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The past decade has been a renaissance for TV technology. Televisions have gotten slimmer; we’ve gone from large-frame TVs like CRTs and floor-standing rear-projection models to the flat-panel displays we have on the market today. Screen sizes have also evolved, with 60-inch-plus models growing in popularity and becoming living-room staples.
As screen sizes have grown, so has the demand for greater picture quality and increased resolution. When high-definition televisions first became available, while content was limited, there was no denying the viewing benefits over standard-definition resolution. Over the years, we’ve seen consumer-level high-definition resolution grow from 720p (1366 x 768) to 1080p (1920 x 1080). The next emerging technology in high-definition resolution is 4K, also known as Ultra-High Definition (UHD). UHD TVs deliver a captivating 3840 x 2160 display resolution. In this article we're going to look at some 4K televisions from Samsung, Sony, LG, Toshiba, and Sharp that are designed to bring lifelike 4K viewing into the home.
Samsung’s catalog is chock-full of home theater gear covering nearly every current technology and budget. Their 55” 55F9000 and 65” 659000 4K LED televisions are loaded with features like voice interaction and a full web browser. In addition to displaying content at a resolution of 3840 x 2160, these TVs also feature active 3D technology, which allows you to view 3D content in 1080p resolution. Four pairs of 3D glasses are also included. Local dimming technology is also onboard, which offers advanced backlighting for displaying deep black levels and lifelike color reproduction. The TVs literally dim the LEDs behind dark areas of the picture to bring out shadow details in movie and other content that contains dark images.
These models also feature a quad-core processor for speedy menu navigation and a built-in pop-up camera for video-call services like Skype. If you want to connect your smartphone to your display, Samsung has got you covered. MHL technology allows you to connect compatible smartphones to the HDMI input of the television for screen-mirroring and charging of your mobile device. The latest MHL standard supports up to 4K resolution and 7.1-channel audio. This is a great feature for people who have pictures and movies stored on their phones. You can also use wireless AllShare technology to stream content from any compatible devices hooked up to your home network.
If cost is no object, Samsung’s top-shelf UN85S9AFXZA has an immersive 85” screen that features an easel-like design, which offers multi-angle viewing and a slim 0.2” bezel. This display is big on size and features. It offers Smart Internet features like streaming content from Netlfix, video-chatting with family, or a full web browser for navigating the Internet. With a screen this size, it’s important to keep motion blur to a minimum, which is why this TV includes a Clear Motion Rate of 1200, which is engineered to remove distortion from fast-moving images. This helps to keep content like high-speed sports and action movies as clear as possible. The Samsung UN85S9AFXZA also includes the One Connect Box, which serves as an external single-wired hub for connecting your source components, helping to keep the rear of your display clutter-free.
Sony is a long-time leader in audio/video technology. The 55” XBR55X850A and 65” XBR65X850A continue Sony’s rich tradition of balancing performance and functionality. These TVs work with Sony’s SideView TV app, which allows you to control the TV with your compatible smartphone or tablet. You can also use MHL or Miracast technology to share media from your compatible mobile device on the large TV screen. Sony’s Motionflow technology combats distortion on moving images, while four HDMI inputs let you connect multiple high-definition sources. Four pairs of active 3D glasses are also included for viewing 3D content in Full HD 1080p resolution. Sony’s Simulview feature is also included. This is a great feature for gamers, as it allows users with optional SimulView glasses to engage in dual full-screen gaming on a single display.
Sony’s XBR55X900 and XBR65X900 models offer distinct styling with side-mounted boom-box-like speakers that support Sony’s S-Force surround enhancements for a more immersive audio experience. Sony’s 4K X-Reality processing is also onboard for upscaling lower-resolution sources to the TV’s native 3840 x 2160 resolution for near-4K picture quality. Sony Triluminos technology is a popular feature among Sony’s top-tier models; this feature is designed to add depth to images and make delicate hues like flesh tones appear more natural.
For an even grander viewing experience, Sony’s XBR84X900 offers the same video enhancements found in their 55” and 65” models in a massive 84” display. This display includes many of Sony’s popular technologies like SimulView gaming, lower-resolution upscaling, and smartphone interaction. The XBRX900 features side-mounted speakers with 50W of power and access to Sony’s network of Internet streaming services, a feature typical on Sony's upper-end displays. If you’re concerned about blurred images on fast-paced content like televised sporting events, Sony’s Motionflow technology is also featured. This allows you to enjoy all kinds of motion-rich content on the TV’s 84” screen without the distraction of jagged image pans. As content continues to expand, you can also use Sony's optional FMPX1 media player, which comes pre-loaded with ten 4K full-featured titles and gives you access to Sony's growing 4K content library.
LG’s 55” 55LA9650 and 65” 65LA9650 demonstrate why LG has become well known for producing high-quality, feature-packed displays. These TVs include LG’s Tru-Ultra HD engine for upscaling lower-resolution content, and TruMotion, which works with the display’s 240 Hz refresh rate to produce smooth moving images. Passive 3D technology is also featured, which means that the four pairs of glasses that these TVs include do not require batteries for viewing 3D images. You can also convert 2D content into 3D with 20 selectable levels for viewpoint and image depth. For audio, both the 55” and 65” models include a 34-watt 2.1 channel speaker system. A digital audio output allows you to connect to a larger multi-channel home theater system as well.
The LG 55LA9700 and 65LA9700 4K LED TVs feature a 4.1-channel soundbar for enhanced audio playback and LG’s Voice Mate technology for voice-activated channel surfing and menu navigation. LG’s NANO full LED technology is also featured to help the display achieve deep black levels for added contrast and image depth. Deep black levels prove useful when watching dimly lit films. Like LG’s LA9650 series TVs, these models include passive 3D technology with four pairs of glasses and access to third-party Internet streaming services. With Smart Share Plus, these TVs allow you to make wired and wireless connections with smartphones for media sharing.
LG’s 84” 84LM9600 offers big sound to go along with its expansive screen. It features a 3-way 10-speaker system with dual subwoofers. Motion blur is reduced with LG’s TruMotion 240 Hz processing and Resolution Upscaler Plus brings lower-resolution sources up to near-4K quality. With four HDMI inputs, you’ll have the ability to connect multiple high-definition sources like set-top boxes and gaming consoles. A dual-core processor is onboard for speedy menu navigation and browsing LG’s web-based content. Their Magic Remote with voice control makes navigating through that content quick and easy. The LG 84LM9600 comes with 6 pairs of 3D glasses, which allows you to enjoy 3D content on its expansive display with family and friends. This display is also ISFccc ready, which means that it contains the necessary standards for professional picture calibration.
Toshiba offers two head-turning 4K LED TVs with their 65” 65L9300U and its big brother, the 84” 84L9300U. Both of these models feature sound enhancements from Audyssey laboratories, which reduce fluctuations in volume, provide bass extension, and offer day/night listening modes. Audyssey is a popular technology among audio enthusiasts and is designed for enhanced audio output in environments that aren’t necessarily sound friendly. Toshiba also makes browsing their Cloud TV web interface easy with the included wireless keyboard with touchpad. This simulates a PC-like experience for browsing the Internet and allows you to quickly access content as you would on a traditional computer. At 2.6” deep for the 65” model and 3.1” deep for the 84”, these TVs can be easily mounted on a wall or table stand while not taking up more room than they have to. Both the 65” and 84” models can convert 2D content into 3D and include a quad-core processor for snappy performance.
The Sharp LC70UD1U is loaded with audio and video features. This model is THX 4K certified; passing more than 400 rigorous tests in the pursuit of achieving optimal picture quality. THX certification is a well-known measuring stick to audio and video enthusiasts and is a testament to the quality of the component. A six-speaker, 30W sound system is also built in to the display to help create an audio experience that's on par with the TV's 70" screen and 3840 x 2160 resolution. Sharp's Revelation 4K video processor is engineered to squeeze every detail out of low-resolution sources to bring them near the native resolution of the display. This TV has built-in Wi-Fi for using its Internet services and it comes with 2 pairs of active 3D glasses for watching high-definition material. Bluetooth support is also built in, for connecting wireless devices like keyboards and webcams.
As 4K content continues to grow, it’s good to know that we have models at B&H that are up to the task of displaying 3840 x 2160 in its full glory, with screens large enough to pull you into the image. Furthermore, these TVs encompass many of the technologies that we typically have to use multiple devices to take advantage of. Now you can browse the Internet from your sofa without grabbing your computer, or post to a social networking site without reaching for your smartphone.
If you've seen 4K TVs on display, then you've likely seen their advantages, and the reason there's so much buzz surrounding the technology. If you've yet to see 4K TVs in action, you should—your senses will thank you. At B&H, we have many models on display. It appears the TV renaissance period is still in full swing as 4K (UHD) TVs are starting to grow in popularity, while video games, Blu-ray players, and streaming services continue to push the envelope on high-resolution content. As far as the future of 4K is concerned, it appears to be an eye-pleasing one.