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This week Vizio released details about a slew of new products, headlined by the industry’s first-ever lineup of 4K Ultra HD televisions with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and support of Dolby Vision.

Big news (and good news to boot).



Vizio plans to release the first 4K Television with HDR through Dolby Vision.


Up until CES 2015, the vast majority of industry 4K marketing speak had focused purely on pixel counts and curves. Important? Yes. Game changing? Not necessarily. The enticement factor of more pixels packed into typical screen sizes that cost radically more than standard HD displays has been a tough sell. Enthusiasts are yearning for real picture enhancements, not incremental improvements over HD technologies that already perform to extraordinarily high levels. Interestingly, as we’ve waded through several years of pixel rhetoric, two new tantalizing technologies have surfaced: HDR and Wide Color Gamut.

Enter those two techs into the mix and we’ve got a ballgame.

High Dynamic Range is a tech that simply boosts a television’s ability to display extremely bright and dark content with richness and subtleties; shadow details and intricacies within super bright objects (an image of the sun, for example) are given new life and reveal with HDR. Vizio’s new Reference Series, available in 65 and 120-inch screen sizes, offers HDR through using a proprietary Ultra-Color Spectrum technology. The company says that Ultra-Color Spectrum promises better color, but also boosts their Reference Series displays’ ability to produce brighter images (800-nit) through 384 active LED zones of backlighting. This boost in light allows the displays to support Dolby Vision (which is Dolby’s standard for mastering content with HDR).

The latter part of the above paragraph is important to note because there isn’t currently a universal standard for mastering HDR content. Dolby Vision is one of several standards being discussed. This means that Vizio’s new Reference Series sets will be able to properly display Dolby Vision HDR encoded material (which Vizio says will be available from Warner Bros, streaming through VUDU), but will likely run into issues when trying to display HDR content mastered with another standard. At this stage, it’s entirely impossible to know how much of a problem this represents (firmware updates might be able to correct any future issues or, possibly, Dolby Vision might simply rise to the top and become the industry standard), which slightly dampens Vizio’s otherwise exciting HDR announcement.

The arrival of HDR might be a boon for manufacturers banking on LCD television tech. In general, LED LCD TVs can easily produce images bright enough (the 600 to 800-nit range) to ensure HDR functionality. On the other hand, critics have expressed serious concerns about OLED’s ability to reasonably generate enough light to meet HDR standards. Even if OLED displays can be driven to levels that are bright enough to handle HDR, there are lingering questions about the tech’s overall lifespan when driven hard. For those of you lusting after OLEDs purported black levels, motion smoothness, and wide viewing angles, this news is probably slightly discouraging. Whether or not OLED manufacturers can radically increase the light output of current OLED tech remains to be seen. One ray of hope recently shot from LG’s OLED camp when the company publicly stated that they would have HDR capable OLED prototypes on display later this year.


Vizio has not issued pricing and release dates for its new Reference Series.



Image Credit: Vizio, Dolby
 

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Unfortunately the Vizio R series still remains vapor ware. Also HDR is high dynamic range, which means the available contrast range is divided into more finer parts. Overall brightness is not necessarily related to HDR. However for LCDs, it is easier to increase brightness then it is to go darker. The opposite is true of OLED.
 

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Yes, HDR is not directly tied to producing pure brightness from a viewing perspective...but is only possible on displays that are capable of extremely bright output (thus, enabling HDR to be possible).
 

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After the awful experiences I've had with Vizio's M and P series, I don't think I would take a chance in buying the R series.

I've learned that Vizio's sound good on paper, but once I got them home they didn't perform. The P Series had an excellent picture, but the remote wouldn't work half the time, the apps would freeze while loading, and after a few weeks I had some pixel issues.

I was lucky that Vizio gave me a refund, which took 3.5 months to get.
 
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