Consumer was king at the IFA Berlin Showstoppers event, at least as far as televisions are concerned. The products and tech we saw largely focused on affordability and optimal viewing.
Of particular interest was the Thompson W9785 4K LED TV. Thompson products are manufactured by TCL, but sold under the RCA brand in the United States. Now that all the major players have staked their claim in the post-HD world, the proliferation of 4K is slowly becoming old news. Therefore, the simple presence of 4K is not worth shouting about.
What is unique about the Thompson W9785 is the price: at launch, the TV will cost €3000 ($4000 converted). True, there are cheaper Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV's available, like the Seiki SE50UY04, but based on our experience these tend to be cheap for a reason. There is currently no official US release date for the Thompson W9785, but considering the proliferation of RCA TVs in big-box stores across the country, an announcement seems inevitable.
Fun Colors and low specs at the TCL booth
Also on display were a selection of low cost, 24-inch multicolored LCD TVs, available in green, pink, and blue. Now before you scoff, TCL doesn't expect you to use the Color Line series in the living room. Instead, the mini-TVs are marketed as second screens for use in kitchens and bedrooms.
Technicolor sets the standard.
At Showstoppers we also paid a visit to the Technicolor booth. Film buffs will be familiar with the old Technicolor logo from pre-1955 motion picture credit sequences. The Technicolor brand may have lost some of its luster in the last few years, but the organization seems determined to remain relevant in the digital age. The company is leveraging its relationship with the film industry to develop a UHD upscaling standard.
One of the largest drawbacks with UHD—at least for the foreseeable future—is the lack of UHD content. Until that content becomes readily available, the majority of UHD TV owners must make do with upscaled high-definition content. Technicolor has identified this as a major concern for consumers and hopes that a Hollywood-endorsed standard will lead to more uniform upscaling. So far only TCL and Marcielle have adopted the certification process, but Technicolor is confident that other manufactures will follow. The Technicolor spokesperson alluded to interest from additional manufactures, but we were unable to get any concrete info.
A portion of the Technicolor display involved the Marcielle 4K upscaling VTV-122x UVD (Ultra Visual Detail) technology. When converting HD content, UHD TVs typically use generic sharpness pattern sensing to upscale everything, including all the original imperfections that would be unnoticeable in HD. The VTV-122x hopes to address the shortcomings of current upscaling technologies by only up-converting the necessary details of the image. On paper, it sounds pretty cool. Evidently, Toshiba thinks so too, announcing its BDX6400KE upscaling Blu-ray player, which incorporates the VTV-122x technology.
Considering the lack of quality UHD content out there, the idea of a standardized upscaling certification process is certainly admirable. Regardless, we will reserve judgement until more information becomes available—or at the very least until more manufactures adopt the technology. After all, a certification is all but useless if it is not embraced by the industry.