Sony goals to reinvent its LCD TVs to match OLED rivals
CES has loads of TVs. So many TVs. Big ones. 8K ones. HDR succesful one (and never). Within the midst of all that confusion, one factor has been fixed: the growing presence of OLED. LG is making extra OLED TVs, Samsung is utilizing quantum dot LED shows (whereas additionally tinkering with the identical tech as its Korean rival). Sony? Properly, it is sticking to LCD for now. However, it is planning to rival (if not greatest) the extra superior OLED know-how with its Backlight Grasp Drive (BMD). Feels like a sci-fi MacGuffin, nevertheless it is perhaps the corporate’s largest TV gambit shortly. To listen to what it was all about, I used to be bundled into a really darkish room with one very vibrant prototype TV.
Sony plans to launch TVs with its Backlight Grasp Drive perhaps later this yr, perhaps in 2017. It is a new backlighting system for LCD TVs that tries to repair the colour and brightness shortcomings of LCD when in comparison with OLED. Sony additionally needs to make sure its future LCD TVs are prepared for the incoming wave of HDR content material (video that has its dynamic vary elevated even additional: blacker blacks, brighter whites).
The corporate’s new LCD prototype can crank out four,000 nits of brightness, whereas most excessive-finish units hover round 1,000).A layer of excessive density LED backlights is paired with software program algorithms and clever native dimming to maintain any contrasting darkish areas wanting how they need to. It is the sheer brightness that caught my consideration instantly. When Sony’s spokesman and assembled engineers began operating HDR content material by means of final yr’s LG OLED TV, Sony’s professional-degree RGB OLED show and its new prototype: an eighty five-inch 4K LCD TV with the Backlight Grasp Drive, the glare coming off the river surfaces and neon lighting was sometimes borderline blinding.
And whereas I do know that is Sony’s prototype TV, the loopy half was that demo clips from Vegas, Annie and The Superb Spiderman all seemed richer, higher, on the BMD set. To those fatigued CES eyes, Sony’s check LCD display nearer approximated its professional-degree RGB OLED than the rival (mannequin not talked about) LG OLED TV. It is the extreme improve in dimming zones that assist to get the darker areas similar to OLED tech. This prototype has “greater than a thousand” dimming zones this time. Sony’s engineers confirmed me its present fashions’ darkish-zones — a handful of giant tough squares on prime of the display — after which they switched to the brand new zones. This time the highlights and lowlights shaped a severely pixellated model (think about YouTube on its decrease setting) of the picture itself. You’ll be able to see on the left aspect right here:
The spokesman tells me that it provides the perceptual pixel-to-pixel distinction that wows individuals with OLED. “Perceptual” is a vital a part of that sentence. LCD cannot match OLED, the place every particular person pixel lights itself up. The youthful tech does not attain the four,000 nits of brightness of Sony’s check set, nevertheless. Sony added that the halo impact for native space dimming on LCD TVs is not an issue, as a result of it is elevated the density of LED backlights, permitting larger precision in relation to vibrant spots.
“We’ve not reached the complete potential of LCD.”
The presentation concerned waves of shade gamut charts and science, however crucial half is how this turns right into a for-actual, on sale TV. “The work on this [Backlight Master Drive], is completed by manufacturing engineers.” We will virtually obtain one thing that’s near OLED with LCD, so now we’re taking a look at a number of totally different issues: energy consumption, the cooling system, in addition to value and measurement. We’re investigating these now.” It isn’t the one one: LG, Samsung and Panasonic are all making an attempt to bridge the hole and enhance LCD TVs. LCDs are nonetheless far simpler and cheaper to make.
One other Sony spokesman added: “We need to present [while we’re still looking at and working on OLEDS] that we’ve not reached the complete potential of LCD.”
Photographs by Will Lipman.