Sharp has announced its next-generation ultra-large display featuring an 8K resolution, advanced backlighting with 2048 local dimming zones, and an HDMI 2.1 input. Given its dimensions, the Sharp 8M-B120C is designed primarily for commercial applications, but users with large homes and deep pockets can certainly use it for gaming and home entertainment.
The Sharp 8M-B120C is based on a 120-inch UV2A II LCD (presumably IPS/IGZO) panel featuring a 7680×4320 resolution, 600 nits typical brightness (i.e. peak brightness in HDR mode is considerably higher), a 3500:1 contrast ratio, a 6 ms GtG response time, an up to 120 Hz refresh rate (albeit only for 4K content), and 176 degree / 176 degree horizontal / vertical viewing angles. The display uses a direct LED backlight featuring 2048 LEDs for enhanced contrasts. Given the display’s vast dimensions and power consumption, the unit is rated for up to 16 hours of continuous operation.
Sharp says that the 8M-B120C monitor can reproduce 1.07 billion colors and is designed to cover a significant portion of the ITU-R BT.2020 color gamut. Meanwhile, to make the colors look more vivid, the 8M-B120C has a little better representation of red than defined by the BT.2020, according to the company. The display supports HDR technologies, such as HLG.
Being the first company to release its 8K display over five years ago, Sharp has been gradually improving its panels featuring a 7680×4320 resolution as well as displays and televisions. When compared to predecessors, the Sharp 8M-B120C supports a higher typical brightness (600 nits vs. 400 nits), a faster response time (6 ms vs. 8 ms), and an HDMI 2.1 input that will make the unit compatible with upcoming consoles, players, and other equipment.
While the Sharp 8M-B120C is not a television, it does support the company’s super resolution technology used on the company’s Aquos 8K TVs that upconverts content to the panel’s native resolution as well as enhancing its quality. Furthermore, the display can also playback music and video files.
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Sharp 8M-B120C is equipped with an HDMI 2.1 input which supports 4Kp120 and 8Kp60 formats over a single cable, four HDMI ports, a D-Sub (VGA) connector for a PC, and a 3.5-mm stereo audio input. The device also has a 100 Mbps Ethernet as well as two USB 3.0 ports.
Premium video quality offered by the Sharp 8M-B-120C is accompanied by a Dolby Audio-badged audio subsystem featuring four 10-W speakers as well as two 15-W speakers. The LCD also has analogue and optical audio outputs.
Featuring a 120-inch diagonal size, the Sharp 8M-B120C is enormously large and measures 107 x 32 x 78 inches (2717 × 805 × 1979 mm). It is also heavy: it weighs 454 Pounds about 206 KG with it stand.
Sharp plans to start taking orders on its 8M-B120C display in late September and at least initially will make them to order. Recommended pricing of the product has not been announced, but we are certainly dealing with a premium LCD that will be priced accordingly.
Google’s Movie Service, Google Play Movies, Now Offers Movies in 4K and HDR10+ in 117 countries. Samsung is a launch partner but additional platforms will follow.
HDR10+ MOVIES: As promised at CES 2020, Google now offers movies in HDR10+, the dynamic metadata HDR format developed mainly by Samsung. Google also recently added support for Dolby Vision, meaning that some of its movies are available in a total of three HDR flavors.
Some of Google’s first titles in HDR10+ include The Joker, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and Crazy Rich Asians. Additional titles will be added over time.
Samsung is a launch partner and it was confirmed that Google’s HDR10+ titles will be made available on “other additional platforms in the future as well”
“The HDR10+ service is now available on Samsung Smart TV in 117 countries including North America, Europe and Korea,” said Samsung. “Users can now enjoy high-resolution HDR10+ 4K HDR content on the Google Play Movies.”
HDR10+ STILL STRUGGLING: In 2017, Samsung, Panasonic and 20th Century Fox formed the HDR10+ alliance but HDR10+ has been struggling to build momentum against Dolby’s HDR format, Dolby Vision, which is more widely adopted.
Panasonic now supports Dolby Vision in addition to HDR10+ in its TVs while 20th Century Fox has been swallowed by Disney who has seemingly abandoned HDR10+ for Fox titles. Samsung is the sole holdout.
Google’s launch cannot be seen as a win for HDR10+ either as the company is also offering content in Dolby’s HDR. Samsung said that there are now 108 HDR10+ partners worldwide, although only a handful of these are consumer-facing companies. The company added that it remains committed to the format.
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Date: January 10, 2020 – Written by: Henry St Leger –
Dolby Vision HDR Could Change The Way You Watch Everything.
Dolby Vision is everywhere these days. On games consoles like the Xbox One S and Xbox One X, 4K Blu-Ray Players, Smartphones the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and of course across huge swathes of Premium Televisions from the likes of Panasonic, LG, Sony, and more.
But what exactly is Dolby Vision HDR, what content is usually found in the format, and what difference does it make to your viewing experience? The world of HDR can be confusing, which is why we’ve put together this in depth guide to Dolby Vision’s roots, availability, and advantages over competing formats.
Dolby Vision is the game changing advancement to TVs that we’ve needed for the past decade. Yes, 4K has given us additional pixels, but it’s HDR that has made those pixels really shine in a way they never have before.
Not all HDR TVs come with this dynamic HDR format the minimum required is the more basic HDR10 but those that do offer a rocket boosted viewing experience above and beyond usual SDR images, that is, if the screen you’re watching on is able to do it justice.
Dolby Vision is the format that more studios are turning to and harnessing its potential to deliver colorful, dynamic and calculated images on a scene-by-scene basis. All of which will show up on your TV at home.
WITH THE LATEST DOLBY VISION IQ: technology enhancing the way that Dolby Vision is shown onscreen, too by using brightness sensors in high end televisions to auto calibrate picture settings depending on the level of light in the room it’s a format that continues to give more the longer its on the market.
Dolby Vision is still a relatively new format, but from what we’ve experienced, it’s exactly what home cinema needs to match the silver screen. Best of all? It’s available for you to bring home right now.
WHAT IS DOLBY VISION: Dolby Vision is a type of HDR probably the second most popular after the ubiquitous HDR10 standard that’s included on all HDR TVs and players.
And while it bases a lot of its technology on the basic HDR standard Dolby played a key role in the development on it after all, it’s a better solution.
The main improvement from an end-user’s perspective is that it places an additional layer of information on top of a core HDR10 video signal which contains scene-by-scene information which Dolby Vision capable TVs can use to improve the way they present their pictures. This means better brights and darker blacks, and this enables TVs to display the full range of colors in the Rec. 2020 standard.
If HDR Blows You Away Now, Wait Until You See Dolby Vision.
We’ve seen Dolby Vision already in the UK on a handful of Netflix and Amazon video streams, and it’s also available via VUDU and iTunes in the US.
The big one for many AV fans, though, has been Ultra HD Blu-Ray. Dolby Vision is included as an option on the UHD BD specification sheet, and AV fans have been desperate to see how much of a difference Dolby’s system might make to the picture quality of the AV world’s best quality source.
The latest crop of Dolby Vision Blu-Rays, which include the Despicable Me films, West World from HBO and Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, look nothing short of amazing provided you’ve got the hardware to watch them.
WHAT IS DOLBY VISION IQ: Dolby Vision is going to get even better this year, thanks to a new feature in some high-end TVs Dolby Vision IQ that will make shows and movies look great in any room at any time of the day.
The new feature was announced at CES 2020 alongside the new Panasonic HZ2000 OLED and LG Gallery Series OLED, two of the first TVs to use the new technology.
The way Dolby Vision IQ works is by using the dynamic metadata encoded in Dolby Vision content in conjunction with an embedded light sensor in the TV, using the information to change the picture settings and display a more accurate picture.
Basically, Dolby Vision IQ can tell that you’re watching TV in a brightly lit room, where lots of dark details are getting lost. The TV will therefore be able to boost the brightness automatically without you having to go into the picture settings and do it yourself. Dolby Vision IQ also helps to change picture settings to suit the kind of content being watched movies, sports, etc. Dolby Vision IQ is about to make HDR TVs even better to look at.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO WATCH IN DOLBY VISION: For the avoidance of doubt, Dolby Vision is a licensed video platform that requires all the links in the video chain to support it. So buying the Despicable Me 4K Blu-ray discs won’t be enough in itself – you’ll also need a TV capable of receiving Dolby Vision, and a 4K Blu-ray player capable of playing Dolby Vision.
All LG’s OLED TVs are DV-capable, as are its high-end Super UHD LCD TVs. Sony TVs with X1 Extreme chips the ZD9, A1 OLED, XE93 and XE94, plus the 2018 X900F handle Dolby Vision too after a firmware update, as can some VIZIO and TCL TVs in the US. Much of Panasonic’s 2019 TV range GX800, GX920, GZ1000, GZ1500 and GZ2000 also packs in Dolby Vision support.
The newest additions to the Dolby Vision family are consoles including the Xbox One S and Xbox One X and Mobile Phones, albeit on the premium end. The format can be displayed on the all-new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X and LG G6 handsets, bringing truly vivid visuals and color to the screens you’re likely to use the most.
Of course, if you want Dolby Vision from a physical disc, there are only a few 4K Blu-ray players currently supporting Dolby Vision like the now-discontinued Oppo UDP-203 and Oppo 205, but more models from LG and Sony should help fill the void.
If you’re lucky enough to already own a suitable combination of kit, though, trust us: you’ll want to buy as many Dolby Vision Blu-rays as you can. The impact of Dolby Vision on the visuals of both movies has to be seen to be believed.
DOLBY VISION – A NEW WORLD OF COLORS:
Take color, for instance. With our Oppo 203 and LG OLED55C7 combination, the Dolby Vision Despicable Me movies display an unprecedented array of tones and tonal subtleties. Everything from the animated skin tones to background walls and locations contains subtle variations and accuracies of color you just don’t get in HDR10 – a comparison verified by playing the discs’ HDR10 ‘core’ video through the Panasonic UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player onto the OLED55C7.
This helps pictures instantly look more detailed and refined, despite the fact that Dolby Vision isn’t capable of actually adding more pixels to the 4K source pictures.
The Dolby Vision transfer doesn’t just portray more subtle colors than the HDR10 transfer either. Some colors also look slightly different in hue and tone; and invariably our impression was that the DV versions were the definitive, accurate ones.
Startling in its brilliance, too, is Dolby Vision’s mastery of light. Somehow the technology seems to deliver purer, brighter highlights than we’ve ever seen from the LG OLED before, while simultaneously delivering dark scenes with more richness and subtle light detailing.
Actually there seems to be more definition between subtle light differences in every part of the Dolby Vision image, giving it a more stable, rich, deep, solid appearance that looks almost three-dimensional versus the flatter, less precise HDR10 picture.
As if this wasn’t all stunning enough, the settings Dolby has designed for the OLED55C7 seem to handle motion more cleanly and effectively than LG’s own processing with HDR10 does.
Add all the Dolby Vision Despicable Me benefits together and you’ve got an image the likes of which we haven’t seen before on a domestic television, despite the fact that we’re only talking about a pair of ageing animated titles. Having seen the cinematic version of Dolby Vision at work on Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 recently, we can only imagine how spectacular Dolby Vision at home could look with more visually sophisticated titles than Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2.
RIVAL TECHNOLOGIES TO DOLBY VISION: It’s worth remembering at this point that AV brands not signed up with Dolby for Dolby Vision notably Samsung tend to suggest they can deliver equivalent results to Dolby Vision by just applying their own processing power to HDR10.
Having played the Despicable Me discs in HDR10 into a reference Samsung UE65KS9500, though, while that set delivered brighter light peaks than the Dolby Vision picture on the LG OLED, it couldn’t match Dolby Vision for light and color subtleties.
Samsung announced back in 2017 it was partnering with Amazon Prime Video to develop a new HDR format called HDR10+, which also applies a layer of so-called dynamic metadata scene by scene instructions to an HDR10 stream. It’s essentially a royalty free alternative to Dolby Vision, which is built into Samsung’s line of high-end QLED televisions.
Both Panasonic and 21st Century Fox had thrown their weight behind HDR10+, selling it as a more democratic, open-source HDR format. Panasonic recently changed its tune on this, however, and you can now get Dolby Vision on a host of Panasonic 4K Blu Ray players and Panasonic TVs.
We’re not necessarily saying here that your next TV and 4K Blu-Ray Player absolutely definitely must have Dolby Vision support. The format still, after all, has to work within the brightness and color limitations of any TV it’s applied to.
There are non Dolby Vision TVs out there which are either in Samsung’s case in particular capable of delivering color and brightness levels beyond those possible from any current Dolby Vision TV. But there still aren’t many Dolby Vision Ultra HD Blu-Rays available, despite the format’s official launch.
What certainly does no longer seem in doubt from having seen Dolby Vision in action from a 4K Blu-ray, though, is that it does an incredible job of getting the absolute best out of any screen it comes into contact with. And with a technology as confusing and frankly error strewn as HDR is right now, that’s a pretty big deal.
It happened first at IFA 2019, Europe’s largest consumer tech conference in Berlin. 8K was everywhere. At IBC2019, expectations for 8K technology demonstrations were high. Since almost every TV maker around the world has announced 8K TV production. Many have even replaced their 4K TV offer with 8K.
As 2019 comes to a close, 8K continues to show strong interest, but what are the potential hurdles to overcome before mainstream adoption? We still don’t have enough information on next-generation MPEG codec or on Versatile Video Coding (VVC) licensing. And are we certain that VVC is the right option?
Phase 1: the demonstrations for future tech in today’s world
There is real-world proof that encoding for 8K is possible today. Here’s a rundown on some demos that showcase the possibility of 8K video:
The live BT sports demo: This was a collaborative effort. From Amsterdam, multiple partners came together to deliver one hour of live broadcast in 8K showcasing the Gallagher Premiership Rugby 7s tournament. It proved that 8K can be produced and transmitted live from the stadium to the studios.
Harmonic’s IBC2019 8K TV demo: This showed the next step from stadium to screen. With VVC, we can reach 8K resolution with close to 50% bit rate reduction over the popular High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), but that’s not all. Harmonic was also live streaming using content-aware encoding (CAE) technology to provide different bit rates and resolutions from a KPN data center to the IBC Future Zone over a private line. We used updated firmware on a Samsung TV to decode the stream based on the DASH.JS player. The content of an equestrian show jumping contest that leads to an average of 14 m/s using CAE. This represented a world first. We can now measure the true potential of CAE and see how TV sets convert up to 8K. Today, NHK is transmitting live at 85 Mbps via satellite and using the compression techniques developed three years ago and it provides a less than optimal result. The Harmonic demo validates that CAE efficiency depends on content complexity. Even at 39 Mbps, we are still more than 50% lower than HEVC in production at NHK. This matches what VVC promises in 2022, proving that we can use today’s technology to deliver tomorrow’s content, and without burning the budget.
Phase 2: 8K adoption is starting, and it’s exciting
8K is now being delivered with technology that was developed almost three years ago, which explains the 85 Mbps figures. We are now entering the second phase. Operators want more affordable bit rates, with a goal to come close to what is currently used for 4K OTT streaming (a 25 Mbps connection is required for Netflix in HDR). We have demonstrated that it is now possible with a range of 14 Mbps to 39 Mbps, without any optimization done for 8K, using cloud-powered encoding and CAE technology.
2019 was the 8K pre-game. There are more 8K TVs being made, and sales are predicted to pick up in 2020. This is especially the case in countries where 8K will be available. Tomorrow’s 8K streaming experience on connected TVs is in the starting block and waiting for the go-ahead to launch at full speed. 2020 is just around the corner and the games are about to begin. And we mean the actual games. The 2020 Tokyo games are expected to be the first large-scale 8K content ever produced. Will you be watching?
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In barely seven years, 4K TV has evolved from high-end niche product to not just mainstream proposition but in fact to the low end of the TV market. On its way it’s pushed HDTV out of the market, meanwhile it’s been put under pressure already by the advent of 8K TV. The Resolution Gap was already big; now the chasm is gaping. The overlap has reduced to almost zero. How so? There are several resolutions used in broadcast television: 480p (SD), 720p, 1080i (HD) and 1080p (Full HD). Yes, 4K Ultra HD broadcasts exist but they cover well under 1% of all programs available. Meanwhile in TV hardware, we’ve got two resolutions you can choose from in 2020: 4K and 8K. Most major TV brands have phased out HDTVs, which until last year covered the low end of the market, where margins are low.
4K TV now fulfills that role. That may sound surprising, because 4K ijs relatively new. The first 4K model, the Sony XBR-84X900, was introduced about seven years ago, at the end of 2012, at a price level of $24.999. Now you can buy one at $249.99! That’s a price erosion of 99% over a 7-year stretch, or close to 50% annually. That’s how steep the price erosion is in this business. No wonder even major electronics firms have difficulty competing and remaining profitable, and quite a few have divested their TV operations to license their brand name to leaner manufacturers. Granted, that entry-level $249 TV is a just 43-inch in size – a substantially smaller model than the 84-inch model Sony debuted back then. It’s also a second-tier brand – Insignia. But it uses the same display panel technology (edge-lit LCD), it’s got the exact same number of pixels, and in some ways it’s more advanced. It’s got HDMI 2.0 instead of v1.4 (which could not handle HDCP 2.2 copy protection that most source devices demand, or 4K input at frame rates higher than 30 fps); it can handle HDR signals, even if its peak brightness is not great. It’s got built-in streaming functionality and comes with a range of apps for all sorts of video services. And if size does matter, you can now get a 75-inch 4K TV for well under one grand – one twenty-fifth or just 4% of what you had to pay at introduction.
FAST EVOLUTION FOR HARDWARE: It may also come as a shock that in this short period of time, 4K has evolved from the very high end of TV to the mainstream and low end of the market. Low end you say? Yes, for a number of brands, such as Sony, the most basic models are now 4K and HD has been dropped from the range. Samsung has confirmed only a single HDTV in its 2020 range – a 32” version of The Frame, their high design models, which by definition are not low end and likely have some margin left in them. LG confirmed they will not have any new Full HD or HD-Ready TV models in 2020. Panasonic would not confirm their plans for this year but so far it seems they have no new HDTV models on offer. At the same time, 4K is moving away from the high end: This year, one year after 8K TVs commercially debuted on the market with models you could actually buy – as opposed to the prototypes we’ve been shown at CES and IFA for years – Samsung has announced it will no longer offer its most premium display features on 4K models; it reserves those for its 8K QLED TV range. 8K now represents the high end, 4K the mainstream and low end. Meanwhile, TV broadcasting has a hard time catching up, because there’s no business model that offers them any incentive to upgrade. They’ll need to replace their entire production workflow, which is expensive and something they normally do once every seven to ten years. However, even when they start producing in 4K, it’s likely too costly to distribute it in that resolution. That’s because bandwidth is scarce, especially with terrestrial broadcast, but even with DTH (direct-to-home) satellite and cable/IPTV spectrum is limited, and a 4K channel simply takes the same capacity as four HD channels, unless you overly compress it, but that would defy the whole point of Ultra HD. Meanwhile 4K doesn’t bring any additional revenues. Advertisers aren’t paying more money to advertise on 4K TV channels, and the extent to which operators can charge more for these channels is limited. As a result, for 4K content we’re dependent on streaming platforms, for which bandwidth is not an issue, at least not their issue. It’s ironic perhaps that while the overall amount of bandwidth available to us increases year over year, the bandwidth for traditional broadcasting does not, and in many cases even shrinks, where airwaves are reallocated from radio and TV to mobile data. Of course, the relevance of broadcasters does not depend mainly on the resolution they’re transmitting their content in, but this widening gap does add to the worries many of them have about staying relevant in a time where we are witnessing a shift from linear TV watching to on-demand viewing, happening right under our eyes.
WHERE BROADCAST TV IS NOW: It’s 2020, and America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, only just now got broadcast in 4K for the first time, on selected distribution channels and, significantly, streaming platforms. It may be telling that while the production mostly was shot with HDR cameras, the base resolution was 1080p (with some 720p thrown in for good measure), and upscaled to 4K for distribution. The 2018 World Championship soccer games were shot and offered in 4K/HDR by broadcasters in some 25 countries on one-off pop-up channels, removed again as soon as the event was over. 2019 had no such major sports event, and this year we’ll have the European Championships, likely following the same patterns as the world cup two years earlier. The other main sports event this year is going to be the Olympic Games and again the prospects for 4K TV owners aren’t great, since the transmission rights in most countries are held by public broadcasters, who have even more difficulty ponying up the money needed to facilitate UHD programs than commercial ones. In another ironic twist, the 2020 Olympics take place in Tokyo, Japan – the country that’s the farthest advanced with 8K production. The 8K feed is expected to be available only domestically, but in Japan the market penetration of 8K TVs is going to be lower yet than in North America and even Europe. That’s because Japanese living rooms are typically much smaller than American ones, and TV sizes are proportionally smaller (and resolutions accordingly lower).
WILL BROADCAST TV EVER CATCH UP: Will broadcasters ever catch up with the resolutions consumer TVs have arrived at, or should we accept that there will forever be a discrepancy between the capabilities of the displays we’re watching and the content we’re viewing on it? Given the economic realities of the TV business, probably the latter. This is not a new phenomenon however. Even as HDTV hardware had attained dominance over SDTV in the market, most channels were still in HD. It’s just that the gap is getting wider. Someone watching the local news on a high-end TV in 2020 may very well be looking at an SD signal upscaled for an 8K display. That will not look great. Whether it’s acceptable depends on how critical the consumer is, and on how compelling the content.
THE HDR ALTERNATIVE: One way for broadcasters to catch up with the TV hardware evolution is to start transmitting programs in HDR. According to the Ultra HD Forum, 1080p HD with HDR also qualifies as Ultra HD and frankly, improved dynamic range contributes more to picture quality than increased spatial resolution. It takes only a modest amount of extra bandwidth – between 0% and about 25% over an SDR channel, depending on the HDR format used. This changes the economics drastically. To what extent broadcasters will need to overhaul their production workflow again depends a lot on what HDR format they choose. More about that in a future article. We seem to have reached an inflection point. What it means for TV hardware and broadcast business only time will tell.
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