CE Week 2014 kicks off in New York today, and Sharp has brought its biggest and brightest guns to compete with the titans of the TV industry like Samsung, LG, and Sony. Sharp unveiled its 2015 Ultra HD (UHD) TV lineup this morning, the new UD27 series, along with a facelift for its Aquos HDTV lineup, and a surprising addition to the world of hi-res audio, the SD-WH1000U Wireless High Resolution Audio Player.
UD27 Sharp Aquos 4K Ultra HD
When they debut this September, Sharp’s latest UHD TVs will come in two decidedly ‘Sharp’ sizes, including a $3,000 60-inch model (LC-60UD27U), and a $4,500 70-inch model (LC-70UD27U). Lined with a 0.4-inch brushed aluminum bezel, the sleek new displays are packed with all of Sharp’s UHD goodies, along with the latest version of the company’s SmartCentral 3.0 Smart TV platform and mobile app.
Beneath the screen are a host of top-tier UHD features, including 4 HDMI 2.0 inputs, a native 120Hz refresh panel (with ‘480’ motion interpolation), and HEVC (H.265) decoding with Netflix compatibility. Other features include a host of Sharp’s top proprietary processing tricks such as Spectros color display, AquoDimming screen dimming for enhanced contrast, Revelation upscaler for HD content, as well as an anticipated THX 4K Certification once the displays hit the market.
Additional features include TV/Web split screen for multitasking, a 35-watt sound system with subwoofer, and even a Wallpaper mode to show off your display when it’s not in use.
660 Sharp AQUOS HD Series
Sharp won’t be doing much to its HD lineup for the fall (possibly because it has been focusing on its hybrid Q+ displays), but the company will be giving its 60-inch LC-60LE660U and 70-inch LC-70LE660U models a makeover. In September, the popular models will be brandishing .4-inch super slim bezels like their UHD cousins.
Apart from that, viewers will see essentially more of the same from the 660, including 120Hz panels, 3 HDMI inputs, SmartCentral apps, and dual-core processors. The 60-inch and 70-inch 660 TVs will be priced at $1,200 and $2,000 respectively.
SD-WH1000U Wireless High Resolution Audio Player
Perhaps most intriguing in Sharp’s new catalog is the company’s bid for a piece of the rising hi-res audio market with its new SD-WH1000U wireless player. Touted as the first of its kind, the player is designed to transmit uncompressed HD audio, up to 96kHz/24bit resolution, to speakers using WiSA wireless audio technology, which was formally introduced in early 2012. The player can transmit audio to WiSA-compliant wireless speakers, or to regular speakers via the $1,000 VR-WR100U wireless bridge (though that seems to defeat the purpose).
When connected to storage drives and computers on a network, the system is able to playback a host of file types, including FLAC, ALAC, WMA, MP3, and DSD files. It also plays SACDs, Blu-rays, and DVDs, and hosts hardwired inputs including 3 HDMI, 3 USB ports (1 Type B), an optical digital port, a Coaxial digital port, and an Ethernet input. Hardwired outputs include 2 HDMI ports with 4K upscaling and up to 7.1 audio, 2 analog ports – balanced and unbalanced – an optical digital port, a Coaxial digital port, and an RS232 port.
In addition to hi-res wireless audio transmission, the WH1000U is able to wirelessly transmit uncompressed 1080p resolution video to compatible devices using WiHD. Of course, compatible devices aren’t exactly ubiquitous, and at $5,000, the player is no light expense. Still, for audiophiles looking to build a wireless home theater system, it’s a cool step in the right direction. Like the rest of the gear, the WH1000U will be available this September.
Sharp’s new UD27 UHD TVs look impressive, as does its new WH1000U hi-res wireless device. But the company is still playing catch up to the larger figures in the UHD TV field. As Samsung and LG unleash their massive UHD arsenals in the Big Apple this week, one has to wonder if two new UHD TVs will garner Sharp the attention it has clearly worked for.