Saturday March 8, 2014
Following up their unveiling for the attendees and press at the recent 2014 CES
, Sharp is announcing
that their new Aquos Q+ Series LED/LCD TVs
are now making its way onto store shelves for purchase.
At their core, the Aquos Q+ Series is the latest line of Sharp TVs to employ 4-Color Quattron technology, which produces vibrant color, but what make these new sets stand out even more is that they are the only 1080p TVs that can accept and display 4K content.
So, you are probably asking yourself at this point, "so what", these are 1080p sets so anything it receives can only be displayed in a maximum 1080p screen resolution. Well, not exactly.
With the Aquos Q+ Series, Sharp has done something quite innovative. Even though the LED/LCD panel on these sets is 1080p, Sharp's engineers have developed firmware that effectively splits all of the panel's subpixels vertically in half, thus enabling a Q+ set to display images in "higher-than-1080p resolution". Technically, the Q+ process adds up to 2.5 times number of pixels above 1080p (true 4K is about 4 times the number of pixels as 1080p).
This serves two purposes: First, Q+ can bring more detail out in 1080p source signals than a standard 1080p panel, and, more importantly, Q+ processing can approximate the detail that an incoming native 4K image contains, without the expense of manufacturing a true 4K Ultra HD TV.
For more details (including a side-by-side 1080p/Q+ Plus comparison), check out my previous eyes-on report from the 2014 CES.
The Aquos Q+ Series comes in two lines: SQ and UQ. Both lines feature edge lit LED/LCD panels, 240Hz screen refresh rate, 4 HDMI inputs, 2 USB inputs, 3D viewing, and Smart TV (Smart Central 3.0) features.
The SQ models are the 60-inch LC-60SQ15U (Compare Prices) and 70-inch LC-70SQ15U (Compare Prices).
The UQ line ups the ante (and price) with THX certification, Active 3D with Bluetooth glasses included, 240Hz refresh rate augmented by Sharp's Aquamotion 960 backlight scanning, and Superbright technology.
The UQ models are the 60-inch LC-60UQ17U (Buy Direct), 70-inch LC-70UQ17U (Buy Direct), and 80-inch LC-80UQ17U (Buy Direct).
I will conclude this post by saying that when I first heard about Sharp's Q+, I really had my doubts, but having taken to time to see a couple of demos at CES, I walked away impressed - So, whether you are shopping for a new 1080p HD or 4K Ultra HD TV, if you have the chance, definitely check out a demo of the Sharp Aquos Q+ sets and see what you think. Image Provided by Sharp Electronics Corporation.
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Friday March 7, 2014
Although the retail shelves are full of familiar TV brands, such as Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, there some new brands making their way into the U.S. market and TCL
is definitely one to keep tabs on.
TCL is actually the third largest TV manufacturer in manufacturer in the World, and currently owns the naming rights to the former Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, CA.
So, what does TCL have to offer U.S. consumers in terms of TV products? Well, one example is their just-announced 48FS4690 48-inch Direct-lit LED/LCD TV.
Additional features of the TCL 48FS4690 include 1080p native screen resolution, 120Hz CMI (Clear Motion Index - 60hz refresh rate with added motion processing), wide contrast ratio, and three HDMI inputs (including one HDMI/MHL input).
The set also provides both composite and component video inputs, but they are combined. This means that you cannot connect both a composite and component video source into the TV at the same time.
The TV does not have built-in 3D or Smart TV features, however, its HDMI/MHL input allows for connection of the MHL-version of the Roku Streaming Stick, which provides access to almost 1,000 internet content channels (some are free, but many require an additional paid subscription).
The current price for the TCL 48FS4690 is $448.00, and is available through Sam's Club (Check Price). The set comes with a 2-year limited parts and labor warranty.
TCL is also currently offering a 50-inch 4K Ultra HD TV in the U.S. market for less than $999 (read my previous report).
Thursday March 6, 2014
Although the are a lot of home theater receivers that have some multi-zone features
and can be integrated into a custom control environment, they aren't necessarily designed from the ground-up to be a comprehensive centerpiece solution for a custom control and multi-zone custom audio/video distribution and installation setup.
With that in mind, Crestron, maker of custom home theater and home automation control products, has announced its HD-XSPA 7.1 channel receiver.
To start off, the HD-XSPA has what you would expect to find on most home theater receivers, such as up to a 7.1 channel speaker configuration, four HDMI inputs and one output, one digital optical, two digital coaxial, and three analog stereo (two RCA, one balanced) inputs, a subwoofer line output, analog stereo audio output. Of course, just as with most current home theater receivers, the HD-XSPA also supports most Dolby and DTS audio decoding and processing formats, as well as 3D and 4K video pass-through.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. For example, the HD-XSPA, subwoofer output capabilities also include a self-powered output connection that can be used with passive subwoofers, in addition to its standard subwoofer line output that requires the use of a powered subwoofer. Also, it important to note that speaker connection terminals on the HD-XSPA are not the standard screw or push-in type, but are 2-pin 7.62mm 15A detachable terminal blocks (x8).
In addition, HD-XSPA has extensive whole house audio/video distribution capabilities via a variety of Crestron options, such as connection to Crestron's line of Digital Media switchers, as well as full control integration via Ethernet/LAN, USB, Crestron Digital Media switchers, HDbaseT, and HDMI-CEC.
For complete details on the Crestron HD-XSPA, first check out the Crestron's Official Announcement, then, to dig deeper, check out the Official Product Pages, and finally, for pricing and installation details, contact your local Authorized Crestron Dealer/Installer. Images provided by Crestron
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Wednesday March 5, 2014
After some back-and-forth tug-of-war in which Disney threatened to not allow its content properties to be distributed by satellite TV provider Dish Network because of their AutoHop
feature, it now looks like a compromise deal has been worked that benefits both Disney and Dish in a big way.
For Disney, their program content will not only continue to be available to the large audience of Dish subscribers, but at the same time Dish agrees to limit how Disney content is accessed by AutoHop.
For Dish, not only do they keep their subscribers happy (the agreement not only includes Disney films, but ABC TV, ESPN, and other networks), but Dish also gains the right to add more Disney content to its Video-on-Demand and On-the-Go streaming services via its Dish Anywhere App for compatible devices.
For all the details, read the Official Announcement issued by Dish Network.
It will be interesting to see if other high-profile content providers will seek the same type of agreement with Dish.
Related Story: DirecTV Wants Internet Streaming Rights to Disney Content (Reuters)
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