ViewSonic VP2780-4K – a strong display at a reasonable price?

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Whether you call it 4K or Ultra HD, the next generation of monitors is still too pricey for most consumers. However, for professional use ViewSonic’s new VP2780-4K looks to be a viable budget option.

It’s a 27-inch display with a 3840×2160 pixel resolution. When you’re working on graphics or video editing, a sharp picture isn’t sufficient: you need as wide a range of colours as possible. PC Advisor notes the monitor can show every one of the possible colours covered by the older sRGB colour system, along with 80 percent of the potential colours on Adobe systems.

PC Pro was impressed with the display’s colour and contrast, but noted that in its review model at least, images had an unwanted “warm, reddish tint.” It also criticised the variance in brightness across the monitor.

Another key feature of the VP2780-4K is that it’s among the first to support HDMI 2.0. That means double the bandwidth of the more-common HDMI 1.4, in turn making it possible to run a 4K resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate. PC World notes that previous 4K monitors have been stuck at an “unusable” 30Hz, so this is one of the first monitors to fully exploit 4K’s potential.

Several reviewers criticised the monitor’s on-screen menu set-up. It uses a touch-sensitive input on the bezel, but PC Advisor found this required such a firm press that you’d need to hold the monitor in place with your other hand.

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While £699 puts this firmly in the professional category, the VP2780-4K seems to be very much a budget model within this context. If the early reviews are anything to go by, it’s a matter of viewpoint: you can see the annoyances and limitations as unacceptable in such an expensive purchase, or you can see the screen quality and resolution as making it a bargain compared with rival models that can cost almost twice as much.

Visit Viewsonic to find out more.

The 40-inch 4K Philips UHD display – size matters, but what of the price?

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They say size doesn’t matter. Well try telling that the big screen-loving consumer fraternity, who, no matter how small a room might be, are determined to squeeze a mighty and domineering monitor in the corner. Given our burgeoning love-affair for large monitors, such products are likely to be amongst the best-selling festive items this Christmas. And boy are they getting bigger.

Enter the 40-inch Philips 4K monitor, which offers users a 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution.

We have to admit that at a first glance, with a sleek design, squared-corners and slim frame, the Philips 40-inch 4K UHD display certainly looks the part. But what about, excuse the pun, the bigger picture?

PCR Online are quick to point out MMDs, the technology and brand license partner for Philips monitors, newest arrival to the Philips’ TV range, has a screen that offers up to four times the resolution of a full HD monitor, packing four times as many pixels in the same area. PCR also seem impressed by the wide range of ports the 40-inch 40K comes equipped with – a USB 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, and an HDMI 1.4.

4K News and Reviews eagerly report on everything entering the marketplace with a 4K display. As you can imagine, 4K jumped on the Philips 4K set. Talking about the new Philips screen, 4K said:

“[It] is almost the size of a smaller Ultra HD TV at 40 diagonal inches and this is excellent news for gamers and design prose who are falling in love with 4K graphics.”

Asides boasting an on-screen PPI density which is “truly close to ideal”, 4K is quick to highlight that users have the benefit of 176 degree viewing angles, eight bit colour depth and a SRGB colour gamut.

Room to spread out

The Channel Post is impressed by the capabilities the device’s extra-large display provides. With plenty of room, the Channel Post states, users can spread out and navigate multiple applications and windows simultaneously.

“The 4K UHD gives an extra edge for professional users such as photographers and videographers, fine detail with unrivalled clarity, and the new display’s true 8-bit and FRC colour depth ensures colour fidelity as well as UltraClear images,” says Channel Post.

The IT analysis site also believes the Philips 4K UHD will be great for finance professionals, as the new display will mean users can run data-intensive applications in multiple windows, whilst retaining space, clarity and attention to detail.

A price war has commenced

In its 4.5 star review of the 4K TV, Tech Radar says that because Philips isn’t normally associated with “aggressive value”, selling its first 4K/UHD TV for a price that undercuts all of its 65-inch 4k UHD TV rivals, is a “startling bold move.”

Tech Radar is impressed with the mostly excellent picture quality of the monitor, its “ground-breaking” price, its effective ambilight configuration and its good audio. The site is however less bowled-over by the Philip’s 4K’s meticulous set-up requirements, its over-ambitious processing, its limited viewing angle and limited online content.

So is the 4K TV from Philips about to start a price war in 4K TVs?

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Retailing at £549, the Philip’s 40-inch 4K monitor is a whopping £500 cheaper than the Sony KDL – 65X9005A and Samsung UE65F9000 – And having an extra 500 quid in your bin has to be worth something!

Video: Sony’s AX100 4K Camcorder & AS100VR Action Cam

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Among the products announced at Sony’s gaff-free (no movie directors here!) CES press event, a couple of new cameras caught our eye. First up was Sony’s latest 4K Camcorder, the AX100, which is now a far more ‘consumer friendly’ looking device compared to the company’s previous efforts. Producing a lighter and smaller camera is obviously key for Sony as they look to encourage us all to start producing and consuming more 4K content. The FDR-AX100, to give it its full name, is approximately one quarter the size and one third of the weight of the current FDR-AX1 model.

The AX100 comes with a 14.2 effective megapixel back-illuminated 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS sensor and, in addition to recording 4K footage, the camera is also capable of down-converting 4K images to very high quality 2K (Full HD) video. In terms of size, the AX100 is 196.5mm long, 83.5mm high and 81mm wide, weighing in at approx 790g. The camera is available for around £1,800 and more details can be found on the company’s UK web site. Also be sure to check out our video of the AX100 below:

The other new (or should that be significantly improved) camera that we checked out was the company’s latest action camera, the HDR-AS100VR Action Cam. This new model comes with a new image processing engine, new lens and a new image sensor for significantly improved image quality. The AS100VR is being marketed as “splash-proof” which means there’s no need for separate housing.

One interesting new feature is the ability to control up to five cameras with the Live-View Remote and record simultaneously with them all for a multi-view picture. Another, perhaps more quirky, feature of this camera (as well as its predecessor) is the ability to mount it to your dog’s back. Check out our quick hands on, and demonstration of the dog harness, in the video below:

Sony STR-DN1040 and STR-DN840: Wireless 7.2 Audio and 4K Upscaling

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Wireless AV receivers can be a bit of a mixed bag, especially when it comes to video. High definition resolutions can struggle on typical home setups, particularly if a lot of other devices are using the wireless feed, but in recent times we’ve been impressed by the technology’s adaption to cope with modern standards. Sony should know a thing or two about this, and is looking to up its game following stiff competition from the likes of Denon, Yamaha and Pioneer with the 165W STR-DN1040 and slightly less powerful 150W STR-DN840, delivering 7.2 cinema-quality sound along with 4K movie upscaling sans cables.

A rather striking yet minimalist design sets these apart from cheaper models immediately, and both are packed with connectivity that includes inputs for Blu-ray and DVD players, set top boxes, games consoles and an SA-CD player with USB to instantly connect and play back from MP3 players or flash drives. You can stream audio or HD video straight from a smartphone or tablet, and the optional SideView app means input source and volume adjustment can be done from a handheld.

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Sony is obviously putting a lot of emphasis on the audio quality here. Both receivers use 192kHz/24-bit audio that’ll do justice to lossless formats such as FLAC and high-bitrate compressed formats, and according to Sony can “recreate the authentic acoustics of Hollywood’s finest theatres”, with a concert mode that supposedly apes the acoustics of famous venues such as the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Musikverein Vienna. There’s a good degree of customisation here as well, with an advanced sound optimiser that can tailor frequencies for extra clarity and something called Advanced Digital Cinema Automatic Calibration (D.C.A.C.) that fine-tunes sound from each speaker to get the best from the layout of your living room.

Wireless capabilities include streaming music from cloud services like Music Unlimited, a range of internet radio stations via vTuner, Spotify and support for AirPlay to offer Mac users streaming support from the whole range of Apple’s devices.

Both models are scheduled for release this month, with no pricing available as yet.

Ultra-HD TVs: Why It’s Actually Good News For 3D

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In the tech world a general rule is: more is usually always better. And that’s certainly the case with Ultra-HD TVs which have 4 times as many pixels than current HDTVs – but before you considering spending a cool £25,000 on one (yes, the price of a medium saloon car) there’s a few things you should probably be aware of.

Before the term Ultra HD was decided upon, they were originally known as 4K, thanks in part to Sony, but the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), a group of industry experts, was setup in 2012 to inform and educate consumers on the new screen technology, and decide on a roadmap for the new tech.

When HDTVs first made their way into homes 5 years ago, there was a lot of confusing newfangled terms like HD, HD-Ready and High Definition being banded around. Basically, it took a couple of years to get a unified minimum standard that all manufacturers would need to adhere to for their TVs to be labeled as HD-Ready, much to the confusion of consumers.

The recent decision to rebrand 4K came about after the CEA conducted research into what term would be best to differentiate between current HD and 4K. The research found that the term “Ultra-HD” was the best performer in terms of helping consumers understand the technology compared to current 1080p HDTVs.

The CEA decided for a 4K screen to quality as Ultra HD it must have at least 8 million pixels at a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 in a 16:9 aspect. It would also need at least one digital input able to handle a full 3,840 x 2,160 resolution without relying solely upon up scaling.

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So why is Ultra HD So Important?
Well, there’s no denying that a TV with 4 times as many pixels is going to produce a mind-blowing picture compared to current TVs. But it’s actually 3D that going to see the biggest benefit from the extra pixels.

When viewing 3D content, the new resolution will to be able produce two 1080p pictures for each eye, which will make a significant difference to the illusion of 3D, eyestrain and the overall quality of the picture.

There are, of course, pros and cons for Ultra High Definition TVs, but it seems as if this new technology has already begun to overshadow 3D in recent months.

But before anyone should consider an Ultra HD TV there’s the small matter of content. There actually isn’t any content available to consumers yet. Another major stumbling block in future is distribution. Will Ultra HD films come on a new physical disc medium or will consumers download content? No one really knows. It’s thought that a new revision of Blu-Ray will finally be nailed down next year, but until then, no one really knows how content will be delivered.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Ultra HD TVs have no place at the moment. Most TVs today are 1080p, but spend comparatively little time actually outputting 1080p content.

This is mainly because our time is spent watching cable, satellite or basic streaming services like Netflix or LoveFilm. That’s all medium-high definition at resolutions of 1080i or 720p. Then your TV up scales that video to 1080p, and if they do it well, the results can be incredible.

For the first crop of Ultra HD TVs to succeed they need to be fantastic at up scaling and several manufacturers at CES seem to recognise this, and are touting their products’ video processing prowess as key factor to their early success.

The most important reason Ultra HD TVs will be more significant than 3D is because is it will have a greater potential to impact upon image quality. 3D isn’t out of the picture by any means, but it will take Ultra HD TVs for 3D to truly realise its potential.