High Dynamic Range in 4K TVs only really started to emerge in the newly released models of 2015 and at that point it was a feature found almost exclusively in the priciest premium televisions (though not all of them since LG’s OLED models mostly didn’t come with the feature. Then in 2016, we saw the emergence of a whole roster of premium, mid-range and even budget 4K UHD TVs with HDR as an integral spec of their display capacities and their prices only kept falling as the year wore on.
Now, in 2017, not only have the levels of HDR quality in the newest 4K TVs improved dramatically, the unveiling of more and ever cheaper 4K UHD models with either HDR10 or Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range compatibility is only expanding.
With this we come to TCL’s numerous new 4K UHD television releases that were first unveiled at CES 2017 a couple of weeks ago. The Chinese company is going to start selling a whopping 25 new Roku 4K TVs in North America and the U.S in 2017 and many of these will come with compatibility with the cutting-edge Dolby Vision HDR standard that is slowly moving to overtake HDR10 as the premium HDR spec for 4K home entertainment display.
With the release of these TVs, TCL is bringing the bar for HDR TV pricing down to just $500 and in the bargain, these new televisions come with the excellent Roku TV smart platform which is also featured in an assortment of set-top boxes with their own HDR support from the Roku Brand.
Moving back to the TVs, while TCL isn’t exactly a top-tier brand in terms of overall picture quality, the inclusion of Dolby Vision HDR in many of the new models will go a long way in helping them deliver some particularly superb display specs and rich color if they’re used to view HDR video sources in particular but also if they’re being used for SDR 4K and upscaled non-4K video. Including HDR support in any TV tends toward also meaning a superior level of color, brightness and black level performance that’s reflected in almost all decent-quality content played on that TV.
The specific models which will offer Dolby HDR support in 2017 are the company’s new C-Series and P-Series models (the latter not to be confused with Vizio’s 2016 P-Series 4K HDR TVs which also come with Dolby Vision HDR). Among the cheapest of the new 4K HDR TVs will be a 50 inch P-Series TV that’s expected to retail for just $500. This is a stunning price indeed for a High Dynamic Range TV that comes with Dolby Vision in particular.
One of TCL’s C-Series HDR 4K TV models
The Roku C- and P-Series TVs will also include HDR10 support and come with a feature known as “Creative Pro” upscaling, which is specifically designed to give non-HDR content a veneer of superior color and contrast performance. These new TVs will also of course come with the usual connectivity vitals like HEVC, HDCP 2.2, HDMI 2.0a and WiFi/Ethernet connectivity. The C-Series is the more premium line of the two and will be slimmer while also offering a supposedly superior HDR Dynamic Contrast capacity for further dynamic range optimization scene by scene. The C-Series models will range in size from 49 to 75 inches and the P-Series will top out at 65 inches.
TCL will also release a new S-series model without Dolby Vision HDR, which will range in size from 43 to 65 inches. This TV will come with the same Roku TV smart platform and access to the same apps as the two other Dolby Vision models.
The Dolby Vision format itself is considered by many tech watchers to be superior to the rival HDR10 standard due to its higher maximum standards for color support and peak brightness. Currently, major movie/TV show creation studios like MGM, Universal, Netflix Amazon Studios and Vudu are all opting to film their content so it comes with Dolby Vision HDR mastering built into it.
The Dolby Format itself also includes support for HDR10 standards and at its own ideal best Dolby means the display of content with 12-bit color (68 billion color values), black levels of 0.0005 nits or lower and peak brightness that approaches the 4,000 nit+ range. HDR10 by comparison is defined by only 10-bit color support (1.07 billion color value) and peak brightness of just over 1000 nits, or 540 for an OLED 4K TV.
While virtually no current 4K TV with Dolby HDR is capable of displaying the full gamut of color and brightness that content made in the standard by the above studios is designed to deliver in the right display, users of most Dolby-powered High Dynamic Range TVs will at least see a part of the full Dolby Vision standards gamut. Usually, this is more than enough to deliver a truly superior-to-SDR level of picture quality in a movie or TV show.
Furthermore, Dolby Vision HDR 4K Blu-ray discs are expected to emerge at some point in early 2017, giving owners of Dolby 4K TVs one further easy to access source of high quality HDR home entertainment.
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