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CES 2016 Videodrome: 4K, 8K, UHD Blu-ray, HDR and OLED

When it came to video technology-related news, the year’s CES didn’t disappoint in this regard, and the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was a feast for the eyes.

One of the biggest differences between CEDIA and International CES in recent years is the focus on video. Whereas there are only a few video announcements at CEDIA, CES press day is virtually dedicated to news from major video display manufacturers. This year’s CES didn’t disappoint in this regard, and the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was a feast for the eyes.

Before I dive into my rundown of video news you need to know about from the show, it’s worth noting that one of the biggest video-related announcements at the show had nothing to do with new displays at all, but rather DISH Network’s new Hopper 3 whole-home DVR. Hopper 3 is powered by a quad-core Arm processor, delivering seven-times the processing speed of the Hopper 2. It also includes 16 tuners, ensuring that everyone in the home can always record and watch their favorite program and put an end to tuner-conflict. The Hopper 3 can also support up to seven simultaneous video feeds—six Joey clients along with its own output.

The new HopperGO can hold up to 100 hours of HD programming 

The Hopper 3 will also support 4K video, and DISH announced an agreement with Sony Pictures to deliver movies and other content directly to Hopper 3 and 4K Joeys in 4K.

DISH’s Hopper 3 Sports Bar mode 

Also cool is the new Sports Bar mode, which allows the Hopper 3 to display four full 1080p images simultaneously on a 4K display.

For viewing on the go, the new HopperGO can hold up to 100 hours of HD programming and create a local Wi-Fi hotspot that can support up to six simultaneous streams to portable devices. The GO is roughly half the size of an iPhone6 and can run up to four hours on its rechargeable battery.

Both Hopper 3 and HopperGO are expected in early 2016.

Video Booth Overview
The Central Hall is dominated by the massive booths of the leading video manufacturers, with each company trying to show off all their wares in an attractive and entertaining manner.

LG’s massive CES 2016 booth 

LG’s booth had a really cool and sleek black-and-white design theme this year to showcase the company’s new LG Signature flagship series of products.

LG’s immersive OLED demo

There was a really cool immersive OLED demo where you walked into a darkened room and were surrounded by a huge array of OLED panels including overhead. The room was wisely positioned out of the way as it drew a constant large crowd and didn’t impact moving through the rest of the displays.

4K OLED 3D found support at the LG booth 

While 3D seems to be in technology purgatory, the outside of LG’s booth had a really cool passive 4K OLED 3D display. The multiple panels combined to deliver a super bright and immersive 3D experience.

Samsung’s booth greeted visitors with a wall featuring 44 65-inch SUHD TVs 

Samsung’s booth might have been the largest on the floor based on pure square footage. In fact the outside of the booth had a huge imposing wall that literally looked like a fortress from Westeros that ran for what seemed like ever. The main entrance to Samsung’s booth greeted visitors with a huge wall featuring 44 65-inch SUHD TVs that moved and shifted displaying a variety of images.

Sony’s booth had a racetrack design 

Sony’s booth had a racetrack design with a large inner area that featured a huge video screen banner that circled the entire booth. Outside the racetrack were focused demo areas where you could experience different Sony technologies from TVs, to distributed audio, Play Station, to HRA, to cameras, to a Life Space UX demo that focused on future living.

Panasonic focused on B2B and commercial applications. 

Panasonic’s booth was surprisingly thin on AV gear, instead focusing far more on B2B and commercial-type applications. A large section of the booth was dominated by a Spartan Race training area where people could demo different Panasonic cameras.

Regardless of the manufacturer, HDR—High Dynamic Range—was a common feature being promoted at the show. While I kept my focus on the major companies distributed by CIs, HDR was a prominent theme at other booths like TCL, Hi-Sense, Konka, Changhong, Philips, and others, meaning that it should be mass-market in upcoming sets.

The UHD Alliance has established two criteria for a set to be considered HDR. First, a TV must support the SMPTE ST2084 EOTF (electrical optical transfer function) and achieve one of two combinations of peak brightness and black level depth. Either more than 1000 nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 nits black level, or more than 540 nits peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits black level.”

LG’s Signature OLED panels with support both Dolby Vision and the more widely supported HDR 10 standard.

Samsung’s SUHD display 

Samsung demonstrated its SUHD technology delivering 1000 nits brightness compared to a traditional, non-HDR set.

One of the most impressive displays at the show was at the Sony booth. More a technology demonstration than an actual product, the Backlight Master Drive set used “precision backlight boosting technology with high density direct LEC backlights” to produce incredibly deep, ultra-dark blacks along with peak brightness up to an eye searing 4000 nits! The result was stunning images with blacks on par of OLED but with far greater brightness and terrific image detail. Unfortunately Sony didn’t want anyone photographing this display. In the realm of real-and-shipping, Sony also displayed its new D-series of X940, X930 and X850 Bravia displays which will all support HDR.


Once again LG really focused on OLED. 
Once again LG really focused on OLED technologies in its booth, showing off numerous displays and having a variety of areas to experiences the benefits of OLED, primarily the deepest, inkiest blacks your eyes have ever seen. OLED continues to be the technology to catch in many respects—at least until Sony is able to bring Backlight Master Drive to market.

Panasonic’s 65-inch OLED set 

Panasonic also displayed a gorgeous looking 65-inch OLED set that is capable of delivering 1000 nits of brightness. Unfortunately, the set is currently scheduled for Europe only.

Samsung’s transparent display 

Samsung demonstrated OLED in a cool commercial, digital signage application with this transparent display. This could really point to the future of in-store advertising with smart displays that offer information but still allows the product to be viewed.

UHD Blu-ray Disc
We all knew it was coming, but there was still shockingly little information about the upcoming Ultra High Definition Blu-ray at CES. Even though the UHD BD launch seems imminent, only four manufacturers actually showed models. Both Samsung and Philips say their players will come to market in Q1 with prices under $400. Panasonic will launch its player in Europe first and then bring it to the States later in the year at an unannounced price.

Of the players I saw, the Panasonic definitely looks the most “high-end” with THX certification. Philips took a really interesting approach to launch this new format, going with a design that looks like a dinky, budget-sized DVD player and eliminated any front-panel display. The Samsung looks like a fairly traditional player, however it retains component width. Here are pics of all the players.

From top to bottom: Panasonic, Samsung, and Philips 

Samsung also had a display in its booth showcasing several of the upcoming UHD Blu-ray releases. It appears that all of the first releases will include the UHD disc along with a traditional Blu-ray and Digital Download. There are supposed to be 30 titles available at launch with 100 forecast by the end of 2016.

While not disc-based, Sony did announce it will launch a new 4K streaming movie service this year to be called “Ultra,” which will be optimized for Sony’s UHD TVs.

8K and the Future
Just when you thought that we’d reached the pinnacle of video excellence with 4K, CES goes ahead and brings us 8K TVs that actually appear to be on the horizon.

LG’s 98-inch 8K Super UHD TV 

While no price was set, LG claims its production-ready 98-inch 8K Super UHD TV will go on sale the second half of this year.

Samsung’s 8K SUHD display 
Although no shipping timeframe was announced, Samsung also showed an 8K SUHD display featuring Quantum Dot technology.

Konka’s super-sized 8K Super TV 
Konka has no plans to ship its premium models to the US, but that didn’t stop them from displaying this gorgeous, super-sized 8K Super TV.

Panasonic’s True 8K Imagine Solution 
Panasonic had an 8K touchscreen in its booth that appeared more designed for commercial or industrial applications but the company also showed this “True 8K Imagine Solution” for distributing 8K signals over fiber.

Demonstrating forward-looking technologies like 8K is a big part of CES, and Samsung’s under-development Modular Display technology can be rearranged in a variety of ways. The displays have ultra-thin bezels and can come in different shapes and sizes that fit together to form near seamless images. Even standing just feet away from the 170-inch set, the borders between the displays were all but imperceptible. Another Modular Display demonstration split a screen into two halves and rotated from 16×9 aspect into 21×9 aspect and back again depending on the content. Way cool!

Projection is not normally a large part of CES, but there were a few projectors on display. (Not mentioned here, but also demonstrating high-end projection at the Venetian were JVC and Wolf Cinema.)

Canon displayed true 8K video using four of the company’s REALiS 4K500ST Pro AV 4K projectors blended together to deliver 8K resolution. The demo was called “8K Ride Experience,” and it featured a large screen of ultra-clear 8K video captured as out the front windshield of a vehicle. The images were incredibly lifelike and had amazing depth and detail. To the sides of the main screen were two other screens that displayed blurred images that one would see out the side windows. The combination of ultra-high-def quality and secondary video definitely gave the sensation of movement.

Sony demonstrated some ultra-short-throw compact projectors. 
Sony demonstrated some ultra-short-throw compact projectors as part of its Life Space UX demonstration. The projectors included built-in speakers and could be used on a desktop to throw an image on a wall, of above a bed to beam an image onto the ceiling.

While just launched a few months ago at CEDIA, Sony broke out a pair of its flagship VPL-VW5000ES 4K laser projectors to produce an ultra-bright, floor-to-ceiling image.