20170111 - CES Display Comments

Armchair personal opinions of CES 2017 display technology...

Native 240 Hz LCD panels at 1080p are hitting the market now, here is a FreeSync supporting panel review on TFT Central. Panel has the low-contrast almost 10-stop range typical of PC panels. The best contrast PC LCD high-frame-rate gaming panel that I know of, the old Eizo Foris FG2421 gaming LCD, in comparison has 2-stops more. This panel does not support strobed refresh, only scan-and-hold. Strobed refresh on LCD's doesn't work that well anyway because the strobe only aligns correctly with pixel update across one horizontal scan-line. Lines above and below tend to show increasing amount of ghosting. The 240 Hz update due to scan-and-hold does not bring with it CRT levels of motion clearity, and won't improve over a CRT's 180 Hz peak input responsiveness. First there is additional input lag the CRT doesn't have, and even if the LCD didn't have the extra few ms of lag, the 1.4 or so ms/frame advantage of 240 Hz would get delayed by LCD pixel switch lag. So this isn't a CRT replacement, but is an interesting evolution of LCD panels.

TVs Tossing Away 3D
Actually this is bad for TVs. Loosing the ability to leverage 3D modes to get double frame-rate, 120Hz, 2D modes is unfortunate IMO. It enables the OEMs to forget about frame-rate and focus on pushing more resolution.

Swift PG27UQ
Press on HDR PC Displays is starting to show up, "LED backlight on the PG27UQ is dynamically controlled across 384 zones". Ouch, local dimming = horrible uniformity artifacts. I'm actually curious how traditional technical reviewers are going to handle the classic uniformity error charts for this new class of display. Old charts of black screen uniformity don't render meaningfull numbers. This display for example will likely have more stops of error in the darks on a real image than it has in native LCD panel contrast with dimming disabled. Personally I'd avoid these kinds of local dimming panels completely until the technology matures enough to per-pixel back-light control (aka Panasonic's new tech) to accurately display an image.

Sony A1 4K OLED
The burning question: Is this a Sony panel, or is it an LG panel like all the other OLED TVs? If it is a Sony panel, perhaps this could be the first OLED TV without the signature LG Black Crush problem.

LG ProBeam HF80J
A 1080p laser projector at 2000 lumens and only 4.6 pounds. Pricing according to youtube video below is going to be around $1500 us. Could be interesting if it accepts a wired connection and doesn't add bad input latency. On the watch list for March 2017 launch. If this is a true laser projector, than no DLP square pixel garbage, and instead a clean filtered image, which if projected too big, like vintage arcade CRTs will have visible scanlines (that's a feature IMO). If laser maybe this will be 60Hz limited (would be better if they supported up to 75Hz).

Panasonic Per Pixel Backlight Control
Anandtech article prior to CES. This could be the most important panel tech for 2017 as it could in theory remove the LCD Local Dimming uniformity artifacts.

Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K Monitor (UP3218K)
ExtremeTech provides the numbers, 7680x4320 pixels at 32" but only 60Hz. Certainly awesome for photo editing, as you'd be able to see clearly that your Canon 5DS R 8688x5792 images are effectively never in focus, and if they ever are, you'd see clearly that 50.6 MPix with a Bayer sensor is really closer to 4K effective. For gaming, likely interesting for crazy low-cost rendering top-down RTS, but for realistic 3D, good luck, 8K requires 16x the performance of 1080p.

Panasonic Plasma TV ZT60
Ok not at CES 2017, but rather released in 2013, and still the best high-contrast TV I've seen yet. HDGuru provides some numbers: 38454:1 contrast ratio on low APL scenes. In english it has over 5-stops more contrast than your typical PC panel, and none of the artifacts of HDR OLED or HDR LCD's with Local Dimming. The ZT60 shares a panel with the VT60 apparently, but the ZT60 has the better anti-reflective surface coating (which is important as black level is a function of ambient room brightness, which can be indirection reflection from the TV itself, and screen reflectivity). For display lag, these last generation Panasonic Plasmas are a lot better than the Pioneer Kuro, and share similar contrast ratios (took Panasonic a while after getting the tech from Pioneer to actually build a good panel).

I own one so speaking from first hand knowledge. It does have some down-sides. For instance it will make you hate BluRay and other compressed video. All those quantization artifacts from compression which was just perceptually visible on low contrast displays becomes an eye sore on the ZT60. The display also exhibits some visible posterization in motion which gets worse with compressed content. Plasma and OLED share the fact that the displays are really 1-bit per channel but at say 3000 Hz, so they temporally dither and that dither on already posterized, noise-free, compressed content is visible.

Anyway the ZT60 is a beast when fed high quality real-time graphics input, just need to run lower frequency temporal dither to not clash with the panel's native pixel dithering.