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Sharp focuses on cheaper 4K HDTVs, 'Quattron' pixel-splitting technology to stand out from the crowd

Sharp focuses on cheaper 4K HDTVs, 'Quattron' pixel-splitting technology to stand out from the crowd

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Sharp CES 2014 HDTVs
Sharp CES 2014 HDTVs

It’s hard to differentiate between the flood of TVs announced at CES every year, and 2014 is no exception — Sharp has just announced a slew of new sets, with its new 4K TVs probably representing the most important addition to its lineup. Sharp’s new Aquos 4K Ultra HD series comes in 60- and 70-inch sizes, features a 2160p resolution, and will retail for $4,999.99 and $5,999.99, respectively.

That’s still a huge amount of money, but there’s no doubt that 4K TVs are slowly and surely becoming more affordable — back in September, Sharp announced a 70-inch 4K set that sold for $7,499.99. Given the lack of 4K content available yet, we’d recommend most people keep waiting, as prices will likely continue to become more and more palatable in the coming months. If Sharp's sets catch your eye, the company told us they'd be available "later this year" — probably in the summer.

Useful features, or simply additions to a spec sheet?

Sharp’s also working on some new tricks to inject some life into its new 1080p sets. The company has updated its Quattron technology, which previously added a yellow subpixel to the standard RGB arrangement. It’s new Quattron+ TVs take that subpixel arrangement to a new level — Q+ TVs actually split every single pixel in half, giving its 1080p sets a total of 16 million subpixels. Sharp says this gives its sets 10 million more subpixels than the average 1080p set; it also claims that these are the only 1080p sets that can play 4K content.

We asked Sharp for more details on Quattron+, and the company told us that it essentially splits each of the four Quattron subpixels that make up a single pixel in Sharp's TVs in half horizontally. That gives the set a vertical resolution of 2,160 pixels. To achieve an increased horizontal resolution, Sharp uses pixel mapping: the red and blue subpixels are shared between neighboring pixels, while the brighter green and yellow subpixels are each associated with their own unique pixel to keep that brightness intact.

This all sounds like a fine way to make Sharp’s panels stand out from the dozens of other 1080p sets being released at CES, but we’ll need to see them in person to decide if these are actual improvements or simply features to be added to a spec sheet. Indeed, Q+ sounds somewhat similar to the Pentile pixel arrangement used in AMOLED displays, but we'll have to go see it in person to get an idea of exactly how it performs. Sharp’s releasing two lines of Q+ TVs — the UQ line comes in 60-, 70-, and 80-inch sizes and will be priced between $2,999.99 and $5,999.99. The lower-priced SQ line comes in 60- and 70-inch models priced at $2,299.99 and $3,099.99, respectively — all should be available this spring.

Sharp's massive 8K prototype is on display again

Sharp is also planning to trot out its 85-inch 8K television at CES this year — the company has showed off the panel behind this monstrosity at CES in years past, but this year the company is showing off two different 85-inch 8K TVs. The new one adds glasses-free 3D to its feature set. The TV was built in partnership with Dolby and Philips, but it’s definitely just a tech demo prototype — regardless, we’re looking forward to getting a taste of the resolution our TVs may run at a decade or so from now.

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