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What Is Imax Enhanced, and Should You Care?

What Is Imax Enhanced, and Should You Care?

The new Imax Enhanced format reclaims a huge chunk of that screen real estate. There’s still a little bit of black bar space—TVs usually have an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, which is slightly taller—but you’re getting about a 26 percent larger picture than traditional ultra widescreen movies.

Sometimes, when streaming services try to fix the letterboxing problem, they do so in ways that negatively affect the picture. For example, when Disney scaled up The Simpsons to fill the screen all the way to the sides, it ended up cropping out some details that were essential for certain jokes to land. With this new Imax Enhanced format, that space is being filled by parts of the picture that were there when the cameras first recorded the movie. You’re gaining data instead of losing it.

Do I Need to Upgrade My TV?

The thousand-dollar question any time we talk about new video formats is whether the TV you have can use it, or if you’ll have to upgrade. When it comes to the aspect ratio benefits above, there’s good news: You can play Imax Enhanced content on most TVs and enjoy the larger picture.

However, Imax Enhanced is more than just an aspect ratio. It also includes certifications and guidelines for HDR video, and Imax teamed up with DTS to add specifications for DTS audio. You can think of these as Imax’s alternatives to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Both are standards that are designed to get the best picture and audio quality out of your system. For that, you might need a new TV.

A number of TVs from companies like Sony, HiSense, and TCL already support Imax Enhanced, so you might have one already. Then there are sound systems to think of. You can have an Imax Enhanced–compatible TV but still use whatever soundbar you want, but to get the full benefits of the standard, you might need new audio hardware.

It’s possible that some hardware could get an update to support the Imax Enhanced specification. Many TVs or sound systems are technically capable of outputting the kind of color, brightness, or audio quality the standard requires, but shipped before it was introduced in 2018. There’s no guarantee your TV will ever get an update, but some devices have. On the other end, Disney+ is the only major streaming service to include Imax Enhanced movies and shows, but it’s not completely alone. There’s support in Sony’s Bravia Core, Rakuten TV, and a few other platforms.

Ultimately, not having Imax Enhanced support doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any of these movies. But it’s a way to get the closest thing to a proper Imax screening in the comfort of your own home. Even if your screen isn’t as monstrous as what you find in theaters, you can still reclaim a lot of your TV’s real estate and get a picture that’s similar to what you saw the first time you watched a film in Imax.


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More Great WIRED Stories

The 10 Best TVs We’ve Tested (and Helpful Buying Tips)

The 10 Best TVs We’ve Tested (and Helpful Buying Tips)

Saving up for a new screen? To help you navigate the dozens of seemingly identical TV models from Samsung, LG, Vizio, TCL, Sony, and other manufacturers, we’ve watched hundreds of hours of content on them and picked a few of our favorites. We’ve listed everything from the best budget TV to the absolute best set you can buy—and a few excellent choices in between.

Unless labeled otherwise, every TV we link to is 55 inches. There are often larger and smaller sizes available on the retailer’s site, but this is a very good size for most living rooms. All of these models have a 4K Ultra HD pixel resolution (and some have 8K), because there aren’t a lot of good reasons to buy a standard HDTV anymore.

We also believe you should invest in a good soundbar and TV streaming stick. TVs now come with wonderful displays, but they’re terrible at sound and running apps. Be sure to check out our many other buying guides.

Updated October 2021: We’ve added the Samsung QN90A, Hisense U8G, LG C1 OLED, and Sony A90J. There have been mild price fluctuations due to the international chip shortage. We’ve updated the links and prices, but they may fluctuate more than usual.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

The Best Projectors (and 2 Great Screens)

The Best Projectors (and 2 Great Screens)

There’s nothing like watching your favorite films in a dark room on a massive screen. For that authentic movie theater experience at home, you’ll need a projector (and a popcorn maker).

You used to have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to get an excellent projected experience, but you can now get a massive, beautiful picture for less than the cost of a flagship TV. Projectors are also much more portable and easier to set up than they were before. And if you have space, there are excellent pocket-size and short-throw models that make lawn-side movie nights as easy as finding an extension cord and a level chair to set them on. Below are our favorite models, and a couple of screens to pair with them.

Working on a total home-theater overhaul? Be sure to check out our Best Soundbars and Best 4K Streaming Devices buying guides.

Updated September 2021: We’ve added the LG HU810PW and Kodak Luma 400, as well as a section with tips and tricks for newbies!

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

Vizio’s M-Series TV Is Affordable and Mantle-Worthy

Vizio’s M-Series TV Is Affordable and Mantle-Worthy

Even as suppliers struggle to keep up with demand, it’s a great time to buy a new TV. The mid-tier market is more competitive than ever. You can get a lot these days for well under $1,000, and prices keep plummeting while our eyes reap the rewards. 

The Vizio M-Series is among the best of a very closely matched bunch. It has quantum dots for brighter colors, local dimming for deeper blacks, a variable refresh rate for gaming, and a current price—at 55 inches—under $700. A TV that ticks all of those boxes is rarely this affordable. If you’re in the market for a new flatscreen, then that’s very good news for your wallet.

The Black Box

When you’re shopping in person, it can be tough to pick between good mid-range TVs because they all tend to look the same. Unfortunately, the M-Series is no different. Like various mid-priced models from TCL, Samsung, and LG, it’s about an inch and a half thick with relatively thin bezels. It comes with a rather generic-looking plastic remote that has a few hot keys for streaming services.

Vizio tv
Photograph: Vizio

You’ll want to wall-mount this one unless you have a big TV stand. It has legs out near the ends, rather than a center pedestal, which means you’ll need a stand that’s about as long as the TV itself. That’s not going to work in every living room. 

All of this is because Vizio’s entire business model is to take top-tier technology and put it into something affordable. That means compromises in aesthetics. So you’re not getting razor-thin looks here, but you do get Vizio’s excellent backlighting technology and iQ processing engine.

The company’s local dimming backlighting tech can turn off or dim based on the content that’s playing. In super dark scenes, some of the 32 zones of the backlighting are able to hit different brightnesses, so you get less gray and something closer to black.

Local dimming isn’t as good as with organic LED, or “OLED” technology, where each pixel is its own backlight, but it definitely still improves contrast quality. Vizio’s expertise with the tech is fully on display with this new M-Series. Watching darker shows like Stranger Things and The Mandolorian, I noticed that everything still manages to look crisp and clean, with just a touch of light bloom (where you get a halo around bright objects on dark backgrounds).

I should note that this model has HDMI 2.1 ports—an earlier 2021 M-Series model came with HDMI 2.0 ports, but that’s been remedied here. This upgraded port supports the eArc standard for easy soundbar setup that immediately integrates with the TV remote. And you should use a soundbar or a set of speakers, because the TV’s audio is pretty tinny, though it does sound better than thinner TVs.