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4K TVs Just Got Affordable: New 50-Inch UHD Set from Seiki Can Be Had for $1,200

04.20.13 @ 6:41PM Tags : , , ,

The biggest complaint about Ultra High Definition televisions is that their prices are still astronomical. Right now, if you want to watch 4K content, you don’t have too many choices in your home that won’t have you selling your car or refinancing your home. Things are certainly getting interesting though, especially as Sony just announced some $5,000 4K TVs, and a company from China, Seiki, is shipping a $1,500 4K TV (which has been on sale for as low as $1,200-$1,300). Is it any good though? Read on for some first impressions.

Jarred Land over on REDUser mentioned this after RED ordered quite a few of them:

We got a truck load of these delivered to the studio today. Panels look better than you would expect for $1200 but they are no where near the big dogs.. mostly in terms of bit depth, color accuracy and controls ( as expected )

Obviously first thing we did was hook it up to REDRAY and it looked pretty good. Gradients from light to dark and fades you really notice the lack of bits that the panel can process.. looks like it handles about 6 bits and doesn’t dither very well if at all. Color gradient charts that are preloaded on REDRAY seem to reveal a bit of non-linearity per color in the display.

You need to turn sharpening to zero and color is a single slider that you need to find out the sweet spot. Also noise reduction off.

I also hooked it up to some video cards.. The GTX 680 works great, the GTX 690 doesn’t yet ( no HDMI port and i couldnt find the adapter to see if it works)

I think this is where this screen was meant to live.. its a great large computer monitor with a ton of real estate and the size isn’t too obnoxious. Just make sure you have a nice small 27″ or 30″ monitor on the side for color accuracy.

And later added:

Single HDMI was what i tested.. and it was nowhere near 60Hz. It seemed to like 8 bit RGB, Feeding it 12 bit YCC from REDRAY made the monitor freak out.

we will bring it into the lab and see how far we can push this. You guys with REDRAY players have a bunch of test charts that will help calibrating your sets.. as its always good to calibrate to the source.

The important thing here is that this display is one of those “switches” that has been flicked. The lights are on.. 4K is here.. The consumers are waking up.

There is no question that this is a barebones set with minimal extras. If you’re looking for a 4K TV to actually see 4K content on one monitor (probably something you or someone else has shot), this is the cheapest option right now. Of course at 50″ you will probably need to be a little closer to the set, but I see this being used more around an edit suite rather than as a standard television, especially since you’re going to be relying on your player or device to do proper upscaling since this TV only offers the basic options internally for getting 1080p content looking nice at 4K.

I could also see this being used on-set as a video village monitor or as a monitor for the AC when you’re working in a wireless capacity and focus is very thin. This thing would be great for playback of 4K material while you’re shooting to double-check focus, and would be especially helpful at a DIT cart if the camera is not outputting 4K directly (like RED).

Tonaci Tran on REDUser also got his hands on one:

I was able to set up two configurations to test this out. 

MacBook Pro ->HDMI 1080p -> Seiki
PC with Nvidia Card w HDMI that has 4k -> Seiki

1080p going into this monitor does not look good. There are no fancy upscaling abilities in this panel. I totally expected it to look bad. Hooking up a 1080p feed confirmed it. 
Feed it a 4k signal, now we are talking. =)

Tonaci mentions that this could be a great gaming monitor, so for those who are looking to take your PC games to the next level, you finally have an affordable monitor rather than piecing together a few PC monitors for 4K.

It’s clear that this set is not as good as some of the bigger brands, but if it were to compete with those TVs, you would surely be paying for it. We will be getting plenty more of these sets in the future, especially over the next few years as game systems get 4K capabilities, and we start to see the first 4K distribution networks.

If you’d like to buy your own, you can find it at Tiger Direct, but you should do a little surfing to see if it’s on sale at any other link. Seiki is offering a 1-year warranty on the TV, and if you really want to protect the investment, many resellers offer their own separate warranty options. You can also find a full spec sheet for the TV below.


[via REDUser]


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Description image 24 COMMENTS

  • Anthony Marino on 04.20.13 @ 7:56PM

    Very cool indeed. Good news for sure. But a long time question I could never quite put my finger on was answered in this article. Why don’t I have any love or even respect for the Red company? The cameras are wonderful, the users are brilliant. But when I read the “wet dream” reference it hit me. Yes they make some great equipment and even helped (big time) to democratized the film Industry. However the snarky, belligerent over confident tone from their head honcho leaves a lot to be desired. He sim

  • Erwin (Netherlands) on 04.20.13 @ 8:39PM

    Let’s give RED a break. Their equipment has class. Let’s respect that. Why focus on a language thing? ( wet dream reference) Seems unimportant to me.

    • Anthony Marino on 04.21.13 @ 11:07AM

      Haha, funny Erwin a piece of equipment can not have class in the sense of a style, taste or manor.

  • Well in other words this tv is only good enough for monitoring, home users won’t see a difference since it’s too small (50” !!!!!!), professionals won’t have the color accuracy. I just can’t stop thinking that these 4k tvs are gimmicks unless you are paying 10k for one and watch everything upscaled.
    I have a Red, but I also work in post production of big movies and in the end of the day for the final render image we set 2k dpx 10bit. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

  • These guys review the Seiki and say that you do see a difference.

  • Dont forget that Sony have two ‘affordable’ models on offer as well:

    XBR-55X90A (55-inch) – $4,999
    XBR-65X900A (65-inch) – $6,999

    8 years ago I paid $5k for a 720p 50 inch LG rear projection TV. This is remarkable value for a ‘first to market’ new technology by a name brand. Still I doubt I would spend $5k when its likely a similar or better panel will be available for half that price in a year or so.

    But as JJ said – it has begun, consumer level 4k is set to take off big time.

  • No-One-Cares!! 720P is Good-Enough for Joe Sixpack. We have a new generation that watches Feature Films on their iDevices … they Do-Not-Care.

    I grew-up watching Technicolor movies printed with the Imbibition process. Watching a video on a Sony TV is about as close as you can get to the Rich Blacks of the old Technicolor prints. But there is no effing way I’m going to buy a $5,000.00 TV. Actually there is no-effing-way I’d spend $1.200.00 on a low quality 4K TV. YMMV.

    • agree, they simply do not care. A few, maybe, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are pushing hard another technology that people just have no demand for. We’ll see.

    • You mean Bill Beerbelly?

    • They will care when sports are broadcast in 4k.

      • Sports no way … porn maybe. The average American does not care about quality. they care about CHEAP! When 4K sets sell for less than 720p TVs people will buy them.

        The longer NASCAR events are called Suitecase of Beer and Two Buckets of Chicken races. They will NOT cut back to Two Sixpacks and One Bucket of Chicken to buy a 4K set. Ain’t gonna happen!

  • Again it’s not 4K, this is UHDTV, 4K display must have a horinzontal resolution of 4096 pixels.

    • Finally some sense.

    • We’re going to continue using both interchangeably because Ultra High Definition is a horrible marketing term which has nothing to do with anything. This isn’t like an SD to HD thing where the difference between the two is massive – 4K to UHD is 200 pixels, and this TV itself is also being advertised as 4K2K.

      4K Academy ratio is 3656 × 2664 – not even close to 4K, but it works better as a general term.

      • Plus my Wedding and Music Video clients usually get excited when I mention UltraHD but confused when I call it 4K, even after I explain the horizontal pixel measurements and compare it to a “1.9K Full HD image” lol, so I just call all 4K UHD now. (though I personally prefer the QuadHD moniker)

        On a sperate note, the cheapest I found this TV on sale is $1,300 not $1,200 (I know it’s just a $100 difference but it bugs me)

        • Yeah the sale for $1,200 has now ended I believe, but $1,200 is what RED but a bunch of them for, along with some other people.

    • It is 4K.

      The official name is 4K Ultra High Definition TV which is to separate it from 8K Ultra High Definition. These are terms set forth by the International Telecommunication Union – a specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies.

      In this press release – it is noted that 4K is an acceptable shorthand:

      It’s not the 4096 as defined by the Digital Cinem Initiative, but it has the same vertical resolition 2160 an it maintains the 16×9 aspect ratio versus the 1.9 aspect ratio

      • Thanks John, didn’t even realize they deemed that acceptable shorthand.

      • The official term for “4K” and “8K” is UHD Level 1 and UHD Level 2 (formerly known as Super Hi-Vi)

        The article didn’t say 4k and 8k are acceptable shorthand, it just simply points them out.

        • “As a shorthand way of describing them, they are sometimes called the ‘4K’ and ‘8K’ UHDTV systems.”

          I’ll give you this – this one press release is not an official declaration. But at the same time, it’s not an official denial either.

          If the governing boards that hand down these terms to us peasants on the ground don’t seem to have an issue with the term 4K when they mean UltraHD – then I think the issue is strictly pedantic.

          On a related note, I just ordered some 4K Sunglasses off the TV.