For me, Vizio's new Reference series was the most important product introduction at CES this year. Not only are these sets UHDTVs with 384 zones of full-array local dimming, they are the first I know of to implement Dolby Vision technology, which includes high brightness, high dynamic range (HDR), and a wider color gamut. And as if that weren't enough, the panel and all circuitry in the video signal path is 10-bit; in fact, Vizio had to convince it's IC suppliers to build 10-bit chips!
The demo was incredible—two 65" UHDTVs side by side in a blacked out room, one a Samsung UHDTV and the other a Reference model. Universal delivered two sets of clips from Oblivion—one graded for Rec. 709 color and conventional dynamic range, and the other graded for a wider color gamut and HDR. (The Reference series currently achieves about 80 percent of Rec. 2020 and 800 nits of peak white, while the Samsung was pushed to about 350 nits.) Also shown were two similarly graded clips from Star Trek: Into Darkness.
There was much more detail in the Reference series image—for example, on the Samsung, you could see the pores in Tom Cruise's face, but on the Vizio, you could see how deep those pores were. Also clearly evident were much brighter specular highlights and richer colors as seen in the flames in the volcano from Star Trek and flames from the droid in Oblivion. Overall, the Vizio simply looked far more realistic. I was blown away.
I've long maintained that UHD should be about much more than pixel resolution, and the Vizio Reference series is the first consumer display that addresses my concerns. I was heartened to learn that Dolby is working with movie studios, broadcasters, streaming outlets, and equipment manufacturers to make sure that UHD content includes wide color gamut and HDR with more than 8-bit resolution.
Thanks to the Vizio Reference series and Dolby Vision, I'm finally excited about UHD!
I was unable to get a good photo of the side-by-side demo, so here's one of the 120-incher, which I believe was the largest flat panel at CES 2014. No pricing for the Reference series was announced, but it should be available by mid year.