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Monday, January 20, 2014

Sharp's AQUOS Quattron+ TV Pumps Up Image with the Power of Sub-Pixels

While a lot of TV manufacturers are very focused on Ultra HD TV this week and all of the detailed goodness brought to the table by those extra pixels, Sharp Electronics has come to CES 2014 packing extra sub-pixels. "Huh?" you may say? And for good reason.

A pixel (or picture element) is a single dot in what makes up a picture. 1080p TVs have roughly 2 million pixels (1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high). But inside each of these pixels are tiny sub-pixels, kind of like atoms making up a molecule... only different. On most LCD and LED/LCD TVs, you have three sub-pixels: one red, one green, and one blue. Turn them all on at the same time at the same brightness and you'll get white. Turn them all off, you get black. Mix them together in varying intensities to get all those other colors.

Sharp's Quattron technology does things differently, adding a 4th sub-pixel: yellow. Sharp says this allows them to reproduce more color variations, and also to improve overall brightness and contrast which gives you more perceived detail. In 2014, Sharp will offer select sets with Quattron+ which doubles the number of sub-pixels by splitting each one into upper and lower regions. Sharp says by increasing the number of sub-pixels, and enhancing the sets to accept a native 4K (Ultra HD) signal, these sets can provide the closest thing to Ultra HD viewing from a standard 1080 High Definition TV.

 The paparazzi strain to catch a glimpse of Sharp's new LED/LCD TV line at CES 2014.

That's not to say that the company won't have its own native 4K Ultra HD TVs in 2014. (And I will get to those in a minute.) However, Sharp thinks the larger market will be for the more affordable 1080p TVs so they've put the Quattron+ Series at the top of their announcements for 2014. Also known as the Q+ Series, these sets are for those people who aren't quite ready to take the economic jump into 4K, but also want something a little better than the typical 1080p TV.

By adding the yellow sub-pixels, then splitting each into independently addressable regions, the end result is a hefty 16 million subpixels: 10 million more than the typical HDTV. Sharp says the end result offers a "near UHD experience." Hey, it's THX certified, so that's definitely impressive.

 The new Quattron+ Series boasts 16 million subpixels, which is 10 million more than the typical HDTV.

Available in 60-, 70- and 80-inch screen sizes, the Q+ Series will sell as the UQ and SQ lines. Both versions have built-in upscaling, four HDMI inputs, two USB ports, and a new version of Sharp's SmartCentral smart TV platform. Those web-based features will include Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, VUDU, Pandora, Rhapsody, Facebook and gaming, as well as the SmartCentral interactive guide for search across the platform, a built-in web browser, split-screen functionality, and the option to integrate smartphones and tablets with the free SmartCentral mobile app.

The UQ line also adds in AquoMotion 960 motion processing, Super Bright technology, Bluetooth wireless streaming, 35 watts of audio power, and 3D support with two pairs of glasses in the box. Those models will have prices ranging from $2999.99 to $5999.99. The SQ line drops the 80-inch option and will offer the 60-inch model for $2299.99, with the 70-incher going for $3099.99.

If you're looking for a true 4K (Ultra HD TV), Sharp's AQUOS 4K Ultra HD TV line will have THX certification for a new 60-inch model and an updated 70-incher. Both models have 4K Ultra HD 2160p resolution (3840x2160 pixels), a built-in upscaler, and a dual-core processor for all of the SmartCentral perks. Other features include AquoMotion 240 with a 120Hz panel, four HDMI inputs, two USB ports, and 3D capabilities thanks to the two pairs of Bluetooth-enabled glasses included. Sharp has priced the 60-inch Ultra HD model at $4999.99, with the 70-inch version listed at $5999.99.

Sharp also has more non-4K models coming. The AQUOS Quattron (Q) Series will offer the standard Quattron yellow sub-pixel boost, in 60- and 70-inch screen sizes. Other features in this line include a 240Hz panel, the dual-core processor and SmartCentral, four HDMI inputs, and two USB ports. The 60-inch Q has an MSRP of $1699.99, with the 70-inch version priced at $2699.99.

There will also be 60-, 70-, 80- and 90-inch versions of the Sharp AQUOS HD LE650 Series, as well as smaller 32-, 39- and 48-inch models. Those larger sizes have a 1080p image, the SmartCentral platform, a 120Hz panel, a dual-core processor, four HDMI inputs and two USB ports. The 90-incher also has 3D options, with glasses. Prices for the LE650 Series will range from $1299.99 to $8,999.99.

If you're already wondering what comes after 4K, Sharp also plans to release an 85-inch 8K glasses-free 3D TV this year. Created in conjunction with Phillips and Dolby, this model has a 7680 x 4320 resolution and promises an immersive 3D experience, all without the burden of 3D glasses.

Sharp says that the AQUOS HD, Q and Q+ models will all start shipping to retailers nationwide sometime this spring.

 Sharp's 4K Ultra HD Series promises THX 4K certification, a built-in upscaler, and SmartCentral smart TV features.

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