2013 is quickly turning out to be the “year of 4K.” The ultra-high-resolution displays started the year priced in the tens of thousands of dollars but a series of developments have quickly redefined the market at a drastically lower price point. Now, Chinese electronics firm TCL is set to lower the 4K cost of entry again with the release of a 50-inch 4K TV for only $999.
4K (or “Ultra HD”) TVs and displays feature four times as many pixels as a 1080p display, with a resolution of 3840-by-2160. When fed the correct content, or when paired with a quality 1080p upscaler, 4K TVs have the ability to produce noticeably sharper images, especially at close viewing distances.
The pixel density of the panels, combined with a relative lack of demand compared to lower-resolution displays, kept prices very high on 4K displays prior to this year. Samsung’s 85-inch model, for example, hit the market at the low price of $40,000.
In April, Seiki shattered the cost expectations for 4K by releasing a 50-inch 4K TV at only $1,500, a price that subsequently fell to between $1,100 and $1,200. The company then followed up with the launch this month of a 39-inch model for $699.
Seiki achieved these prices by offering a stripped-down, no frills display. Although there were some concerns about quality, including backlight uniformity and color gamut, the low cost Seiki TVs were simply the cheapest way to get acceptable 4K capabilities for both home theater and computing uses.
TCL appears to be following the same formula. The company’s 50-inch 4K model, set for release in September, will feature four HDMI inputs, MHL support, and a 120Hz refresh rate for 1080p inputs (as with the Seiki, current input limitations will likely keep 4K refresh rates stuck at 30Hz). Although TCL also mentions a built-in upscaler, it’s likely that purchasers will want to pick up a quality external upscaler based on experiences with the cheap upscaler in the Seiki models.
More information on the TCL 4K TV will be available on the company’s website as the launch date approaches. No specific retail outlets were mentioned, but it’s likely you’ll be able to find the TV at TCL’s usual retail partners, such as Best Buy and Walmart.