Looking for a TV with a picture as dynamic as its price tag? Then the new Vizio Reference Series 4K UHD sets might fit the bill. The 65-inch RS65-B2 is priced at $6,000, while the 120-inch RS120-B3 runs a staggering $130,000.
Befitting those premium prices, the new sets come loaded with Vizio's platinum features, including Dolby Vision HDR, quantum dots (in the smaller model) for an expanded gamut of colors, and full-array LED backlights that can help improve contrast and black levels. Both sets have 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Vizio's Internet Apps Plus smart TV platform for access to streaming services. The company says the TVs will support HEVC, a video compression scheme used by almost all the streaming services for 4K content, but it didn't say if they will have VP9, which YouTube uses to stream 4K content.
High dynamic range capability refers to a TV's ability to display a wider selection of shades between the blackest blacks and whitest whites in an image. Although some TVs from brands such as LG, Samsung, and Sony are HDR capable, they conform to a baseline HDR standard set by SMPTE.
These Vizio Reference Series sets are the first to incorporate Dolby Vision, which is a specific implementation of HDR technology. The content needs to be mastered in Dolby Vision, and then played back on a Dolby Vision-capable TV. We anticipate that these Vizio sets will also play back SMPTE-based HDR content.
Vizio says some Dolby Vision content, namely certain movies from Warner Bros., will be immediately available via the Vudu streaming service. (Get a list of upcoming titles at VUDU.com/UHD.) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment says it too will offer Dolby Vision titles in the coming months. And Netflix has vowed to support Dolby Vision in its original series "Marco Polo." We expect to hear more about how this effects 4K UHD Blu-ray players later this month. As far as we can tell, all the new UHD Blu-ray players will support the SMPTE HDR standard, but it will be up to each manufacturer to decide whether to support Dolby Vision as well.
According to Vizio, the smaller set has the quantum dots and a full-array LED backlight with 384 active zones that can be independently dimmed. By contrast, the 120-inch set will use phosphor-coated LEDs instead of quantum dots to achieve a wider range of colors. The 65-inch TV will have an integrated sound system supplemented by a 10-inch wireless subwoofer and two rear satellite speakers.
When we first saw a prototype of the 120-inch model, it had a giant, removable sound bar speaker, but that idea has apparently been scrapped in favor of no sound system, since customers of this TV are likely to already own one or to want a more powerful system than Vizio could offer in the TV.
At the moment, it appears that you have to order one of these sets at Vizio.com; the company will work with a custom installer to deliver and set up the TV in your home. It's not yet clear if you'll eventually be able to buy the 65-inch model from a local store or major online retailer.
Over the next few days, we'll be visiting with Vizio to get some hands-on time with the 120-inch RS120-B3. Check back later this week for first impressions. We're also hoping to get the 65-inch set into our TV labs for complete to see how it stacks up against the 150-plus models in our TV Ratings.
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