It's fall, and while most of the year's TVs and and home video products have hit the market already, a few more are due to trickle out as the leaves change color, the sports change to football and basketball, and the TV shows premiere and get cancelled.
Our list of cool new video products isn't long, but does include some very important potential contenders for your holiday tech budget--including one from a certain fruit-monikered technology company in California.
The outlook: On September 9 Apple will hold a press event where it's widely expected to introduce its latest iPhones and iPads. Also on the docket, according to rumor, is an updated version of the Apple TV set-top box. The old one (pictured here) has been around since 2012 and was recently discounted to $69. The new one is expected to include a full app store, a redesigned remote with a touchpad, and beefed-up processing and storage to handle all those new apps and maybe even games. No matter what, it'll have to be pretty good to unseat Roku.
The outlook: Don't look now, but this might be the best TV ever produced. LG's latest OLED model is flat, not curved like the one I called "the best-performing television I've ever tested" in my full review from June. All things equal we prefer a flat screen, and it doesn't hurt that the new version also offers full support for HDR, widely seen as the next generation in high-end home video after 4K. Otherwise the EF9500 should deliver the world-beating performance of OLED to go along with its crazy-high price.
The outlook: LG's global headquarters recently announced another new TV, the EG9100, that looks like it may drop the price of OLED even further. Unlike other 2015 models it only has 1080p resolution, but if it's anything like the 2014 55EC9300 (pictured), that shouldn't matter one bit. It offers a 55-inch, curved screen and an even thinner chassis than previous versions, but the real story is that it may cost even less than the $2500 LG is charging for its cheapest OLED now. $1999 seems about right. We don't have official word yet from LG's US division, but were told to expect more details "later this year."
The outlook: You may not have heard of Hisense or its ULED technology, but on paper this TV claims the same kind of picture quality as the best sets from guys like Samsung and Sony, for less money. Of course it's still not cheap by any means, so we're looking forward to verifying those claims ourselves when we get the chance to review one.
The outlook: When the "R series" was first introduced at CES 2014, Vizio claimed to have produced "The best TV in the world." The 120-inch monster (also shown in a 65-inch size) stole the show with its sheer size and insane specs. It offered 4K resolution, a wide color gamut, a true 10-bit panel for finer color gradations, a full-array local dimming backlight with 384 zones and 800-nit peak light output, and compatibility with Dolby's own HDR processing for more realistic contrast.
But 2014 came and went, and we heard nothing official until earlier this year, when Vizio said it would ship the R series sometime before the end of 2015--and posted a $4000 price for the 65-inch version on its web site (which it later said was mistake). We'll see.
The outlook: With an image bigger than any TV and brighter than any home theater projector we've seen, the 1440 is being called a "flat panel killer" by Epson. That's because its 4,400 lumen light output is bright enough to conceivably watch in a relatively well-lit room. No, it's still not as bright as a TV, but the price is about the same as a 70-inch Vizio M series. Epson also sells the 3,000 lumen 1040 for $799.