Vizio to launch a line of high dynamic range HDTVs

Vizio Reference Series

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Vizio announced earlier this week that it will be among the first TV manufacturers to ship sets that use the Dolby Vision high dynamic range imaging technology that Dolby Labs first showcased at CES—in 2014.

In fact, the TV manufacturer showed these same 4K displays way back then, captivating attendees and critics alike. The Vizio Reference Series—to be available in 65- and 120-inch screen sizes—pack Vizio’s own V6 hexa-core processor, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a built-in sound bar with two satellite speakers.

With Dolby Vision intended to be the biggest selling point for these new TVs, a brief description of the much-touted technology is in order. Despite consensus among various stakeholders that HDR is the next big step for TVs, the industry has yet to agree on a standard for HDR TVs and content. Dolby Vision is one of the technologies trying to fill that void.

According to Dolby, this is an “end-to-end” solution meant for everyone from content creators to over-the-top (OTT) providers to TV manufacturers. Dolby Vision combines a high dynamic range with an extended color gamut to deliver more vibrant and realistic images.

A TV’s dynamic range or contrast ratio, for those who don’t know, describes the contrast between its darkest blacks and brightest whites. The higher the dynamic range and the wider the color palette, the more realistic the image tends to look.

With content mastered in Dolby Vision being up to 40 times brighter than current UHD (ultra-high definition) TV signals, the 100-nit brightness rating typical of current TV sets is no good. Vizio says its 4K HDR TVs boast 800 nits of brightness. And the company says the Reference Series is head and shoulders above most current TVs with its “Ultra Color Spectrum” that delivers more than one billion colors.

The impact on you at home: You might want to put off that 4K TV purchase for a few more months, for a number of manufacturers have committed themselves to launching 4K HDR sets later this year. Seeing your brand new UHD TV quite literally pale in comparison to a friend’s HDR set may not be such a good feeling.

But do bear in mind that such TVs may not be cheap, especially early on. As for content, be prepared to rely largely on OTT streaming services and 4K Blu-ray discs. If you buy a Vizio Reference Series model, for instance, you will be able to stream from Vudu’s catalog of Ultra HD Dolby Vision movies.

Netflix and Amazon will also support Dolby Vision, though nothing specific has been announced to this effect. Both plan to launch HDR streaming services later this year.

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