After wowing the crowds at CES last January, this ultrawide curved-screen UHDTV is now available to order—and it ain't cheap.
At CES 2014, Samsung, LG, and Toshiba introduced ultrawide UHDTVs measuring 105 inches diagonally with a pixel resolution of 5120x2160, which translates to an aspect ratio of 2.37:1—perfect for watching widescreen movies without letterbox bars. The Samsung and LG versions were curved, while the Toshiba was flat, and I thought the curve was actually a good thing with such a large screen, unlike the smaller flat panels in the Samsung and LG booths.
Many showgoers saw these sets as concept demos that were not necessarily destined to become commercially available products—a long-standing tradition at CES. Well, Samsung just announced that its version of this concept, the UN105S9W, can now be ordered for exactly one penny under $120,000. For that much, I would expect it to be delivered, installed, and calibrated, but Samsung informs me that's not part of the deal. According to the press release, "For owners of the 105" Curved UHDTV, Samsung will offer its 'Samsung Elite Service,' where customers can receive an in-home visit by Samsung Field Engineers who will explain the features of the TV and optimize it for their viewing environment." Apparently, that costs extra, and you still have to get the thing home from the authorized dealer to whom Samsung delivers it about 12 weeks after you place your order. Another additional cost is the wall-mount system, which requires one very sturdy wall!
The good news is that this LCD behemoth sports full-array LED backlighting with local dimming (FALD), which is superior to LED edgelighting in terms of uniformity and perceived contrast. And presumably it has a kick-ass video processor, which must upscale just about everything to its native resolution. (Hopefully, any UHD Blu-ray spec will include anamorphic encoding, which would allow widescreen movies to be shown on such a display at full resolution with little or no scaling.) For sports and news fanatics—and those with incredibly short attention spans—four HD signals from any source (broadcast, streaming, web, etc.) can be displayed at once. And of course, Samsung's Smart TV platform brings you tons of content from online providers.
Like all Samsung UHDTVs, this one houses the processing and connections in a One Connect box that can be swapped out—at extra expense—as new features and functions become available. This approach can't upgrade the panel's colorimetry or dynamic range, but it will allow, for example, faster connections and more online functions to be added.
Of course, this UHDTV is not intended for the mainstream TV buyer—it's aimed squarely at the 1%. But for those lucky few who can afford it, the UN105S9W has an undeniable wow factor that is sure to impress. I just wouldn't want to be the one who has to wrangle it into the house.
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