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CEDIA Expo 2011: Sharp rolls out Elite LCD displays. Game changer in flat panel industry


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08 2011 - 08:57 AM

Sharp had a press event today (at the Pioneer booth) regarding their new Elite line of LCD panels and we were able to see the new panels in action.  The Pro-60X5FD ($6000) and the Pro-70X5FD ($8500) are shipping now through the dealers that are certified to carry the Elite brand.  Magnolia Hi-Fi, part of Best Buy, is one the dealers that is nationwide.



http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/



I want to provide some context around what I saw today.  At CES 2008, Pioneer had one of the best product demo's I had seen in my years of attending CES with their prototype Kuro Elite Plasma.  We all walked into a room that had black curtains over the wall.  The Pioneer folks turned the lights off so it was pitch black in the room and said they were pulling the curtains back on the wall.  What we saw, at least we thought, was a set of TV Panels with a 0 IRE signal (i.e. no video signal).  As we are all used to with flat panels, particularly at that time, was an afteglow of the panel.  We were told that the panel we were looking at was the current Kuro Elite.


They then said that we were going to see a demo of a next generation Kuro Elite.  A video started with a gold ring spininng in space.  When the video started, we all of a sudden realized that there were four displays, not two.  The next generation Kuro Elite had absolutely no light output with a entirely black sceen and while the gold ring was spinning, there was no increase in the black level and you never could really discern the edge of the screen.  It was simply amazing!



Today at the Pioneer booth, a Sharp representative was demonstrating the new Elite LCD displays.  There were two displays, one was, we thought, turned off.   Needless to say, while the lights were on for this and it wasn't as dramatic as the demo at CES and 2008, it was stil pretty impressive to see the Sharp representative start the presentation from what appeared to be a turned off display!



Some of the key points about this panel vs the last shipping Kuro panel is:

1) Pitch black (i.e. no light) on true black scenes

2) Higher contrast ratio, not just in the fact that black is literally no light output, but that the highlights can even be brighter than what was on the Kuro.  There are menu options that allow for this contrast ratio to be even increased more for room environments where there is alot of ambient light and a need to have the picture be brighter.


Of course, the Elite LCD panel is also 3D enabled, though we didn't have glasses to view the monitor in 3D mode.  One of the unique features about the Elite 3D glasses is the ability for users to switch the glasses from 2D mode to 3D mode.  I have never seen this feature before and what it allows is some viewers of the panel to be in 2D mode while other viewers are seeing the image in 3D at the same time!  An example of why this is important is for a small percentage of the population that has stereoblindness or people that get fatigued with a 3D image.


One might ask how this is possible with a LCD panel.  It is partially done with a full array LED backlinght with local dimming.


When LED lighting for LCD panels first came out, a couple manufacturers starting incorporating a feature called local dimming.  Local dimming allowed certain LED's behind the LCD panel to be dimmed or turned completely off.  Toshiba was one company that introduced a LCD panel with this technology.  A totally black scene on that Toshiba produced absolutely no light output, but once parts of the image had light, the zones were coarse enough that the black around the part of the image that had light wasn't totally black and there was a "halo affect".  A full review was done on this set back in April 2010.  Toshiba demonstrated a 2nd generation set at CES in 2009, but never shipped the unit.

One might ask, why didn't other LCD manufacturers continue with local dimming technology?  Part of the reason around this was consumer infatuation for slim units, which to get to the ultrathin level of LCD panels shipping today, requires the use of edge lit LED's, which add uniformity artificats along with the inability to have the granularity of dimming control that a full array LED backlighting unit can have.  The Elite LCD is not an ultra thin LCD panel, but if you want this type of picture quality, then being ultra thin isn't one of the criteria options.  However, even with full array LED backlighting, the unit is only 3 1/32" deep!

The other key technology that allows the Elite LCD to get around some of the artifacts reported with the Toshiba is what Sharp refers to as Intelligent Variable Contrast.  Intelligent Variable Contrast, coupled with RGB+Y enhances color gamut range and automatically controls brightness and backlight to create depth of color, brilliance, detail and black levels.




Key information regarding the Elite LCD is already online.


Watch the press release and demonstration of the Elite LCD.
















#2 of 11 OFFLINE  

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Posted September 10 2011 - 06:54 PM

HTF is officially on the list for a review model of the EliteLCD!



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Posted September 11 2011 - 03:30 AM

We had a follow-up interview with Sandra Picciochi, field training manager for Sharp, to get some more questions about the Elite LCD display answered for us.  Watch the video and get out to your Elite dealer to see a demo!





#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 17 2011 - 03:07 AM

I was hoping to see this new display being discussed here. Great video interview Kevin with the Elite rep at CEDIA! I have a Pioneer PRO 1130HD plasma from late 2005 now that suddenly lost both HDMI inputs. So I am looking at a new set. The plasma is still good and works, so I could fix the HDMI problem. But I thought I'd consider seriously to get a new larger and fully 1080p capable set. I didn't know about this new Sharp Elite until I saw it last weekend at Best Buy Magnolia. And my reaction is wow! I was extremely impressed with the picture quality. And I compared to the VT30 Panasonic new by and the Samsungs too. I plan to have another look at this set at the store before I commit. I do like how an LCD is not prone to some issues plasma have. Such as potential image retention. Because I watch a mix of 4:3 and 16:9, I do see a ghost of the 4:3 image now. Not s huge deal, but unfortunate. Both LCDs and Plasmas have pluses and minuses I am learning about now that I have been researching this set. I like how the LCD is brighter during daylight conditions. I like it will not likely suffer from image retention. But I want to see how the off axis viewing like on this LCD. At the Best Buy Magnolia, it didn't seem too bad. I'd be curious if any members here got one and what they think. From what I've seen of it, it looks like a worthy addition to the Elite lineage. The reviews I've read on other forums are mainly great! My own impression from the one time I saw both the 60 and 70 inch models is that it sold me! I saw the pre title sequence to Quantum of Solace and it performed like nothing I've seen before. Of course I've not looked closely at any new sets since 2005. The high speed car chase look amazing! I also saw scenes from The Dark Knight and Iron Man 2 and both looked great!

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted November 17 2011 - 04:54 AM

Greetings It is nice but not without its own issues. Viewing angles are still an issue. Sharps have had the weakest viewing angles of all the major LCD players. LG having the best ... then Sony ... then Samsung and Sharp bringing up the rear. The LED/LCD display is no guarantee that it is better in a brightly lit room versus a plasma set. All have reflective surfaces ... and the ones on many LCD/LED units are sometimes more reflective than on a plasma. YMMV. (My top of the line 2010 LG LED/LCD is much worse than 2009 Samsung plasma in my living room with the sunlight coming in. Max backlight is not enough to overcome the reflection on this TV. ) The CMS controls on the Sharp elite currently do not work right. That might be a FW fix away or it might not be. Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
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#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 17 2011 - 08:24 AM

Hey Michael, Great to get your insight, thanks! I hear you about the pluses and minuses of an LCD verses a plasma. I will go and look at the off-axis performance and see how it is for myself. The reports I read from owners is that it's not that bad. The brightness issue isn't that big a deal, I've lived with a plasma for 6 years in a room with cathedral ceilings that have have large windows at the ends plus walls of glass on either side! If I go with a LCD, it's probably going to be a delightful bonus that it's a little brighter. :) You comment about reflections is interesting. My Pioneer is glossy, yet with all that light, I sometimes see a reflection, but nothing distracting. I definitley read about the cyan issue and that Sharp is addressing it with a firmware update. I understand its coming soon and is said to address the color issue. Hopefully it will do it well. Your signature indicates you are a calibrator. And I sense concern in your post about the color calibration. From my limited time viewing the 60 and 70" version in the store next to a Panasonic VT30 (which was one plasma I was interested in till I saw the Elite) and Samsung 7000 and 8000 plasma and LCD units, I thought the Elite looked great. Once I asked the sales guy to reset each set from torch to THX or movie modes. Of course, I am not trained in color calibration. This was the first TV I looked at new TV's in years. It was hard not to be dazzled by what I saw. All the displays were pretty darn seductive. But the Elite called to me. So given I'm no pro at this, but I do design for a living, so I develop color and review color chips as part of the job, I sensitive to colors being off. But I didn't see anything too out of whack. If I got a new TV, I was only going to get a plasma. But this Elite surprised me! So if you were me, you wouldn't necessarily opt for this TV just quite yet. If I could wait a year, I would. But given the HDMI ports on mine just went bad, I'm interested in something now.

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted November 17 2011 - 08:38 AM

Greetings The issue with the sharp is not that it cannot produce nice images ... it can. It's just that one of the controls does not work as expected and when you are using instruments, you hope the controls work right and then the instrument tells you what you need to do. However, what happens is that when you follow only what the instrument is telling you, you end up in the wrong place. The picture that looks good on a graph ... looks nothing of the sort in real life so one has to "eyeball" it to what looks right from memory. Graphs be damned ...!!! End result ... a pleasing picture, but don't expect the computer to back you up on that. When things get fixed, the end result will still look very similar, but the computer read out should agree that it is actually right. This is for a person that knows what they are doing of course.
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#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 17 2011 - 09:00 AM

Thanks Michael! I feel better now that i understand what the issue with the color calibration is. Surprised about the controls not functioning as they should given what the Sharp rep said to Kevin in the video above. She said this set has all the controls to allow for proper calibration. If I get this set, I was going to wait for the firmware update and then have it calibrated.

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 20 2011 - 04:52 PM

Michael or Kevin, or anyone else, I've seen the Elite 60 and 70" models again at Best Buy Magnolia. I saw a mix of Quantum of Solace again, Avatar, some of The Transporter and some SD cable programing. What was good is I was able to see the Panasonic plasma VT30 and Samsung Plasma and LCD 8000 models and a Sony 929 on the same wall to compare. It's really tough to judge not being an expert. So I can only rely on what I like and compare to what I am used to on my Pioneer plasma at home. None were calibrated at the store. Most were on torch mode. What I am confused by is that I saw a lot of noise on the screen on all the displays, what looked like edge enhancement of the film grain. This wasn't happening on the Elite. The Elite gave a nice smooth image. It wasn't in torch mode, but one level less with motion controls turned off or lowered. Not sure about that since I don't know how to set it. Off axis was okay to me. If I stood near the edges of where I think my room would be between 30 and 45 degrees, it was acceptable. If I got on the floor and looked up at it, it was okay. In Quantum of Solace, motion looked okay to me too. During the high speed car chases, if there was any motion blur, I didn't see it, or could not catch it. On slow pans over textured stone walls after the car chase, I couldn't see any smearing of the textures on the stones or terra cotta tile roofs. Skin texture and hair on actors looked solidly rendered too during motion as far as my limited skills to find issues go. Since my plasma is 720 resolution, seeing the same film on this 1080p display is really amazing for someone not used to it. So it's overwhelming visually. So I don't know if I am missing anything that you experts look for. Some shots look so real and life like! Was this exaggerated because it was on LCD? On the Panasonic and the other LCD sets I compared to looked similar to the Elite. And I saw this all on the 60". The 70" near by was playing Avatar. I felt that wasn't a fair thing to judge the display by. It's incredible to see on that set. I thought it was unfair as it was all CGI, so it was looking great! So I sought out filmed material to judge the 60" by. Which is why I chose the Bond film. Avatar really looked amazing. The shot where they tame and capture the flying creatures was amazing to watch. Flawless. And in 2d. About the noise I mentioned above that I saw on the other sets, I figure those sets were set to full torch mode and was probably exaggerating the film grain. Could that be the case? Even on the Panasonic plasma? So I am really on the fence and about ready to order an Elite. But as I said above, I am so overwhelmed by the imagery on this set and it's 1080p, am I seeing something exaggerated because it's LCD verses plasma? I wanted to get another plasma, but this LCD from Elite is really swaying me over to LCD. So I am curious if I am making the right choice if I go this way over plasma. Is the ability to render a film like image happening? It looks great to me! But I'd be curious if you guys agree or not the Elite can be nearly plasma like if calibrated properly. ( ignoring the off axis issue ) Thanks!

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Michael TLV

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Posted November 22 2011 - 12:52 PM

Greetings The colors are still messed up but can be tweaked that last step by eye ... at least at the moment. It's a good bet that even the store TVs are all pumping out an effective 720P quality ... on all their 1080p displays. All sets come out of the box set to a picture mode that reduces resolution by 50%. A THX mode on any display would show the whole 2 million pixels ... A panasonic THX certified display set to VIVID mode would no longer be displaying a THX certified image and the resolution would likely be at half. There are no bad sets here ... and there is no perfect set either. Each has its own set of flaws that are different than each other. Perfection does not exist ... and expecting that is not realistic. Hard to compare sets in a store in any critical manner. Apples to oranges to lemons. Base it on what you like ... get the Elite ... nothing here is awful ... regards
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#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted November 22 2011 - 05:00 PM

Thanks Michael! I wanted to be sure I was making the right choice, the Elite is a lot of cash! More then the other sets. That's interesting info Michael about the sets being at half resolution while being displayed at the store. I would never have known that. About the color adjustments on the Elite, if what I hear is true, a firmware fix could be out soon. Thanks again, I'm glad the options are all good! :)