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Chinese TV giant Skyworth goes big into US market with OLED, 8K

The brand debuted high-end OLED and 8K LCD TVs in 65-, 75- and 77-inch sizes.

skyworth-oled-w81

The Skyworth W81 OLED TV is a superthin "wallpaper" model that includes a companion box with inputs, speakers and a pop-up display.

Skyworth
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

Don't look now, but TV shoppers in the US are about to get some new choices from China. While TCL and Hisense continue to grow their presence here, lesser-known brands like Konka and now Skyworth are making a splash at CES 2020. And they're using the latest TV technologies, including OLED and 8K resolution, to do it.

You've probably never heard of Skyworth, but it's big in China. With a 31-year history, the company was valued at over $19 billion last March and says it employs over 40,000 people worldwide. In the US it sells a few cheap TVs at places like Walmart, and its website lists a number of televisions, including OLED models, but its CES 2020 announcement is intended to be the brand's coming-out party. The two new feature-packed models highlight Skyworth's true ambitions to play alongside LG, Samsung and Sony for the high end of the US market.

What's a Skyworth worth?

First among the new Skyworth TVs is the W81, an OLED "wallpaper" television. Like LG's wallpaper OLED TVs, which debuted at CES 2017, the display is incredibly thin measuring "4.6mm at its slimmest point" and can be attached to a wall via a "powerful magnetic fixture and an invisible wall mount." A sliding 12-megapixel camera is located in the TV as well, presumably for video chats -- although its presence could well spook potential buyers concerned about privacy, which is one reason very few modern TVs include cameras anymore.

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A close-up of that speaker module with the 21-inch pop-up display.

Skyworth

Also unique to the W81: a 21-inch secondary display that pops up from the main processing and power bar, which also houses HDMI and other inputs. Skyworth says the display is powered by its proprietary Swaiot OS interface and designed to work "together with the main screen to show the time, date, weather, IoT [internet of things] device updates, memos and other information." 

The W81 series will be available in a 65-inch standard edition as well as 65-inch and 77-inch "Pro" variants. The secondary screen is only available on the "Pro" versions of the TV, which also includes upward-facing speakers that can utilize the built-in Dolby Atmos

Skyworth is producing the OLED modules using LG Display's panels. While other companies sell OLED display, most have some connection to LG Display's work in the field. Skyworth says it's manufacturing the panels for its 65- and 77-inch TVs itself, allowing it to control the whole process from design to manufacturing. 

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The Skyworth Q91 is a 75-inch LCD TV with 8K resolution and an integrated soundbar.

Skyworth

Skyworth's second high-end offering is the Q91, the company's first TV with 8K resolution. Available in a single 75-inch size, a blue-and-bronze color scheme sets it apart. Like the W81, it features a pop-up camera built-in and an included Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar with upward-firing speakers.

Skyworth touts the image processing of the Q91, mentioning things like an AI Image Processing Engine and the ability to convert incoming video to 120 frames per second and 8K resolution. It also says the TV's blue-blocking technology filters out harmful wavelengths and has full-array local dimming across 576 LED dimming zones. 

Both the Q91 and W81 support HDR10 and Dolby Vision. 

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The Skyworth Q91 TV has a camera that pops up from the top of the screen.

Skyworth

The Q91 employs an IPS-based (in-plane switching) LCD panel. In CNET's tests, those kinds of panels generally deliver worse contrast than the vertical alignment panels used on the best-performing 75-inch LCD TVs. The Q91 does have full-array local dimming with 576 dimming zones, another important feature for improving LCD picture quality.

The 8K-packing 75-inch Q91 will sell for $5,999 while the 65-inch W81 and 65-inch W81 Pro OLEDs will retail for $3,599 and $4,599, respectively. Skyworth says both will ship in the US in June. 

Pricing for the 77-inch W81 Pro will be announced at "a later date." 

Originally published at 5:30 p.m. PST on Jan. 5. 
Update, 10:31 p.m. PST: Adds pricing details.