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.