At IFA 2019, Hisense was celebrating its 50th birthday by showcasing new TVs as well as various concepts, ranging from 4K and 8K dual-layer LCD TVs to 'Arc' and 21:9 displays.
Hisense 'Arc' and 21:9 displays
China's Hisense had some genuinely interesting TV concepts on display at IFA 2019 in Berlin but also TV technology that fell short of the hype.
Let us start with the TV concepts. Hisense exhibited its 'Movie Wall', a 21:9-format display with 5K resolution (5120x2160). You may recall that Philips sold 21:9 'CinemaScope' TVs back in the days. Samsung also had a brief flirt with the wider format that more closely aligns to the aspect ratios of Hollywood films. And LG is seemingly exploring the feasibility of 21:9 OLED TVs. Hisense told us that it remains a prototype for now. It was based on an LCD panel with zone dimming LED.
Next up a concept TV with rounded corners dubbed the 'Arc' TV - at least that is what it ended up as. On the first day of IFA, it was exhibited as the Eclipse, which is the same name as Bang & Olufsen's first OLED TV.
The rounded corners do not elevate the picture experience in any way but it looks very unique from a design point of view. Hisense has achieved the feat by using an LCD panel. Again, this is a concept prototype.
Hisense dual layer LCD TVs
Then there is Hisense's dual-layer LCD technology. While we were fairly impressed with the prototype that we saw at CES 2019 (same prototype was on display at IFA), the actual consumer product (U9E "ULED XD") is less impressive. Something appears to have changed on the path from prototype to product.
Hisense exhibited a 75-inch 8K "ULED XD" TV based on the dual-layer LCD technology. While certainly very colorful, it exhibited visible blooming and flicker as well as heavy vertical banding (visible in the photos below). The monochrome layer behind the LCD panel appears to be limited to 1080p resolution and the display was seemingly not capable of resolving 8K resolution, with jagged edges and visible pixel patterns as you move closer.
If you have been waiting for dual layer LCD technology to solve the limitations of LCD you should probably realign your expectations. Panasonic's 'MegaCon' prototype, based on the same technology, is in a different league than Hisense's product in terms of picture quality but it has other issues.
Hisense has some genuinely interesting stuff but it is hard to find a unifying theme. It would seem that the company continues to just throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Every year, they bring new concepts - even products - that fail to reach the consumer market.