The 84-inch Ultra HD TV from LG.(Photo: LG Electronics)
High-definition TVs have officially graduated to Ultra HD.
first Ultra high-definition flat panel displays in the U.S. go on sale
today in Los Angeles. The 84-inch LED TV from LG Electronics delivers
four times the resolution of current HDTVs and has an ultra-high price
tag of $19,999 to match its impressive images. Sony has its own 84-inch
set priced at $24,999 due in late November or early December.
"As television gets bigger and bigger we need more lines of resolution
and pixels to maintain the picture quality," says Jay Vandenbree, head
of LG's U.S. home entertainment business.
manufacturer interest in Ultra HD that industry trade group the
Consumer Electronics Association last week adopted guidelines for the
higher-resolution sets. They must
have at least 8 million pixels - four times that of current HDTVs. The more pixels, the sharper the picture display.
Ultra HD label not only lets shoppers know that a new flavor of HD is
available, but also helps ease confusion, says Shawn DuBravac, CEA's
chief economist and director of research. "You want to make sure
consumers understand where the technology fits in," he says.
still might be some consumer confusion. Despite the CEA's move, Sony
will continue to use the previous high-def designation of "4K," which
refers to the nearly 4,000 horizontal resolution lines, with its
upcoming sets, calling their sets "4K UHD."
Perhaps the most
frustrating aspect of Ultra HD is that currently there's little content
available to take advantage of the higher resolution. Similar
situations greeted the first HDTVs and color sets.
displays, including LG's and Sony's, will convert Blu-ray disc movies to
the higher resolution of the larger sets. "What they own today will
look great" on the new set, Vandenbree says.
New Ultra HD sets
will also display 3-D content that looks better than that on current
sets. And some new video cameras shoot Ultra HD resolution video, too.
But Al Griffin, technical editor at Sound + Vision
magazine, doubts the sets will have much initial appeal to most
shoppers. "It's expensive," he says, and consumers "are probably not
going to sit close enough to the screen to really benefit from that
extra resolution even if they did have" programs to watch.
is looking into providing Ultra HD content "whether it shows up in a
Blu-ray disc or whether it is downloaded, streamed" or transmitted
through pay-TV providers, DuBravac says.
The new LG displays will
be sold at high-end electronics retailers and will hit most major
markets in time for the holiday shopping season.
The first U.S.
retailer to show and sell the sets to consumers, Video & Audio
Center in Lawndale, Calif., will price the Ultra HD displays at
$16,999.99 starting at a special Ultra HD debut event today.
says of Ultra HD: "It makes sense for it to exist at this point as a
format, as something you can (eventually) get on cable TV or on Blu-ray,
because screens are trending larger."