Sharp Aims at Consumer Sweet Spot Partway to Ultra HD

Quattron+ to split the difference between HD and UHD formats

Sharp Electronics today announced a new line of flatscreens that it hopes will provide consumers an affordable steppingstone to the new Ultra-HD format.

Sharp’s “Quattron+” TVs will have twice the pixels of todays’s full-HDTV sets, but half that of true Ultra-HD; that is, 4 megapixels instead of 2 megapixels. (True UHD is 8 megapixels.) The company was able to tinker with the electronics of HD flatscreens to split each pixel in two.

Since no one is creating content for 4-megapixel screens, Quattron+ TVs will have a built-in upscaler to let HD content play with the enhanced resolution. The sets are also to be capable of receiving a UHD TV signal, which would then be downscaled.

Sharp is hoping to find a sweet spot for TV sales between the elite performance and high prices of UHD and the commoditized HD TVs now for sale.

“This is a higher-resolution product at more reasonable price,”  said Tony Favia, senior product manager, large-screen TVs, Sharp. Favia added that the Quattron+ is the first HDTV that can receive a UHD signal, so it’s “future proofed” for consumers.

Sharp isn’t quite in the first rank of TV makers anymore, as Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung have pulled ahead. But the company has been charting its own path, emphasizing improved color using its 4-primary (red, green, blue, yellow) Quattron system while other makers have pushed 3D and UHD.

“We’ve noticed since we introduced Quattron in 2009, it makes an immediate difference when you have a difference in brightness and vividness of color. That is something that catches the consumer’s eye immediately,” said Favia. Sharp expects to continue to use the 4-primary Quattron system as it moves into 4K UHD sets as well.

Sharp is also working with Dolby at CES to demonstrate the high dynamic range Dolby Vision format, which would offer 100 times the peak brightness of today’s TV standards and would display far more colors as a result.

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