Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) – Full Review and Benchmarks
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The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) may not wow you with pristine picture and sound, but it offers pretty great quality for the money, and offers a collection of smart features that feel like a steal.
Tom’s Guide Verdict
Go for it. The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) is a pretty good TV for the low price, and comes with more smart features than you’d expect.
Decent picture quality
Better-than-average HDR support
Built-in Google Chromecast
Free content comes standard
Basic port selection
Middling HDR performance
Boring remote control
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Today’s best Vizio 50-inch V505-G9 deals
The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) is a smart TV for the budget-conscious, delivering 4K picture and smart functionality for well under $500. While not advertised as part of Vizio’s SmartCast lineup, it still offers all of the features that make the SmartCast line enticing, like built-in Google Chromecast capability, a selection of locally installed apps, and a dedicated channel of free streaming content. Besides that, it’s also a pretty good TV, with 4K picture, broad HDR support and a relatively attractive design. Overall, this Vizio is one of the best cheap TVs you can buy.
Editor’s Note: (2/13/2020) If you’ve got the Vizio V505-G9, you’re probably due to refresh the software. Check our guide to learn how to update your Vizio TV to the latest version of SmartCast.
Vizio V-Series 50-inch (V505-G9) Specs
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|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|HDR||HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision|
|Ports||3 HDMI, 1 USB|
|Smart TV Software||Vizio SmartCast with Chromecast|
|Size||44. 1 x 25.6 x 2.4 inches [w/o stand]|
|Weight||21.3 pounds [w/o stand]|
While inexpensive TVs rarely have the same sleek stylings seen on their more premium counterparts, the V505-G9 has a fairly slim and stylish look for a more basic model. The bezels around the screen aren’t as obtrusive as those seen on many of the inexpensive sets we’ve reviewed, and the overall construction is fairly sturdy for being all plastic.
Measuring 44.1 x 25.6 x 2.4 inches, the back of the TV cabinet has a tapered design, making it look less boxy than some budget TVs, and more in line with our favorites, like the TCL 43S517 Roku TV. The set weighs a manageable 21.3 pounds, and like the TCL, the cabinet is widest toward the bottom of the set to accommodate the TV’s internal components.
The V505-G9 comes with a pair of plastic feet that are easily attached with a screwdriver, but the TV can also be hung on the wall, thanks to holes for a 200mm x 200mm VESA mount. However, the bulky base of the TV means it won’t mount flush with the wall.
The V505-G9 may not offer a surplus of ports, but it should still do the job. On the back and side of the set are three HDMI ports (including one ARC-enabled port for connecting a soundbar), one USB 2.0 port, a coax connection (and tuner) for antenna and composite video input. For audio, there is an analog output and an optical SPDIF port for digital surround sound.
A built-in Ethernet port provides wired networking connection, but the set also has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. However, the Wi-Fi is the extent of the wireless options, with no Bluetooth for headphones and speakers.
The 50-inch Vizio is good, but not great, which should be expected at this price. The LCD panel offers good color and brightness, with a full-array LED backlight and support for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats.
HDR performance is OK. A climactic nighttime battle in Spider-Man: Homecoming was filled with glowing flames against a dark night sky. But while the highlights shone with higher brightness, shadowy details were harder to make out. A black suit against a dark night sky was difficult to distinguish, and the crushed blacks frequently left darker scenes looking muddled.
MORE: Best 4K TV – Reviews and Comparisons, From Budget to HDR
Our lab testing showed that the LCD panel produced 96.7 percent of the Rec 709 color space, which falls short of the 100 percent or better we’d like to see – the TCL 43S517 Roku TV and the LG UK6300 43-Inch 4K TV both did better at 99.8 percent – but it is an improvement over other inexpensive sets, like the Polaroid 55-inch 55T7U (94.8 percent).
Color accuracy is another aspect to picture quality, and one where the Vizio did pretty well. When measured with our X-Rite i1 Pro spectrophotometer and SpectraCal’s CalMAN Ultimate professional calibration software, the V505-G9 had a Delta-E rating of 2.2 (using the TV’s calibrated mode). A score of zero is perfect. That’s not quite as good as the TCL 43S517 Roku TV (1. 7), but it’s better than the LG UK6300 (3.6) and miles ahead of other sets that had Delta-E ratings of 3 or higher, indicating wider deviation from the colors that should be displayed on the TV.
The V505-G9 did exhibit some minor issues handling small moving details. Scrolling credits, for example, sizzled as they moved across the screen. It’s not a noticeable issue during the actual viewing of a movie – we only saw it in the credits to Spider-Man, not the movie itself – but in certain circumstances it will be impossible to ignore. Turning up the motion smoothing helped a bit, but the problem never fully disappeared.
When we connected our Xbox One X game console to test 4K gaming, we saw that both 10-bit color and Dolby Vision were supported, but 4K gaming was limited to lower frame rates; it would support 24 Hz gaming, but not 60 Hz, despite the TV having a 60Hz refresh rate.
The sound quality from the V505-G9 is pretty good for a TV with only two 10-watt speakers, offering decent clarity and loudness. With no subwoofer, low-end sounds are hampered, and there was some clipping when the volume is dialed up to higher volumes.
Oddly enough, once you’ve turned up the speakers to around 75%, you won’t get much more loudness out of them, even as you creep closer to 100% volume. The sound gets only get incrementally louder. The bottom line is that the sound is fine, but you might want a cheap soundbar if you demand more audio oomph. If you want an even better experience, pick a soundbar with Dolby Atmos support, as the V-Series will handle the higher-end format with ease.
Though the V-Series model line isn’t billed as part of the SmartCast family, it still comes with Vizio’s SmartCast operating system, and delivers all of the benefits (and irritations) of that platform.
Current Vizio TVs support a handful of local apps, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube TV, along with free streaming services, like YouTube, Crackle, Xumo and Pluto TV. Vizio also offers a dedicated free streaming option called WatchFree, which delivers more than 100 channels of linear TV over the internet. While this is mostly a repackaged version of Pluto TV, it is convenient to be able to jump to free channels just by switching to a new input instead of digging through the app menu.
MORE: Best 4K Smart TV Deals in April
Although we wish that there were more apps that could be installed on the set, Vizio does open up a huge number of potential apps by including a built-in Google Chromecast. That functionality lets you share content from a huge number of phone and tablet apps, and that flexibility makes it a great choice for cord-cutters who aren’t put off by the need for a second device.
You can also add voice control to the V505-G9 by pairing the TV with a Google Home or an Amazon Echo. The TV has no built-in microphones or voice assistant, but that’s not a feature we see regularly offered in TVs at this price.
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The Vizio remote control is the same basic model you’ll see on any of the company’s other TVs, which is both good and bad. The oval candy bar of a remote has buttons for navigating through menus and apps, number buttons for channel input and up/down controls for channel and volume.
Up at the top of the remote are six dedicated buttons that give you one-touch access to popular apps, like Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, iHeartRadio, Netflix, Vudu and Xumo. These preprogrammed buttons are nice if you happen to want the apps they offer, but if not, they’re essentially ads to ignore – Vizio has deals with each to get that prime-branded access.
The buttons are mounted flush with the surface of the control, making it hard to navigate the controls by feel. We’d like to see something like backlit buttons or glowing letters on the remote – since it will be hard to see what’s what in a room darkened for movie night – but these are problems we’ve had with Vizio remotes in every price range.
The Vizio V-Series 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV (V505-G9) manages to come through with a surprising amount of capability for a midtier 4K TV. As a TV, it has good color and decent HDR support, with capable built-in audio. The addition of Vizio’s SmartCast software, which includes apps, free content, built-in Chromecast and compatibility with Amazon and Google smart speakers, makes it a full-featured smart TV as well.
While our top pick for TVs under $500 remains the TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV, thanks to a slightly better feature set – it has the same Dolby Atmos support as well as Roku TV’s oft-omitted voice-search capability – the Vizio V-Series (V505-G9) is a close second. If you want an affordable 4K smart TV with plenty of great features and strong performance, the Vizio is a solid bargain.
Today’s best Vizio 50-inch V505-G9 deals
Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he led the site’s TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.
Vizio V-Series 4K UHD TV review: Even entry-level TVs are good now
At a Glance
- Very good picture for the price
- Super affordable for aa 50-inch-class TV
- Excellent content and streaming features
- No motion compensation
- Color isn’t as accurate as next-tier TVs
You won’t go far wrong with this budget TV from Vizio. For the price the picture is very good, although the colors aren’t particularly accurate and there’s no motion compensation. With most material, you won’t have any complaints.
Vizio’s V-series smart TV (the $300, 50-inch model V505-h29 is reviewed here) is the second 50-inch TV I’ve evaluated recently, the other being the slightly cheaper ($280) Konka U50.
Both are infinitely superior to anything you could’ve found in this price range five years ago. That said, the Vizio provides a bit better processing, backlighting, overall image and experience. But it lacks the Konka’s handy Bluetooth connectivity.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart TVs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
The V505-h29 is a thin-bezel unit whose staid, but classy appearance belies its low price. The 50-inch-class panel delivers 10-bit color, a 60Hz refresh rate, and 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) resolution. It has a full-array LED backlight, so it is not zone dimmable. That means it’s lit from behind with multiple lights, but the lights aren’t dimmed or shut off to decrease light bleed.
The V505-h29 is very light for a 50-inch TV at a mere 21.5 pounds. I had no issues slinging the TV around to put the feet on, sliding it around to reach the cable connections, and so on. That also means there will be little strain on the 200mm x 200mm VESA mount point, the mount, or your wall.
Vizio knows that there’s lots of legacy equipment in this market segment, so the port selection includes composite video input and RCA analog audio input/output. There’s also optical digital (Toslink), coax for cable/satellite TV or an over-the-air antenna, as well as three HDMI 2.1 ports (2160p @ 60Hz, with one supporting ARC output). A USB port is on hand for playback from mass media (thumb drives, etc.).
Vizio likes to take care of customers with legacy equipment by providing composite video and RCA audio inputs
There’s no Bluetooth, but the Wi-Fi is dual-band 802. 11n, which is easily fast enough for streaming most content. If it isn’t, there’s also an ethernet port.
Props to Vizio for including support for HDR10+ in addition to Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. Not all TVs do that, and not just TVs at this price. The TV also handles DTS surround and Dolby Atmos, offers a low-latency game mode, and supports both Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. The TV is also compliant with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice control.
Interface and remote
Content-wise, Vizio’s SmartCast Home is as complete as TV user interfaces come, with all the usual streaming providers, as well as curated free content. SmartCast is also easy to use, and can be controlled using the SmartCast app on your smartphone or tablet if you so desire. My only complaint, a distinctly minor one in this day and age, is that it’s completely reliant upon an internet connection and does not when if your broadband connection is down. You can still use the TV, but with limited functionality.
On the other hand, a repeat quick shoutout (I also noted this in the Vizio OLED review) to the company for fixing the Media Player app. It’s still a plain DOS-like file browser, but now it’s responsive, plays all the media I throw at it, and doesn’t crash.
The Vizio V505-h29’s remote is simple, if not always the easiest to use.
The remote is simple and easy to use, though I would’ve appreciated dedicated transport controls to make media playback a bit easier. Still, it fits in the hand nicely and is large enough to not disappear forever between the couch cushions. I don’t talk to TVs outside of testing, but the remote’s lack of a mic might bother some. Hey, what can I say? It’s entry-level, and you can use the SmartCast phone app for that purpose, as well as the other supported protocols (Siri, etc.).
As I said in the intro, the V505-h29 reminds me quite a bit of the 50-inch Konka U5-series I just reviewed. It’s a dead ringer as far as the slight blue color skew and backlighting are concerned; however, it suffers a bit less moiré, shimmer, and other artifacts when processing detailed areas in motion.
The V505-h29 offers a bit more color saturation, but because of the heavy blue content of the backlight/filter technology, reds skew slightly orange; greens, slightly lime. Very slightly, I should say. Many users might not even notice. Again, same as the Konka.
Also, forget the advertising about Dynamic Motion Rate 120. If you read the description carefully, nowhere does it say smooth action or no judder. There’s no motion compensation of any kind—same as with the Konka. That said, within its 60Hz/no compensation limits, it’s better than some I’ve seen. And scenes that produce the judder effect, fast pans and large items moving rapidly across screen, are relatively rare.
Vizio’s V505-h29 delivers a good picture for an entry-level TV. Please note that entry-level is vastly improved over the entry-level of just a few years ago.
While the V505-h29 supports the most popular HDR formats, it doesn’t really have the contrast to do a lot with them. Blacks are slightly better than with the Konka, but it’s still array backlighting with no local dimming. We’re talking charcoal gray more than black. Basically, it handles HDR, but doesn’t lend it the drama that technology can convey with higher-contrast—and more expensive—TVs.
When it comes to sound, the V505-h29 is okay for casual, occasional, listening, but I found it annoyingly muddy. If I were you, I’d hook up something more sonorous in short order. Note that after a firmware update, the sound disappeared and didn’t reappear until I switched to the free curated content. If you experience the same phenomenon, that’s the trick.
The omission of Bluetooth isn’t unexpected at this price point, as it was with the company’s far more expensive OLED, the absence of Bluetooth support does slightly aggravate the weak sound issue. If you want to listen privately on headphones, you’ll need to purchase a separate Bluetooth transmitter ($30 and up) or make other arrangements, although you can use your phone and the SmartCast app to listen using headphones. That’s not an ideal solution in my book.
The V505-h29 is an excellent entry-level TV with a slightly better overall image than the Konka I’ve been comparing it to. If you’re comparing it to higher-end 50-inchers, revise excellent to decent.
Still, entry-level is the not the painful, bereft-of-color viewing experience it was just a few short years ago. Indeed, the $300 V505-h29 compares favorably with $1,500 sets in our first roundup in 2015.
Best 4K TV Deals
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Buying 4K TV no longer needs to break the bank. These are the top 10 online 4K TV deals around to get one while they’re still available.
- May 10, 2019 5:21 pm have
- May 10, 2019
Walk on the show floor in a big store and you’re bound to be overwhelmed with choices, huge price tags, and pressure from sales staff. No thanks! If you want to ensure that you are getting the very best deal, an online store is a must.
Shopping giants like Amazon and Walmart know that customers are price-comparing on their phones, so the best deals are online. Plus, it’s often possible to snag bonus incentives like gift cards, so skip the trip to the store and browse from the comfort of your couch. We’ve put together a list of the top ten TV deals on the web so you can quickly find great TV that won’t hurt your bank account.
Type: One PageSlides
- Visio D65x-G4 65″ 4K UHD and SMART TV
- Samsung NU7200 65″ 7-series 4K UHD TV
- Samsung NU6900 65″ 4K UHD and SM ART TV
- Scepter U550CV-y 55 inch 4K UHD TV
- JVC LT-65MA877 65-inch 4K UHD SMART TV
- TCL 55R617 55-inch 4K Roku Smart TV
- Samsung NU7200 50-inch 4K UHD and SMART TV
- Sony XBR55A8F 55 Inch 4K UHD OLED Smart TV With 0 Dell Gift Card
- LG 55UK6300PUE 55 inch 4K smart tv
- Sony XBR70X830F 70 inch 4K UHD SMART TV
- Visio D43f-F1 SmartCast 43 inch smart array HD
Visio D65x-G4 65-inch 4K UHD and SMART TV
With a quad-core processor, 802. 11ac Wi-Fi support, and access to dozens of free streaming channels, this affordable 4K Smart TV is exceptional value. And because it can easily pair with Alexa or Google Assistant, you don’t even have to get up to find the remote.
- Price: $499.99
- Buy from Walmart
Samsung NU7200 65″ 7-series 4K UHD TV
With native 2160p resolution, HDR10+ support, 120Hz effective refresh rate, and local dimming, this 4K set delivers good results at a very reasonable price. Even better, you get $20 credit for Voodoo when you shop at Walmart.
- Price: 599 $
- Buy from Walmart
Samsung NU6900 65-inch 4K UHD and SMART TV
While this model is a slight step down from the NU7200 above, you’re still getting a lot for your money here with many of the same features in a slightly more bulky setup. And if you need a TV for a double, this set may be available in a store where other sei are not available.
- Price: $597.99
- Buy from Walmart
Scepter U550CV-y 55″ 4K UHD TV
When money is tight, this 55″ scepter set is hard to beat. Sure, it doesn’t support HDR like many of the more expensive kits, but the rock bottom price is incredibly attractive. And since it has four HDMI 2.0 ports, you can keep your consoles and set-top boxes connected without using a switch.
- Price: $249.99
- Buy from Walmart
JVC LT-65MA877 65-inch 4K UHD SMART TV
For a 4K set of this size, this price is surprisingly low. It benefits from HDR support, a 120Hz refresh rate, and a wealth of streaming options, but it’s definitely not designed to compete head-to-head with high-tech TVs. If size and price are most important to you, this JVC is probably your best bet.
- Price: $479.99
- Buy from Walmart
For TCL 55R617 55 inch 4K Roku Smart TV
is not the only 55-inch model from TCL to offer Dolby HDR vision, 96 contrast control zones, wide color gamut support, and dual-band 802. 11ac Wi-Fi, as well as rock solid on the entertainment front. The Roku smart TV platform is included by default for all your needs, and three HDMI 2.0 ports let you get the most out of multiple consoles or set-top boxes.
- Price: $529.99
- Buy from Walmart
Samsung NU7200 50-inch 4K UHD and SMART TV
Just like the 65-inch NU7200 mentioned above, this UHD TV has most of the goodies we’ve come to expect from today’s TVs. Heck, it even comes with the same $20 credit for Voodoo. However, thanks to a significant reduction in size, this version will only cost you $349.
- Price: $349
- Buy from Walmart
Sony XBR55A8F 55 inch 4K UHD OLED Smart TV With $400 Dell Gift Card
If you’re willing to forgo some serious cash for top-level image quality, this 55-inch OLED model from Sony is worth it. It tests every box we’ve come to expect with its smart capabilities and connectivity, but the OLED display is what makes it worth the investment. There is only one peak and you will see how much more bright it is than any traditional LCD set.
- Price: $1,998
- Buy from Dell
LG 55UK6300PUE 55-inch 4K smart TV
Using LG’s ThinQ AI systems, this 55-inch 4K kit is designed to give you what you’re looking for using just your voice. It will work out of the box with existing smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home and the LG Magic Remote (sold separately) allows for voice control without a third party device. Even better, you’ll get a $150 gift card when you buy from Dell’s online store.
- Price: $499.99
- Buy from Dell
Sony XBR70X830F 70-inch 4K UHD SMART TV
As the largest model on this list, this Sony TV is an inexpensive option for a real home theater experience. It has four HDMI ports, ships with a voice controlled remote, and handles nicely even non-HDR content thanks to Sony’s 4K processor and HDR X1.
- Price: $1,098
- Buy from Amazon
Visio D43f-F1 SmartCast 43″ HD Smart Array
Of course, the extra resolution offered by UHD sets isn’t important to everyone, so we’re arranging for economical 1080p TV as well. Broadcast shows using your device’s built-in Chromecast, expect a bright and even picture with full spectrum LED lighting, and use Google Assistant or Alexa to control everything with your voice.
- Price: $199.99
- Buy from Walmart
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CES 2014: Quadruple advantage | Mediasat
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Held at the beginning of the year in Las Vegas, Nevada, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) staggers the imagination with a variety of technology and design concepts. From the Panono spherical camera or the LaCie Sphere steel ball hard drive to smart home and IoT elements. And yet the first violin in it continues to play audio, video, in the end, it is she who has the greatest impact on our main senses. There is no need to prove and convince a lot – just show is enough.
A few years ago, TV manufacturers actively used the ability to display 3D content in marketing communications and thus stimulated consumers to once again lighten their wallets. Now the main bait has become support for a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels or 4K – four times more than Full HD, which is just beginning to penetrate into the homes of individual Ukrainian viewers. The first 4K device concepts appeared at CES in 2011, and since then, this direction has remained one of the key areas at the main event of the year for the consumer electronics industry. Especially in the USA, where the headquarters of the largest media holdings are located, and the Hollywood film industry dictates fashion on a global scale.
Whatever skeptics say about the extreme high cost of TVs supporting Ultra HD (UHD) resolution and the lack of content in this quality, it is now only a matter of time before it becomes mass. Sony’s CEO Kaz Hirai puts it at 5 to 7 years, but HDTV has come a long way and is still on the way. In any case, consumers are always ready to vote with their wallets for quality.
4K becomes available
TV manufacturers, for their part, are making progress: at CES 2014, for the first time, they managed to overcome the symbolic $1,000 price mark for a 4K TV. At the very least, Polaroid and Visio, well-known in the North American market, promised to start selling 50-inch models 50GSR9000 and P502ui-B1, respectively, with a recommended price of $999.
The price of the 70-inch Visio flagship is also quite reasonable – $2599. Most likely, these TVs will use inexpensive TN + Film matrices, similar to entry-level monitors. In Ukraine, 4K models are available only from first-tier manufacturers, but among them there are already several TVs with a diagonal of 55-58 inches and costing from UAH 30,000.
Well-known monitor manufacturers are also in a hurry to “skim the cream” from the emerging 4K hysteria. Dell has promised to start selling the 28-inch P2815Q at the end of January with a recommended price of only $699, and at the end of the second quarter it will compete with the slightly more expensive ASUS PB287Q for $799.
The price reduction was achieved by using the TN+Film matrix and reducing the frame rate at maximum resolution to the minimum acceptable level of 30 Hz.
The GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card, capable of outputting a signal in 4K resolution, can already be purchased in Ukraine today for about UAH 6,500. But the variety of monitors is not yet observed, only one 32-inch ASUS PQ321QE model is available, costing over UAH 30,000. True, in terms of characteristics, it surpasses the budget novelties presented at CES.
Leading the LCD TV market at CES were bitter rivals LG and Samsung, who were “world’s first” to introduce 105-inch 4K models. They have a theatrical aspect ratio of 21:9, and therefore a higher resolution in length – 5120 pixels. Alternatively, the extra screen space can be used to display various kinds of service information. Nothing is known about the start of sales yet.
Not without embarrassment. During the presentation of the 105-inch Samsung novelty, the performance of the famous director Michael Bay (“Armageddon”, “Pearl Harbor”, “Transformers”) was disrupted. The teleprompter broke, and he simply could not find anything to say – and left the stage to the applause of the surprised audience. He later wrote on his blog, “I guess live performances are not for me.” Either way, Samsung’s lineup of 10 UHD TVs presented at CES includes four models with a concave screen and a diagonal of 50 inches.
Panasonic, which until recently relied on plasma panels and thus presented televisions with record-breaking diagonals, big changes are coming. In the first quarter, sales of plasma models officially end, and in the segment of LCD TVs, Panasonic grazes the rear ones, hence the lack of high-profile announcements at CES. But the Japanese still could not resist the temptation to demonstrate curved 4K panels of their own production. They are made using OLED technology on organic light emitting diodes (backlighting is not required).
LG and Samsung also have curved OLED TVs in their arsenal, but with noticeably smaller diagonals compared to 105-inch flagships. Despite the strengths of the technology, it looks like it has yet to make its way to the masses – there wasn’t much of an emphasis on OLED at CES. Perhaps the point is the prohibitively high cost of finished products, for example, the 55-inch LG 55EA980V TV presented last year is sold in Ukraine at a price of UAH 100,000. However, it only supports the usual Full HD resolution.
TV is the same computer
With the advent of the Smart TV concept a few years ago, which involves tight integration with Internet services, TVs are increasingly associated with gadgets, computers and other high-tech “toys”. With the transition to 4K resolution and, as a result, the new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) video compression format, the computing platform becomes the second most important after the panel itself. For example, the same inexpensive Visio is built on the basis of a 6-core processor, in which four cores are responsible for accelerating graphics processing.
Growing consumer interest in equipped TV sets is opening up a new market for chipmakers, and they are looking to make their presence known. In particular, Qualcomm specifically for 4K models introduced the Snapdragon 802 single-chip system, which has four processing cores, a graphics accelerator, and supports high-speed Wi-Fi 802.11ac wireless connections. The latter supports up to gigabit data transfer rates and is already widely used as part of the “smart TVs” presented at CES.
However, along with hardware capabilities, the software shell plays an equally important role, and in terms of software, a similar process of migration of IT solutions to consumer electronics is taking place. First introduced at CES 2009, the open-source operating system webOS replaced Palm OS and was intended primarily for smartphones and tablets. Later, the California company Palm passed into the hands of HP, but it did not work out to grow a worthy competitor for Google Android. Last year, LG showed interest in webOS and introduced “smart TVs” based on it at CES 2014. The platform this year will become the main one for the Korean manufacturer’s Smart TV.
Firefox OS is also built on the same Linux kernel, which Panasonic plans to use in its TVs. However, nothing is known about the timing of the appearance of the first products on the market. Mozilla is the developer of Firefox OS, and several low-cost smartphones were released on the basis of this OS last year.
TV manufacturers are continuing to experiment with laser projectors, which can display bright, high-contrast large-format images right next to the screen. For the consumer segment, the latter circumstance is very important. Introduced at last year’s CES, the LG Cinema Beam HECTO Laser TV projector could sit just 56 cm from a 100-inch screen.
At CES 2014, LG showcased the HECTO with 10X more contrast to 10M:1 and just 15cm away from the screen. . The launch date and price are unknown, but the previous generation model is already on sale for about $10,000. Both support only Full HD resolution.
Sony has introduced a short throw model of the Life Space UX laser projector, capable of deploying an image up to 147 inches diagonally and in 4K resolution right on the wall of the house. It is assumed that such devices will be used not only for their intended purpose, but also for decorating rooms, for example, creating an imitation of a landscape outside a window on a blank wall. However, for such a “design element” you will have to fork out already $ 30,000 – $ 40,000.0003
On the road to the clouds
In the context of business development, Sony began to move in the right direction. The company has moved away from head-on competition with LG and Samsung, which have taken a monopoly position in the TV market, leaving behind the upper price segment. But more importantly, Sony does not abandon attempts to gain a foothold in a much more promising content market. And the growing interest in 4K is a great opportunity to maneuver.
At CES, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai personally announced the upcoming launch of a cloud service for video-on-demand, TV streaming and saving favorite shows. However, it will be available only to owners of Sony devices – computers, tablets, smartphones, game consoles, media players and smart TVs. The success of the undertaking largely depends on what success Sony can achieve in negotiations with the leading content producers CBS, Fox Networks, NBCUniversal, Viacom. But at least there won’t be any problems with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
In the North American market, where all high-tech ventures originate, Sony will have to compete with the largest cable and satellite TV operators – Comcast and DirecTV, respectively. They, in turn, act as Samsung’s partners in delivering content to consumers’ TVs. What’s more, the South Korean producer has announced that the UHD Video Pack with popular feature films and documentaries will go on sale soon, and it was created in partnership with Fox, Paramount Pictures, and others.
The steps taken by companies make it clear that, at least in the first phase, the Internet will become the main content delivery channel available to owners of UHD TVs. Perhaps later 4K Blu-ray discs will catch up, but its prospects are still vague. The further development of streaming services, combined with cloud technologies and the growth of Internet access speeds, cast doubt on the feasibility of using physical media. The transition to 4K could be a turning point in the popularization of services such as Amazon, M-Go, Netflix. In a sense, they occupy an intermediate, and therefore very advantageous, position between TV content producers and the consumer market.
While content producers and distributors are racking their brains over delivering content to consumers’ homes, 4K video can be produced by yourself. In March, Sony promises to start selling the “world’s lightest and most compact” camcorder Handycam FDR-AX100 (in Europe FDR-AX100E) with support for shooting up to 30 fps in 4K format.
Externally, the device differs little from the usual camcorders and weighs 790 grams without a battery. With a cost in the US market of about $2,000, the device is considered affordable and aimed at hobbyists.
One of the key competitors in the video camera market, Panasonic has attempted to take into account two key trends of CES 2014 at once and combined the ability to shoot 4K video in a wearable device. The gadget is attached to the ear and allows you to chronicle events in the first person. Nothing is known about the cost, the novelty may go on sale this year.
Canon decided to take a different approach to the wearable trend that was so pronounced at CES. The company introduced the updated Legria mini X, which is more of a voice recorder with the ability to record video in Full HD resolution. The $400 new product, in fact, paid great attention to the quality of sound recording and suppression of background noise. Wireless Wi-Fi-interface will allow streaming and remote control using devices based on Android/iOS.
A somewhat unusual way to capture 4K video is to use a camera, but manufacturers are ready to offer this option as well. Panasonic has shown off a prototype mirrorless camera that will replace its flagship Lumix DMC-Gh4 this year. Along with photography, it will allow you to shoot 30 frames / s 4K video, for which you will need to simultaneously flash SDXC memory cards with support for a minimum write speed of 30 Mb / s.
Literally in February, four Sony Handycam PJ series camcorders should appear. They provide shooting in Full HD, but are additionally equipped with a projector. Prices are quite democratic, ranging from $500 to $1300 depending on the model. A variety of gadgets can be connected to display images through the camera’s built-in projector.
TV of the future
One of the show’s most interesting gadgets, the latest version of Crystal Cove, the prototype of Oculus Rift’s virtual reality goggles, perhaps best paints the futuristic picture. More precisely, even to say, this is a rather massive attachment for the eyes, held on the head with an elastic band, – such an intermediate option between glasses and a helmet. The device, using sensors and a separate camera, tracks the movement of the head in space and thus allows viewing objects from different angles on the built-in OLED displays. As in real life, only the part of the image that the user is looking at is in focus.
If glasses are destined to turn into a commercial product, at first ordinary users will be able to try it out only in the virtual worlds of modern games. But who knows what will happen next? Perhaps films will also someday become interactive and it will depend only on the viewer whether he will wait for a happy ending or not?
Returning from the virtual world to the real one, a few more words should be said about the TV concepts presented at CES.