Value Electronics 2015 Flat-Panel Shootout at CE Week

For the first time in its history, the highly anticipated event will be held not at the retailer’s showroom, but at CE Week in Manhattan.

Now in its 11th year, the 2015 Value Electronics Flat-Panel Shootout will be held at CE Week, the annual mid-year gathering of the consumer-electronics industry in New York City, not at the retailer’s showroom as in the past. The shootout will be conducted in multiple sessions on Wednesday, June 24, and Thursday, June 25, 2015.

CE Week is a trade show not normally open to the public, but we have made special arrangements to allow interested members of the public to attend the shootout at no charge on Thursday, June 25. All you have to do is send an e-mail to Robert Zohn, owner of Value Electronics, with your full name; you will be able to pick up your badge at the event by showing a photo ID.

The four flagship UHD/4K televisions in the shootout are:

LG 65EG9600 OLED
Panasonic TC-65CX850U LCD (VA, FALD)
Samsung UN78JS9500 LCD (VA, FALD)
Sony XBR-75X940C LCD (VA, FALD)

I’m sure this list will raise some eyebrows among the AVS Forum readership, so I’d like to address some of the inevitable questions here:

Why only four contenders? The number of mainstream TV manufacturers—other than those based in China—has been falling, and these are the only players left standing, along with Sharp and Vizio. However, the flagship Sharp UX30 and Vizio Reference Series will not be available as production units by then, which is why they’re not in the running. The shootout only includes production units, not pre-production or engineering samples.

Why are the screen sizes not all similar? The Sony X940C is available only at 75″, while the Panasonic CX850 and LG EG9600 max out at 65″. We could have chosen the 65″ version of the Samsung JS9500, but we decided that having two larger and two smaller screens was better than one larger and three smaller screens.

Why not include last year’s winners, the LG 55EC9300 OLED and Samsung PN64F8500 plasma? They are both 1080p displays, and this year marks the first time that the shootout will include only UHD/4K TVs.

Why not include step-down models that are more affordable? This shootout is intended to determine the best-performing flat-panel TV available today, which means limiting the contenders to the flagship model from each manufacturer.

All the displays will be fully calibrated as close as possible to the BT.709 standard, BT.1886 gamma, and D65 white point with a peak brightness of 35 foot-lamberts. Among the measurements that will be conducted on each display will be contrast ratio (full on/off and ANSI), input-lag time, and energy efficiency.

Why not calibrate for high dynamic range and wide color gamut? Other than the Samsung JS9500, none of the contenders currently have HDR capability, though they will all acquire this capability—at least for streaming content—with a firmware update at some point. Also, most of the test material will come from Blu-ray discs and a Sony FMP-X10 UHD/4K server, which use BT.709. However, we will measure the widest possible color gamut of each TV just to see where they stand in that regard.

The shootout will be conducted several times during show hours on Wednesday, June 24 (11:00 AM to 7:30 PM), and again on Thursday, June 25 (9:30 AM to 3:00 PM). Each session will last about an hour and a half, and it will begin with opening remarks from Robert Zohn followed by an explanation of the calibration results and measurements as well as the test material and what to look for. On Wednesday, that explanation will be presented by Rob Sabin, editor of Sound & Vision magazine and SoundandVision.com; on Thursday, I will present that information. Then, participants will view the test material and fill out a scoring form, after which there will be an opportunity for some Q&A.

The scoring form will include several picture-quality attributes, and each participant will score each attribute for each TV. After all sessions are complete, the scores will be tabulated with no weighting—each attribute will carry the same weight—and the winner will be determined from those tabulations. A separate tabulation will be compiled from the scores of any professional calibrators and TV reviewers in attendance. The winner will be announced shortly after the event, and the results will be posted on the Value Electronics website.

In addition to the shootout, participants on Thursday are welcome to attend a demo of high-resolution surround sound presented by Mark Waldrep, founder and chief recording engineer of AIX Records, and a demo of high dynamic-range video compared with SDR presented by Joe Kane, well-known video guru. You can also explore the exhibit floor, where many companies will be showing their latest products.

It’s sure to be an incredible event, and I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation. If you can’t be there, Robert is hoping to have each session streamed live online, but that has not yet been finalized. I hope you can join us!

For more info on CE Week, check out its website.