Back at CES 2013, these new "ultra high-definition" TV sets called 4K TVs were priced at a whopping $20,000 apiece. For a TV set. You can take a wild guess why all your friends are not running out and buying these new high-tech TV sets with incredibly vivid and lifelike displays, but no actual 4K content to watch on them.
Fast forward just seven months later, and the price is coming down to something a little more manageable. About $19,000 more manageable, in fact -- because someone just broke the under-$1,000 barrier for a massive and beautiful 4K smart TV.
Chinese television manufacturer TCL just announced a 50-inch 4K TV for under $1,000. According to a company announcement released Wednesday, the TCL 7E51040 (say that ten times fast!) will be available in September of this year.
Sure, it's priced at $999 on the nose and then you're looking at sales tax on top of that. But the sticker price on this baby is under $1,000 for a brand new 4K TV set, and that is watershed moment for consumer adoption of 4K TV sets.
If you need a little refresher on 4K TV, it's the supposed next big thing in the television industry whose screen offers extravagantly lifelike resolution that is ten times the resolution of an HDTV. It is also the television manufacturing industry's unwilling admission that freaking no one wants a 3D TV, so they're pretty much giving up on 3D and going after much larger screens with much higher resolution.
So what's the catch? It is a matter of debate on the blogs whether the human eyeball can even discern the advantages of 4K at a screen size of 50 inches. They say the minimum screen size for noticing the advantages is 84 inches. No one outside the TCL company has even seen this TV, we've just heard about it in a press release. So no one has a clue whether this TCL 4K TV will offer any real advantage over your standard HDTV set.
But the (relatively) rock bottom $999 price is TCL's way of getting noticed in the U.S. market. Oh, they're huge in China -- in fact, they are the No. 1 television manufacturer in the Chinese market. But I honestly had never heard of them until I got a press release this morning.
"Our mission is to deliver high quality HDTVs with advanced technologies and premium design at an aggressive price to establish the TCL brand in the US,” Michelle Mao, president of TCL USA, said in that press release. “Similar to what the market saw a dozen years ago with the introduction of HDTVs, 4K UHD TVs are priced so high today that most consumers cannot afford them. As one of the world’s largest TV brands, TCL is able to change that."
It should be noted that there is one other under-$1,000 4K TV on the market, the Seiki 39-inch 4K TV. But that one is not a smart TV -- it's just bare-bones, and you can't run Netflix or Roku on it -- and it does not upscale native content to 4K. The TCL model claims that it will do both.