Hisense throws LCD curveball with double layer breakthrough

For all its shortcomings, CES never disappoints when it comes to TV screens. A substantial advancement we were unable to squeeze into last week’s issue, no thanks to the show’s AI frenzy, came not from Sony or Samsung, but instead from Hisense – showcasing a new double-layered LCD panel technique which has been largely received as an engineering masterclass.

Hisense unveiled the ULED XD, overcoming a problem called backlight bleed which is apparently quite common in LED TV sets. The Chinese electronics firm achieved this with an unconventional breakthrough in a secondary layer panel, essentially filtering brightness from the secondary panel (grayscale 1080p), halting any backlight bleed from reaching the primary layer, a 4K UHD LCD panel.

The result – 2,900 nits of brightness with quantum dot color technology and a product potentially positioned to undercut sister TV sets in the OLED market. Some sources, however, are skeptical that the manufacturing and bill of materials might not produce the vastly cheaper alternative to OLED TV sets that the ULED XD is being hyped up as. The ULED XD (XD stands for extreme detail) will be exclusive to China initially, with pricing yet to be revealed.

“It layers a 1080p module displaying a grayscale image between a full array LED backlight and a 4K module displaying a full color image,” writes the official product description.

Often criticized as a low-end TV manufacturer, Hisense has thrown the OLED community a curveball with this latest development in LCD display panel technology. You may recall Sharp actually attempted to sue Hisense for putting its branding on products of low quality about a year and a half ago, before Hisense completed the takeover of the Japanese company’s North American assets earlier this month. This will give Hisense a well-needed boost in a market where its popularity has long lagged behind the major TV makers, reportedly less popular even than TCL.

In terms of density, microLED flat panel technology is still head and shoulders above ULED XD and OLED panels, although these TV sets won’t hit the commercial market until early 2020 and will set you back an arm and a leg.

Consumer technology news sites have also expressed interest in the potential for Hisense to offer a faster alternative for PC monitor integration compared to OLED screens, which are notoriously slow for PC use despite the hefty price tag.

Hisense was a busy bee in Las Vegas last week. Other new products being showcased include 4K laser TV projection, Roku and Android TV smart TVs with voice control and quantum dot technology, and also a claim to the world’s thinnest 65-inch TV set – boasting under a quarter of an inch thick at the thinnest point and 1 inch at the thickest.