MINIATURISATION may be all the rage for wearable gadgets, but televisions have always put a premium on size. The arrival of the latest ultra high-definition (UHD) TVs continues the trend. Bigger seems to be better for consumers who want to replicate the cinematic experience at home.
UHD's arrival has confused shoppers thanks to it having previously been called 4K. And muddying the waters further is Sony's insistence on continuing to label its products 4K UHD, while the other two manufacturers touting the technology, LG and Samsung, are simply going with UHD.
All you need to know is that 4K, 4K UHD and UHD all refer to the same thing: four times the resolution of regular HD TVs. That translates into images that are far sharper, even if you don't have UHD content, thanks to automatic upscaling for HD material.
LG makes shopping in Singapore for UHD TVs easy. Right now, it only sells one-size here - the 84-inch UHD 3D TV 84LM9600. Its Resolution Upscaler Plus feature upgrades the quality of videos from external sources such as hard drives, mobile devices and user-generated content websites.
LG hasn't ignored the 3D experience either. Its Cinema 3D technology adjusts the virtual distance between on-screen objects to offer more immersive 3D images. The 3D sound zooming feature then analyses on-screen objects to generate sound according to location and movement. The TV features a 2.2 speaker system consisting of two 10W speakers and two 15W speakers to produce a lush audio experience.
The UHD 3D TV also gives access to LG's Smart TV ecosystem, which includes approximately 400 apps and access to a growing range of premium content services such as 3D World. It retails for $24,999, making it the most budget-friendly 84-inch UHD TV on the market by far.
LG has also launched two smaller UHD TVs overseas - a 65-inch model, the 65LA9700, and the 55-inch 55LA9700 - but they haven't arrived here yet.
Samsung F9000 and S9
$7,499-$10,499 (F9000), $49,999 (S9)
Samsung has two UHD TV models - the F9000 UHD TV and the S9 UHD TV. Both have Samsung's proprietary UHD upscaling and detail enhancement engine that can convert HD or full-HD content to UHD-level picture quality.
With its 3D converter, 2D viewing can also be transformed into 3D for a cinematic experience.
The S9's quad-core processor allows smooth multi-tasking between content and apps. The S9 also has a more powerful 120-watt sound system compared to the 70 watts of the F9000.
The S9 comes in a whopping 85 inches while the F9000 has two smaller options to choose from - 55 inches and 65 inches. Looks-wise, the S9's large display screen comes with a minimalist metal frame bordered by an ultra-slim bezel that's 0.2 inches wide.
The UHD TVs are also smart TVs which allow viewers to speak into a mic on the Smart Touch Remote to get TV recommendations, as well as get access to apps made specially for smart TVs.
Not surprisingly, the S9 has a heftier $49,999 price tag, while the 65-inch F9000 is priced at $10,499 and the 55-inch at $7,499.
Sony Bravia and X-Series
$35,999 (Bravia KD 84X9000), $6,999-$9,999 (X-Series)
Sony's first UHD TV was its 84-inch Bravia KD 84X9000. Its 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine converts content with different resolutions such as HD digital broadcasts or Blu-ray discs content to UHD resolution.
One unique feature of the Bravia KD 84X9000 UHD TV is its 10 Unit Live Speakerside speaker system which is optimised for the large-size screen, and gives viewers a broad soundstage. It retails at $35,999.
This year, Sony added two more screen sizes to its UHD TVs to give more variety to consumers - the 65-inch and 55-inch models in its X-Series line-up. Like the KD 84X9000, it has the 4K X-reality PRO engine. But the X-Series TVs also employs the latest Reality Creation database and Super Resolution processing to produce richer colours and increased sharpness. Sony says that its Magnetic Fluid Speaker technology allows for better sound volume than other TV speaker technologies.
All of Sony's UHD TVs can view images in 3D with easy-to-wear passive 3D glasses.
The X-Series TVs are sculpted from metal and glass, and have a sleek silhouette thanks to what Sony calls a Quartz edge. The 65-inch retails for $9,999 and the 55-inch retails for $6,999.