How Sharp Plans to Make 4K Redundant


“For next year’s flagship model, [we’ll] offer a 4K-like television in a 1080p product, but at a price point that’s in our flagship series for retail,” Kerry Hodel, Sharp’s national field training manager, told Mashable. “That’s the idea behind what we can do with this technology.”

The secret is (shocker) proprietary Sharp technology called Quattron. The label designates TVs in Sharp’s line that have four subpixels instead of the usual three. With a yellow subpixel in addition to the typical red, green and blue ones,

Quattron TVs are capable of producing “billions” more levels of color than competitors, Sharp claims.

Quattron TVs are capable of producing “billions” more levels of color than competitors, Sharp claims.

They can also do a decent job of simulating 4K video, apparently. Sharp showed a closed-door demo of the technology at CES in January, putting a 1080p Quattron TV next to a 4K set playing native 4K content (which was down-rezzed to 1080p for the Quattron). By intelligently managing the subpixels in the Quattron screen, Sharp claims a picture that’s as good as if not better than 4K.

In addition to the subpixel kung-fu, the Quattron set needs to be able to adjust the screen’s aperture ratio — the amount of light blocked by other electronics. That’s the trick current Quattron models can’t do. But be patient: Sharp plans to have those sets ready for the market sometime in 2014.

“What we’re doing is managing each individual dot (subpixel), treating it like a pixel,” Hodel said. “The next level is managing the aperture more closely. The circuitry we’re doing now can’t control the aperture on each individual dot. With software, we can dial in more closely to controlling each individual dot more precisely.”
You’ve probably heard of 4K — the next frontier in video formats following 1080p. The 4K format (also known as Ultra HD or UHD) doubles the pixel count in both directions, which can lead to a much sharper picture on larger sets.

It also leads to a host of issues such as incompatible formats, connectors that choke on the data, and how users will actually get the videos with native 4K resolution. And that’s before you even consider the cost of this next generation of TVs, which have price tags as high as $40,000 (although smaller 4K screens are significantly lower).

Sharp thinks there’s an easier way to a better TV. Instead of upgrading to 4K, the company says it can produce a comparable picture from a 1080p set at a fraction of the cost.

By that time, more 4K sets will be on the market — right now, there are only a few — and prices will head south. Still, Sharp estimates it will sell its 4K-simulating Quattron sets in the $5,000-$6,000 range (for an 80-inch set), a price tag that will look mighty attractive next to one that boasts a number about equivalent to a Prius.

Of course, it’s only worthwhile if the Quattron picture really is as good as 4K, and we’ve yet to see it in person for ourselves. Plus, although 4K has many technical and market challenges, it’s an inherently higher-resolution technology, meaning it gives manufacturers more to work with for future upgrades that could make the souped-up Quattron tech obsolete.

We’ll see how the high-res picture shakes out over the next year or so, but if Sharp can deliver on its promises, those looking for the best picture a TV can deliver just might have a shortcut.

Do you think Sharp’s Quattron technology will make 4K redundant? Let us know in the comments.

Images by Mashable, Emil Lendof


Pin It

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *