Since 2004, Scarsdale, NY-based retailer Value Electronics has produced an ambitious annual event: a competitive shootout among the flagship televisions from the likes of LG, Samsung, Sony, and other major manufacturers to determine which one is the best of the best: the “King of TVs.” The only break in that tradition was in 2020, when the event had to be cancelled because of the pandemic.
This year, the Value Electronics TV Shootout is back, bigger and better than ever. Of course, the pandemic is far from over, so there will be no live audience as in years past. Only the calibrators, judges, and a few YouTube-based tech hosts will be in attendance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t observe the proceedings—the entire two-day event will be live streamed on Sunday, Sept. 12, and Monday, Sept. 13; I’ll provide the links at the end of this article.
For the first time in the history of the shootout, there will be three separate competitions: 4K TVs, 8K TVs, and 4K UST (ultra short-throw) projectors. According to Robert Zohn, owner of Value Electronics, “This year has witnessed the biggest upgrades in video technology I’ve ever seen—larger and brighter OLED TVs, mini-LED and dual-cell backlights for LCD TVs, 8K, and UST projectors all offer huge improvements in picture quality at mostly reasonable prices. For example, we’ve tested the triple-laser UST projectors, and they achieve over 100 percent of the BT.2020 color gamut! So, I felt it was important to highlight all these developments in the shootout.”
Here are the 4K TVs vying for the crown in their category:
- Hisense 75U9DG Dual Cell LCD/LED ($3,499.00)
- LG 65G1 OLED ($2,999.00)
- Samsung QN65QN90A QLED ($1,999.99)
- Sony XR-65A90J OLED ($3,799.99)
You’ll notice that all of them are 65-inch models except the Hisense, which is 75 inches. That can’t be helped, since the Hisense does not come in a 65-inch size. Even so, I support its inclusion, since it sports the relatively new dual-cell LCD technology, which is sort of a super-FALD (full array local dimming) backlight.
The first-ever 8K TV competition will include:
- LG 77ZX OLED ($19,999.99)
- Samsung QN75QN900A QLED ($4,999.99)
- Sony XR-75Z9J LCD/LED ($6,999.99)
As expected, the OLED is by far the most expensive model in this category.
Also new this year are UST projectors, which have become an attractive alternative to very large flat-panel TVs. The shootout contenders include:
- Hisense L9G ($5,499.00 w/100-inch screen)
- LG HU85LA ($4,999.99)
- Samsung SP-LSP9T ($5,499.99 up to 130 inches)
All three models use laser illumination. The Hisense and Samsung models use separate red, green, and blue lasers, while the LG uses red and blue lasers with a technology that converts some of the blue light to green. Also, all three use DLP imaging technology with 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution thanks to Texas Instruments’ XPS pixel-shifting technology that quadruples the number of pixels on the screen from a 1920 x 1080 imaging chip.
The LG and Samsung do not come with a screen, while the Hisense does. For the shootout, however, all three projectors will be evaluated on custom-built screens from Draper using the company’s XH800X gray UST ALR (ambient light-rejecting) material with 0.8 gain. Each screen measures 98 inches diagonally with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Gear to be used at the shootout
Source devices will include a Kaleidescape Strato S movie server with 12TB of storage, two Oppo UDP-203 UHD Blu-ray players, two Panasonic DP-UB9000 UHD Blu-ray players, a brand-new Reavon UBR-X200 UHD Blu-ray player, and a computer playing native 8K content provided by video-industry experts Stacey Spears and Joe Kane. Test patterns in 4K and 8K will be provided by Murideo Six-G and Seven-G pattern generators.
AVPro Store and Metra Home Theater are supplying all the support equipment. The signals between the sources and 4K TVs and UST projectors will be controlled with an AVPro Edge AC-MX-88 8x8 HDMI matrix switcher that supports 18Gbps, while the signal routing for the 8K displays will be handled by an AC-MX-88X 8x8 HDMI matrix switcher and AC-DA14X distribution amp that support up to 40Gbps. Connections between the sources and switchers will be 1-meter Metra Velox passive copper HDMI cables, and 5-meter Velox2 fiber optic-based active HDMI cables will connect the switchers to the displays.
All displays will be fully calibrated by two highly skilled calibrators. Jason Dustall is AVPro Store’s top calibrator with ISF Level III certification, and John Reformato is Value Electronics’ in-house calibrator, also with ISF Level III certification.
Value Electronics has rented an entire floor of the Company Building in New York City for the event. The displays in each category will be positioned right next to each other at the same height in a large conference room that will be completely blacked out. All the displays will be on rolling stands, so they can be moved into and out of position, straddling the center axis of the room.
How to watch the shootout
On Sunday, Sept. 12, the judges will evaluate the performance of the 4K and 8K TVs using a variety of test patterns and real-world content in separate sessions. Then, on Monday, Sept. 13, they will repeat the process with the UST projectors. They will score each display in terms of brightness, black level/shadow detail, color accuracy, and motion resolution while watching SDR and HDR images with and without ambient light. All the judges’ scores will then be averaged to determine the King of 4K TVs, King of 8K TVs, and King of UST Projectors.
The judges are all top-ranked professionals who are very skilled at evaluating video images. They include:
- Charlie Anderson, Digital Imaging Technician and Director of Photography (TV only)
- Jason Diamond, Director and Executive Producer (TV only)
- Jason Dustal, ISF III Calibrator/Instructor and Application Engineer, Murideo
- Jeff Hagerman, Digital Imaging Technician
- Mark Henninger, Projector Reviewer and Photographer/Videographer (UST only)
- Phil Holland, Director and Cinematographer
- David Mackenzie, Compressionist, Fidelity in Motion
- David Medina, Production Technical Operations Manager, HBO
- John Reformato, ISF III Calibrator
- Giles Sherwood, Director of Post Production, Criterion
After the TV scoring is completed, the winners of the 4K and 8K TV competitions will be placed next to each other and fed the same content at 4K (upconverted for the 8K TV) and 8K (downconverted for the 4K TV) to see just how much improvement, if any, 8K displays offer over 4K. This will be a fascinating exercise that I really wish I could see in person!
The 4K and 8K TV shootouts will be presided over by Stacey Spears, co-creator of the Benchmark series of setup and evaluation discs, including the latest UHD HDR Benchmark on UHD Blu-ray. He is also supplying some 8K content for the shootout. The following day, the master of ceremonies will be Rob Sabin, editor-in-chief of ProjectorCentral.com.
As I mentioned earlier, the entire event will be live streamed, starting at 9:00 AM Eastern time on Sunday 9/12, and 10:00 AM Eastern on Monday 9/13. Here’s the complete schedule with links to each day’s live stream:
TV Shootout live stream: Sunday, 9/12
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 4K TV Shootout Evaluation
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch and Panel Discussion
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 4K TV Shootout Evaluation
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. 8K TV Shootout Evaluation
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Announcement of winners
UST Projector Shootout live stream: Monday, 9/13
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. 4K/8K Kings of TV comparison
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. UST Projector Shootout Evaluation
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch and Panel Discussion
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. UST Projector Shootout Evaluation
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Announcement of winners
I’ll write up the results and post them on TechHive as soon as they are available, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, I plan to tune into at least some of the event as it’s happening, though that won’t allow a reasonable evaluation of the displays. Still, it should be very interesting. I’m a big fan of the Value Electronics Shootout, and I thank Robert Zohn for his dedication to this unique and useful exercise.