While it's not likely to cause a stampede of shoppers at the local retail mall, LG told attendees of last week's CEDIA trade show that its 4K "ultra-vision" LCD TV—a 3D model with all the bells and whistles—will cost $20,000 when it's released in the U.S. this year.
That means the TV, model UD84LM9600, will be about $5,000 less than Sony's BR-84X900 4K model. LG's set is expected to arrive in October at select showroom retailers.
Like the Sony 4K set, LG's has a resolution of 3840x2160, which doubles both the horizontal and vertical resolution of a regular 1080p HDTV. The TV is loaded with features, including an LED backlight, built-in Wi-Fi, and LG's Smart TV platform with access to streaming movies and TV shows. The TV uses LG's passive 3d technology, and because of its higher pixel grid, it will be able to present 3D images in full high-definition. (The use of polarization in passive 3D TVs cuts the set's vertical resolution in half in the 3D mode.) The TV will also feature gesture and voice control.
The UD 84LM9600 includes LG's Resolution Upscaler Plus technology, which upconverts standard high-definition content to quasi-4K resolution. When done well, it can give viewers a glimpse of what the higher resolution promises. This could be important to would-be buyers, since native 4K content won't be widely available for some time.
Not surprisingly, the TV itself won't be widely available either, at least in the short term. LG is requiring those dealers who are authorized to carry the set to have the space and ability to demonstrate the product on retail showrooms, to train their staff to properly explain its features, and to offer installation. Online sales are being prohibited.
Although we're still waiting to see whether Samsung and Panasonic will announce 4K sets, it's clear from the $20,000 buy-in price that 4K TVs won't be mainstream for quite a few years. We're also waiting to see what kind of price tags the new OLED TVs carry when they arrive later this year, and how 4K and OLED TVs are positioned when both are more widely available. Stay tuned for more reports about emerging new TV technologies, and hopefully a few first-look reviews on some actual sets.
Sony's 84-inch 4K TV will cost $25K
First Look: How LG's first 'passive' 3D TV stacks up
CES 2012: LG adds Google TVs, Smart TVs get voice and gesture control
CES 2012 Video: Samsung shows 'Super OLED' and other new HDTVs
CES 2012: LG's televisions [video]
—James K. Willcox