Nanocrystals, quantum dots and now, Spectros. Along with most major TV makers at CES 2015, Sharp has introduced new LED-LCD technology to seriously broaden the screen's color palette to that of the best movie house projectors. Instead of the nanocrsytals that enhance blues and reds on light after it leaves the TV's LED backlight, Sharp's Spectros changes the LEDs themselves to achieve a better spectrum - what's known as the DCI color space. The technology will be available in several of its new 4K model lines, including the UH30 line of 75- and 80-inch TVs. Sharp has sent the TVs to THX in the hopes of getting the lab's certification and seal of approval for their 4K quality.
A lot of smarts
Even if you can't (or don't want to) afford these models - starting at $3200 - you can get the same everything-imaginable SmartCentral 4.0 smart TV interface, with Android TV, in some cheaper models, too.
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Like many other TV makers here at CES, Sharp says it's trying to streamline its smart TV interface. It's succeeded in some respects; but Sharp has also added so many new features, including bolting on Android TV, that the results is something rather complex. It has four main sections: Channels, Devices, Setup and Discovery. In a nod to how people are watching TV today, Channels, refers to both cable channels and online streaming sites. This unification is an upgrade from last year.
Discover includes search and recommendations. You can search for a show or movie; and SmartCentral 4.0 looks for it on your cable channels as well streaming services - but just a few: Cinema Now, Vudu, Hulu and YouTube. A Sharp rep told me that they are working on Netflix, but he had a sad sound to his voice, as if it's been a hard process for some reason. (Roku boxes and Roku TVs, in comparison, search about a dozen streaming sites, including Netflix and most other biggies; but Roku TV doesn't search broadcast TV listings).
One very cool feature is Multiview, the ability to watch up to four video streams on the TV at once. On a 4K TV, there are enough pixels to show a 1080p and three 720p videos at once. These streams could come four different devices, like smartphones, or from a tablet running Sharp's companion app for tablets, which lets you choose four streams at once. On the flip side, you can also take the same video to different Sharp TVs.
Plus Android TV
SmartCentral 4.0, in fact, has a fifth element - full-on Google Android TV. This requires you to jump into a whole new interface to manage apps - streaming services like Netflix as well as Android games. Google sets the look for Android TV, which doesn't match the look of Sharp's OS.
So while the Android TV capabilities, such as a very effective voice search, are cool, the overall experience harkens back to the bad old days of "smart" TVs when you had to jump through a bunch of different screens that didn't fit together intuitively.
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