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Smaller—and lower-cost—Ultra HD TVs coming from Sony and others

Smaller—and lower-cost—Ultra HD TVs coming from Sony and others

If you’ve been wondering how much cheaper smaller-sized Ultra HD sets will be than their gargantuan ancestors, we’re starting to get an idea of prices. Sony just announced that its least expensive UHD TV to date—a 55-inch model—will cost $5,000, and we expect to see some even less expensive models later in the year from a few secondary brands.

Ultra HDs are a new breed of LCD TVs with so-called 4K resolution (3840×2160), which means they have four times as many pixels as current 1080p HDTVs.

Later this month you’ll be able to buy one of Sony’s newer Ultra HD sets—either the $5,000 55-inch XBR-55X900A, or a 65-inch version (XBR-65X900A)—for $7,000. Both will be flagship models loaded with features, including LED backlights and Sony’s new Triluminous color technology (which purports to produce a richer, wider gamut of colors), which isn’t available on the older 84-inch model we briefly tested.

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In addition to Wi-Fi and access to a lot of online content, including several streaming movie and TV services, these TVs have built-in NFC (near-field communications) technology, which the 84-incher lacks. NFC—or, as Sony called it, “one-touch” technology—lets you pair portable devices such as tablets and smart phones to the TV by simply touching them to the TV remote.

Sony has also revealed the price of it Ultra HD media player, called the FMP-X1. The circular player, which can be used to download 4K movies for playback on a Sony 4K TV, will cost $700 and come preloaded with 10 feature films. The player will replace the media server currently being offered to those who purchase Sony’s 85-inch TV. This fall, Sony will roll out a distribution service from which Ultra HD TV owners can rent or download 4K movies for a fee.

But Sony won’t be alone in the market with smaller, less expensive TVs—this year. Here’s what we know so far about other Ultra HD TV plans:

Westinghouse said it will have a $2,500 50-inch Ultra HD TV, a $3,000 55-inch set, and $4,000 65-inch 4K model later in the year. At CES, the company said they’d ship in the first quarter, but now the TVs likely won’t hit until the third quarter. Reportedly, the sets will be bare-bones models without Smart TV, and there is a question of what level of 4K upscaling they’ll include. The company should have more info in a few months.

Hisense also won’t ship until Q3. The companyl reportedly will offer two series: The XT880 series (in 50-, 55-, 58-, and 65-inch screen sizes) and a single 84-inch flagship model in the XT900, apparently using the same UHD panel as Sony and LG. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced.

Haier showed a 55-inch Ultra HD at CES, but hasn’t released update info. We’re also expecting more news from TCL, which—like Westinghouse—showed a 110-inch Ultra HD TV at CES. We think the company will likely focus on a 65-inch Ultra HD TV this year for 2013, but we haven’t received any updated info.

Finally, Vizio is slated to launch a 70-inch XVT-series Ultra HD TV in the 3rd quarter of the year, but no pricing has been announced so far.

Do you have any interest in Ultra HD TVs? Let us know whether these smaller TVs with lower prices appeal to you, or if you’d rather go bigger to take full advantage of the set’s greater resolution.

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