You Asked: more reader questions answered

You’ve got more questions, I’ve got more answers. This is the second installment in a series that lets me answer some of the burning questions we get from the Digital Trends community. You all come up with great questions and we love them — keep them coming!

Overseas TVs

Our first question today comes from @dragosmoldovan990 who wrote: I’m in Europe, and the AV landscape is kinda different here. Any chance for you to get a look at Philips OLED TVs, for instance? I know they are not available in the States but we simply have no good information sources here.

I wanted to answer this question because I know that Philips TVs and Panasonic TVs in particular are of high interest because they tend to be high performers, and I know a lot of folks would like to see how I would rank them against all the TVs we do review. Unfortunately, as many of you know, Panasonic and Philips TVs — at least the premium Philips TVs available in the U.K. and Europe — are not available in the U.S. There was a time when I was asking the U.K. PR teams if they might consider sending those TVs for me. But as you can imagine, that’s of significant expense to them, and they can see that the majority of our audience is in the U.S., so it’s hard for them to justify that expense. Likewise, it would be impossible for me to justify the expense of importing those TVs so I could review them here. The cost would be too substantial.

And that goes for TVs in other markets, too, like Australia and India, where I know a lot of you live. Now, if we could arrange for me to travel to those places for a week and I did reviews in those regions … hmm, that might be something! But, that would have to be a viewer or brand-sponsored thing, cuz I don’t think I can convince Digital Trends to do it.

I will say, though, that I’m thinking of going back to IFA in Berlin because I miss checking out the AV scene in at least part of Europe because I know it is a bit different there, and I like it!

Same model, different specs

Next up is another international/regional question and, folks, I get this one all the time. @joshuamansill9394 wrote: You’ve talked about doing a video before on this, but why do Hisense and TCL release very different TVs with the same/very similar model number in the U.S. vs. Europe vs. Oceania?

You’re right, I have talked about doing a video on this, and I’m still planning on doing it. I’m using your question as an opportunity to ask folks to be a little patient with me. As you may have seen, we’re in the middle of moving to a new studio, so I have had to put some investigating on hold. I will give you a little bit of a nugget: The Hisense U8 and U7 series TVs that we get in the U.S. are so good because reviewers like me have been on Hisense about improving this, tweaking that, and the powers that be — among them, Hisense USA president David Gold — pressed to get those improvements for U.S. models, betting that getting good reviews would help sell the TVs. And that bet paid off. The story is similar for TCL, which got amazing traction on the early 6-series TVs among reviewers and they leaned into that hard and got sales success from it, so they leaned in even harder.

Now, I can understand if the numbers show that those moves seem to work for the U.S. market, but don’t necessarily provide a return on investment in other regions — I don’t know that is the case, but I throw that theory out there because, while I could understand that, I do not understand why you would use the same model number in different regions but not offer the same performance for that model number. That part is the bit I have not gotten to the bottom of yet, and I’m just a couple of phone calls away from getting the answers I need. So stay tuned, I will cover that this year. Probably in October, honestly. Hold me to it!

AMD Zen 4, where are you?

This next one is not for me, but I’m going to get the answer.
@lordtardar4639 asked: Just WHAT is going on with AMD in the laptop sector and why aren’t we seeing any Zen 4-based laptops (not to be confused with Zen 3 and Zen 3+ processers that were just rebranded to 7XXX series) halfway through the year except in just a handful of mainly gaming laptops?

I do not know, but I know someone who does! So I asked senior staff writer Jacob Roach, who you have seen plenty of times on the channel and his first response was, “Oh, this is a whole thing.”

Lisa Su showing Zen 4 CPU.

Roach elaborated, “If you’re unfamiliar, AMD completely changed its naming scheme for its mobile processors with Ryzen 7000. Now, the architecture it uses is noted by the third number in the product. For example, a theoretical Ryzen 5 7510 would be using the Zen 1 architecture, despite the fact that it comes from the Ryzen 7000 series (which, for the record, is supposed to use Zen 4). That first number that most people associate with the generation of the processor now refers to the year it was released. It’s confusing, and even more confusing when you consider this only applies to mobile processors.

“To answer your question more directly, it’s hard to say exactly why we haven’t seen more Zen 4 processors in non-gaming laptops. There are a few like the Acer Swift Edge 16 and Asus Zenbook S 13, both with the Ryzen 7 7840U, but most non-gaming laptops are stuck on Zen 3. I suspect this just comes down to market share and positioning. AMD is focusing its most powerful, newest hotness on the area where it has more dominance — gaming laptops. Intel still holds the vast majority of the laptop market outside of gaming, and the laptop market overall, so we may not see a ton of Zen 4 chips outside of gaming laptops. Definitely keep an eye out for the rest of the year, though. Now that all the flagship chips are out, AMD has been slowly working its way down to the more power-efficient chips in its lineup.”

Wow. Glad I asked Jacob about that one. Thanks, Jake for coming through.

TV calibration

OK, two more questions, both on the same topic. @fandibus asks: Do you do professional calibrations? I’m in Oregon and would like my TV calibrated.

The short answer is no, I do not do professional calibrations, I’m sorry. I wish I could help you out. The reasons I don’t do professional calibrations deserve a deeper explanation. But the reason I don’t do professional calibrations boils down to time and money. I’m slammed all week long, and on the weekends, I’m completely booked with gigs — I’m also a professional trumpet player, for those who didn’t know. But in addition to the lack of time, there’s a significant cost involved with the equipment needed for a professional calibration and while Digital Trends owns the equipment I need to do my job as a reviewer, I do not own the equipment needed for me to do my own calibration business.

This question leads us nicely to the next one which comes from, well, a whole of people. Can you recommend a TV calibrator in my area?

I do not personally have a database of professional calibrators across the U.S. – but I’m thinking of creating one, honestly. What I suggest you do is go to the Imaging Science Foundation website and click on the Dealers tab. There you can put in your city and state and find “dealers” in your area that probably offer calibration services. Honestly, I wish there was a slightly more refined way of finding ISF-certified calibrators across the U.S., and maybe I’ll work with the ISF to retool their site to make it a little easier. But that’s where I would start. You can also try going to the AVS forum and posting a request for help finding a calibrator in your area.

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