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At Sharp’s pre-CES press conference, held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on the morning of January 6, Sharp announced a television technology that John Harrington, president of the Sharp Marketing Company of America, called a “game changer.”

Unlike many of the products announced at CES, Quattron+ is a solution to a problem that actually exists. It enables an almost-4K viewing experience at prices that are roughly half those charged for true 4K TVs, according to Jim Sandusky, Sharp’s senior VP for U.S. product marketing. Sharp is calling the technique by which Quattron+ does this “Revelation Technology.”

Although no serious attempt was made at the press conference to explain how Revelation Technology allows an FHD Quattron screen to produce a near-4K image, Sharp’s Yoshida Yasuhiro and colleagues explained the underlying technology in detail at the LatinDisplay/IDRC 2010 conference held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where their presentation won the Best Paper Award sponsored by the Brazilian Association for Informatics (ABINFO). Briefly, because a Quattron pixel contains four colored sub-pixels (red, green, blue, and yellow) it can produce any color by mixing the sub-pixel colors in two or more ways. This redundancy can be used to produce two luminance peaks per pixel instead of one, as is the case with typical LCDs for television, which use only three sub-pixels (red, green, and blue) per pixel.

Sharp's Quattron+ TV delivers a nearly 4Kx2K image from a 2Kx1K Quattron panel.  The result what is essentially an Ultra HD at half the price of premium 4K TV sets.  (Photo:  Ken Werner)

Sharp’s Quattron+ TV delivers a nearly 4Kx2K image from a 2Kx1K Quattron panel. The result is essentially an Ultra HD experience at half of a premium 4K-TV’s price. (Photo: Ken Werner)

The traditional Quattron pixel structure is a sequence of red, green, blue, and yellow vertical stripes. Last year at CES, Sharp showed a panel with this structure that produced two peaks per pixel in the horizontal direction, which allowed a 1920×1080-pixel panel to produce an effective resolution of 3840×1080 pixels. The image was considerably sharper than that on an adjacent, conventional FHD panel, but the demonstration was tucked away in the booth. If you weren’t looking for it, you probably wouldn’t have seen it or understood what you were seeing.

This year, it’s a different story, both from the technical and marketing perspectives. In addition to generating the two luminance peaks per pixel horizontally, the Revelation Technology splits each R,G,B, and Y sub-pixel vertically and addresses them such that the image is now essentially 3840×2160 pixels, or 4K. Quattron+ TV sets were prominently featured in Sharp’s booth on the CES show floor, and will be availailable later this year as part of the company’s 2014 line-up. Let’s be clear. These sets look very, very good, and it would take educated eyes to tell the difference between Quattron+ and true 4K, especially at typical living-room viewing distances.

Can Sharp do more with Quattron+ ? They can. Sources tell me that at CES 2015 we should look for 4K panels that use Revelation Technology to deliver 8Kx4K images.

Ken Werner is Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, specializing in the display industry, manufacturing, technology, and applications. You can reach him at kwerner@nutmegconsultants.com.

Posted by Ken Werner, January 11, 2014 6:25 PM

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About Ken Werner

Kenneth I. Werner is the founder and Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, which specializes in the display industry, display technology, display manufacturing, and display applications. He serves as Marketing Consultant for Tannas Electronic Displays (Orange, California) and Senior Analyst for Insight Media. He is a founding co-editor of and regular contributor to Display Daily, and is a regular contributor to HDTVexpert.com and HDTV Magazine. He was the Editor of Information Display Magazine from 1987 to 2005.