Vizio and Dolby Laboratories formally revealed availability and pricing Tuesday on a pair of long-promised advanced 4K Ultra HDTVs equipped to accept and display metadata for Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR).

The initial Reference Series lineup, which Vizio is launching through its website and delivering via a network of custom installers around the country, will include two models: a 120-inch full array LED backlit 4K Ultra HD LCD TV, model RS120-B3, which rings in at a whopping $130,000 and a 65-inch RS65-B2, which will set you back $6,000 (pictured above with optional wall mount).

Vizio is taking pre-orders for the TVs through its web site now. Customers will be contacted by a “local custom installer to arrange delivery and a white-glove setup service,” Vizio said.

More on the new Vizio Reference Series TVs after the jump:

Vizio’s new ultra-high-end approach should be interesting to watch, since the company made its bones selling high-value televisions at bargain prices through major national discount chains like Walmart and Costco, eschewing the class of dealers it is now leveraging to sell the high-performance line.

In recent years, the company has attempted to make its E and M Series 4K Ultra HDTVs available to the A/V specialty/custom channels using distributors like Ingram Micro, but those lines had much thinner margins.

Vizio spokespeople said the launch of the Reference Series models will be open to dealers who work with PowerHouse Alliance distributors to start.

Vizio representatives were unclear about how they intend to service and support the Reference Series TVs after the sale, saying that if a product has a performance issue it will decide on a case by case basis if a repair or replacement will be necessary. Vizio is covering the Reference Series models with a 1-year warranty, at this time.

The new Reference Series models will feature Vizio’s Ultra Color Spectrum technology which is said to deliver a wider color gamut. The 65-inch model adds to this using a quantum dot panel, but the 120-inch model does not. Both sets are said to output up to 800-nits of peak brightness, and offer full-array LED backlighting and 384 Active LED Zones that produces deep black levels.

Both Reference Series models will be the only 4K Ultra HDTVs yet introduced with support for 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision HDR capability.

The TVs will at least initially include HDMI 2.0 inputs and will not support the newer HDMI 2.0a spec. Dolby explained that the Dolby Vision HDR format used in the Vizio Reference Series models will not need inputs conforming to the HDMI 2.0a spec, although other HDR formats conforming to CEA standards will, meaning that the Reference Series models are only expected to support Dolby Vision HDR.

Dolby has long argued that its variety of HDR is superior to other formats in a number of ways, but realistic picture quality stands at the top. Vizio provided demonstrations at a New York City launch event Tuesday showing Dolby Vision titles providing impressive brightness levels, such as the flash of an explosion that lit up only localized areas of the screen, while dark elements in the same picture remained black without crushing out detail.

Dolby Vision HDR also increases brightness capacity and color accuracy in images. Vizio said that Dolby Vision’s enhanced reproduction of luminance creates a new level of high contrast range “with true-to-life intensity, more accurately reproducing the nuances in every picture to reveal fine details.”

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment said it will provide about a dozen 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision mastered titles via Walmart’s Vudu video on-demand streaming service.

The studio has expanded its previously announced slate of movies available in Dolby Vision via Vudu to include: “San Andreas,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Magic Mike XXL,” “Jupiter Ascending,” “Man of Steel,” “The Great Gatsby” and others.

Vizio said Sony Pictures Entertainment is also expected to eventually make Dolby Vision mastered streaming titles available.
Additional Dolby Vision titles from other content providers will soon be available through Netflix, Vizio said.

“Vizio and Dolby have worked tirelessly together to make true High Dynamic Range a reality for consumers. The picture quality achieved with Dolby Vision on the Vizio Reference Series is literally jaw-dropping and establishes a new level of excellence for the industry,” said Matt McRae, Vizio chief technology officer. “High Dynamic Range and Ultra Color Spectrum is enabled through proprietary, custom panel technologies creating a television that pushes the limits of contrast ratios and color gamut while redefining the level of picture quality available at home. Vizio worked closely with partners like Dolby, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Vudu and Netflix to ensure content was re-mastered to take advantage of the Reference Series’ capabilities and ready to stream through Vizio Internet Apps Plus.”

Vizio said Netflix has “committed to remastering content in Dolby Vision and is expected to deliver season one of its popular adventure drama Marco Polo as its first Dolby Vision release via the Netflix app soon. Netflix will also offer season two of Marco Polo in Dolby Vision upon premiere.”

Other features in the Reference Series models include: 802.11ac dual-band WiFi; Vizio Internet Apps Plus for access to High Dynamic Range playback through Vudu; Ultra HD content through apps including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, UltraFlix, and Toon Goggles; support for HEVC H.265 decoding; a V6 six-core processor; Clear Action 1800 motion smoothing with what the company calls “a 240 Hz effective refresh rate achieved with backlight scanning;” and a VM50 Engine for dedicated Ultra HD motion and picture-processing.
Also included is a Spatial Scaling Engine for 1080p upconversion to 4K UHD resolution.

The 65-inch model adds an integrated home theater audio system with a 10-inch wireless subwoofer; two rear satellite speakers; Dolby and DTS sound enhancement, more than 101 dB of sound output with less than 1 percent harmonic distortion.
The integrated “sound bar” includes left and right front channels and a center channel, and detaches from the suppled table top stand for those who prefer to use a separate audio system.

The 120-inch model will not have an integrated sound system. It will ship only with a specially designed wall mount. A special wall mount will be extra for the 65-inch set.

By Greg Tarr


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