Vizio is not including 3D support in any models of its 2014 lineup of televisions — a concrete sign the CE industry’s stereoscopic dreams are fading. Instead, Vizio is pinning future growth on Ultra HD, launching a new series of 4K-capable sets with support for Netflix’s content in the high-resolution format.
Vizio is showing off the Ultra HD P-series models, which will be marketed to mainstream TV buyers, at the 2014 International CES. It’s also launching the higher-end Reference Series, targeted at the home-theater market, available in screen sizes up to 120 inches. The company didn’t announce pricing or expected ship dates.
Four years ago, at the 2010 CES, 3D televisions and new programming ventures were in the spotlight as TV manufacturers’ next great hope. But 3D TVs never took hold, partly because of the lack of content in the format and also because consumers just weren’t that interested. Among other signs of the technology’s slow demise, ESPN last year shut down its 3D channel because of limited uptake.
At a presentation Sunday, Consumer Electronics Assn. chief economist Shawn DuBravac predicted about 500,000 Ultra HD televisions will be sold in the U.S. this year, up from 60,000 in 2013. He acknowledged that 3D TV has “become a lot less of a driver of set purchases” than the industry projected but added, “the deployment of 3D is there.”
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In a statement, Vizio said that while it will continue to have 3D TV products in the market, such as the 2013 M-series with screens of 50 inches and above, “we will evaluate the long-term strategy to reflect the needs of consumers.” For example, Vizio will continue to test glasses-free 3D TV technology, in collaboration with Dolby.
Vizio’s P-series Ultra HD LED Smart TVs (pictured above), to be available in 50-, 55-, 60-, 65-and 70-inch screen sizes, are outfitted with 802.11ac dual-band wireless radios for Internet connectivity. The Vizio Internet Apps let users control YouTube and Netflix playback from Android and Apple iOS smartphones or tablets when TVs and devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.
The Vizio P-series supports the HEVC H.265 codec, which is twice as efficient as the MPEG-4 H.264 specification for video compression, along with the Intel-developed HDCP 2.2 content-protection encryption technology. That will let the TVs stream Ultra HD from Netflix, which is using the HEVC compression to deliver “House of Cards” season 2 and other titles to compatible TVs and other devices.
The P-series sets also include the VM50, a dedicated motion and picture-processing chip, and the latest HDMI standard for display of Ultra HD content in up to 60 frames per second.