dolby Labs consumer imaging VP, told HD Guru that as the standards setting process evolves for HDR, wide color gamut and greater bit depths a solution supporting “multiple performance levels” may emerge.
“We see Dolby Vision incorporated as the highest level of performance,” Vlaicu said. “We are bringing Dolby Vision components to standardization bodies and other relevant parties, where ever it makes sense. For example, for the metadata and the [Electro Optical Transfer Function] EOTF [describes how to turn digital code words into visible light], the standardization for that belongs in [Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers] SMPTE. So we took the EOTF standard we developed to SMPTE and it has been ratified as SMPTE 2084. Similarly, SMPTE 2086 was just closed and that describes the mastering metadata which establishes the mastering environment – what kind of reference display is used? what was the peak brightness of the display?, what was the color gamut? – so that the TV in the home knows what to do when the content is on.”
Vlaicu (pictured above) said additional metadata is now in negotiation in SMPTE for possible inclusion in an HDMI 2.0a spec. Dolby Vision is resolution agnostic, frame rate agnostic, and “video codec agnostic in the broader sense,” meaning it is compatible with both H.264 and HEVC (H.265).
He said Dolby continues to enable various mastering facilities in Hollywood to master content in Dolby Vision, using new color-grading tools including plug-ins and Dolby enhanced monitors that generate the Dolby Vision result.
The Dolby Vision system is the only HDR system providing the option of dual-layer or single-layer, approaches. Dolby uses a dual-layer system to provide HDR along with backward compatibility in distribution, Vlaicu explained. That approach uses some additional bandwidth. A single-layer approach is used when backward compatibility is not needed. For playback, the Dolby Vision chipset implementation in set-top boxes and in televisions understands either version of Dolby Vision, and delivers the appropriate version for the capabilities of the display. The dual-layer option lets the content distributor decide whether to send a dual-layer version that is backward compatible with standard dynamic range and Rec-709 or only a single layer with Dolby Vision enhanced content.
The newly announced Warner Bros. Dolby Vision-enhanced titles that will be available over Vudu will include dual-layer streaming, with backward compatible Rec-709 and SDR encapsulated in the overall stream, along with Dolby Vision enhancement on top of it.
Vizio said that the Vizio Internet Apps smart TV platform running Walmart’s Vudu over-the-top movie app will offer six 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision titles from Warner Bros. The studio confirmed that the first slate of Dolby Vision encoded movies will include: “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Into the Storm,” “The Lego Movie,” “Man of Steel,” “Sherlock Holmes” and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” all of which are scheduled for release “in early 2015.”
The HDR titles have been remastered on the FilmLight Baselight system, for the first time using Dolby Vision, and includes “greater brightness in a fuller palette of rich new colors and deeper nuanced darks never before seen on TV,” according to a statement issued by Warner Bros.
Vlaicu said Dolby has been meeting with other studios and TV manufacturers about including Dolby Vision support in next-generation content and TVs.
Like other series in the Vizio line, the Reference models feature a full-array backlighting system, but with the most LED lighting zones (384) of all the lines. When available the Reference Series will include 65- and 120-inch models (pricing has not been disclosed). Vizio wasn’t prepared to discuss retail distribution plans for the new high-end TV line, but a company representative said the advanced nature of the technology makes it an unlikely initial fit for the brand’s traditional class of mass merchant retail partners, like Walmart, Target and warehouse clubs.
Traditionally, Vizio has stayed clear of smaller retailers, like specialty electronics stores that typically have the ideal sales support to launch advanced new product technologies like HDR and wide color gamut, so it will be interesting to see how the company takes the Reference line to market. Additionally, the 120-inch model will be sold only for wall mounting. The set, which weighs 365 pounds, will ship with an included wall-mount bracket.
The 65-inch Reference Series model will ship with a tabletop stand and a specially developed wall mount. It also includes a 5.1-surround sound system, including a removable three-channel (right front, center, left front) speaker bar designed to attach to the base of the TV and fit within the styling of the stand. Vizio does not disclose audio power, opting instead to say the system emits up to “102 dB of loudness.” The package also includes a 10-inch wireless subwoofer and surround speakers wired to the subwoofer.
In addition to Dolby Vision HDR, Vizio Reference Series sets are said to support a wider color gamut, using the company’s Ultra-Color Spectrum system, and produce up to 800-Nits of peak lighting brightness. Other features include: Clear Action 1800, which is said to offer smoother looking fast-action sports and movies with “an effective 240Hz refresh rate.”
A new VM50 Ultra HD motion and picture-processing engine is included to upscale lower-resolution video sources with enhanced clarity. A Pure Cinema Engine displays frame rates at 24 frames per second, while a High Velocity Mode (targeting gamers) triggers a 120 fps rate for fast gaming speeds, high responsiveness and low latency, the company said.
Meanwhile, the M-Series 4K Ultra HD full-array LED Smart TV collection features nine screen sizes including: 43-, 49-, 50-, 55-, 60-, 65-, 70-, 75- and 80-inches.
All models include the Vizio Internet Apps smart TV platform, with access to several 4K Ultra HD over-the-top streaming apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, UltraFlix and Toon Goggles. The series uses a full-array LED backlighting system with local dimming across 32 LED zones, 28 zones in the 43-inch model.
Other features include a V6 six-core processor, Spatial Scaling Engine to upscale lower resolution content to near 4K Ultra HD, Clear Action 720 motion smoothing technology (the native refresh rates are either 60Hz in smaller screen sizes or 120Hz in 55-inch-and-larger models) and Active Pixel Tuning offering pixel-level adjustments of brightness for increased picture accuracy and contrast, the company said.
Support for HEVC, HDMI 2.0 (in one input) and HDCP 2.2 (in three of five inputs) is included with support for content up to 60Hz. The series includes a two-sided remote with a backlit QWERTY keyboard.
The M-Series class is being carried through Vizio’s core dealer network including: Amazon, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale, Costco Wholesale, Sam’s Club, Target, VIZIO.com and Walmart.
M-series models include the following:
M-Series 43-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available now at $599.99
M-Series 49-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available in May at $769.99
M-Series 50-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available in May at $799.99
M-Series 55-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available now at $999.99
M-Series 60-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available now at $1,499.99
M-Series 65-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available in May at $1,699.99
M-Series 70-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV available in May at $2,199.99
M-Series 75-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV shipping later in the year at $2,999
M-Series 80-inch Ultra HD Full Array LED Smart TV shipping later in the year at $3,999
Vizio’s 2015 home audio collection includes seven soundbars designed to complement screen sizes from 32-inches and up. Models range from a 29-inch 2.0 Sound Bar to the flagship 40-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System.
The new line-up also includes the Vizio 2.0 and 2.1 Sound Stands, suitable for smaller spaces like traditional media cabinets. The 40-inch 5.1-sound bar system features a metallic surface and lines up with any 47-inch or larger class TV. Vizio said it produces a true 5.1-surround-sound experience via the three-channel sound bar, wireless subwoofer and dual rear satellite speakers – which outputs a Sound Pressure Level at 102 dB with less than 1 percent total harmonic distortion.
The 40-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System offers HDMI support, to connect to the TV and other A/V devices, in addition to Bluetooth with aptX for CD-quality wireless streaming via supported devices.
Built-in DTS and Dolby Digital surround sound offers an enhanced audio experience. The system supports DTS Digital Surround, DTS TruVolume and others.
The sound bars are controlled with a remote, featuring a built-in LCD screen on select models. This allows users to view the input source, turn on Bluetooth pairing, enable/disable audio technologies, manually adjust left, right or rear speakers and select other audio settings.
For 2015, the sound bars have been designed to aesthetically coordinate with the 2015 Vizio Smart TV collection, including a minimalistic, linear design. Select models feature alloy speaker covers with anodized aluminum accents, and a vertical array of white LED indicators.
The 2015 Vizio Sound Bars including the following:
29-inch 2.0 Sound Bar $79.99 suggested retail
38-inch 2.0 Sound Bar $99.99 suggested retail
38-inch 2.1 Sound Bar System $179.99 suggested retail
38-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System $249.99 suggested retail
40-inch 5.1 Sound Bar System $349.99 suggested retail
2.0 Sound Stand $149.99 suggested retail
2.1 Sound Stand $249.99 suggested retail
By Greg Tarr
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