CE Week kicked off this Wednesday in New York, and one January buzzword is still alive and well: 4K. At a press conference this morning, Sharp announced the upcoming release of its 70-inch UHD LED TV, the Aquos LC-70UD1U. This big boy will ship out around mid August for an MSRP of $7999—the first of its kind from the company to come to the U.S. Clearly Sharp has no plans to abandon its tradition of super-sized panel production. In fact, it owns one of the few factories in the world that can make a screen that large.
John Herrington, president of Sharp's American headquarters, was there to lead the announcement. His three main talking points included upscaling, improved design, and an exclusive partnership with THX—the quality assurance system that George Lucas famously had a hand in founding.
Is this just a mouthful of marketing? Partially. Upscaling functionality helps cope with the lack of native 4K content—yet most companies offer it, not just Sharp. We should be clear: There is a gaping hole where 4K content should be right now. Upscaling is handy for this reason, but until we lug this TV into our lab back in Boston, we won't sing the feature's praises.
Then there's the built-in speakers on the very attractive panel, which make for bigger and better sound. Altogether, this TV packs a six-speaker, 35-watt punch. The system of subwoofers, midrange, and tweeter speakers is altogether more than what you find on most HD TVs, but it's hard to imagine a buyer dropping nearly eight grand on a television and leaving without a surround system. And yes, THX granted its only stamp of approval on a 4K TV ever, but few are likely to be impressed with that. To top it all off, buyers can expect to get the company's smart platform, Smart Central (no one's favorite), passive 3D, and excellent connectivity. I noticed four HDMI hookups and even an SD reader—so owners can pop an SD camera card right into the TV, and watch as pictures loom up in 4K glory.