High-Def Digest Checks Out The First 4K Ultra-HD TV in the US

Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 02:00 PM PDT by
LG introduces Ultra-HD TV

by Michael S. Palmer

Hundreds gathered last Thursday -- some waiting overnight -- at Video & Audio Center in sunny Lawndale, California (which, the Mayor reminded everyone is NOT Torrance) for the official launch of the first Ultra-High-Definition television available in the US market. The 84-inch television, model 84LM9600, is an LED TV with a "4K" 3840 x 2160 screen resolution. At eight million pixels, that's four times the pixel count and resolution of current "Full HD" 1080p televisions. The 48LM9600 includes LG's Magic Remote for hand gesture and voice control, is 3D capable using passive glasses and, as one of LG's Smart TVs, comes equipped with apps and access to streaming audio and video content.

But "wait a minute," you may be asking yourselves. They have 4K digital projectors in commercial cinemas, but is there any home entertainment -- broadcast, streaming, download, physical media -- available today in the new Ultra-HD standard? That depends. There are a few 4K DSLR cameras and video recording devices, so if you're a budding filmmaker or a home-movie enthusiast, you could watch your own content on the Ultra-HD TV. However, in terms of professionally produced product -- Hollywood films, television series, and video games -- you're currently limited to Blu-ray's 1080p content.

But fret not, my friends, LG has you covered with its proprietary up-conversion engine (this TV has two dual-core processors built-in), the "LG Resolution Upscaler Plus," which automatically up-coverts all of your content to 3840 x 2160. I didn't get to check a variety of sources in person, but after watching the in-store demo loop over and over again (the source, according to LG: an LG Blu-ray player), and it looked stunning. Jaw-dropping even.

Most of the footage was from HD time lapse photography -- famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, beautiful desert canyons, rolling clouds in clear blue skies, starscapes swimming across the horizon. You've seen this material before, and I would have sworn LG hooked up a 4K source. Other than some light banding seen at an unfair distance of 12-24 inches, which I'm guessing is in the source material or Blu-ray encode, the Ultra-HD TV was mesmerizing. Though, to be fair, ever other 1080p HDTV in the store wasn't running the demo loop so there wasn't a chance to compare and contrast it with the best LEDs and Plasmas from LG and competing brands, but still the demo was breathtaking. For what it's worth, LG claims the LG Resolution Upscaler Plus will work with SD footage as well, but I didn't get to see that first hand. My guess is results would vary depending on the source quality and viewing distance.

So how much will you have to pay to be among the world's first to own a 4K display and is it even worth it?

The MSRP is listed as $19,999.99, but the retail price at Video & Audio Center was a few pennies shy of $17,000. LG claims that any TV or display above 65-inches (what this intrepid reporter owns) will benefit from the added pixels Ultra-High-Definition, but then again there are a lot of people with projectors happy with screens in the 100-200 inch range. Also, the lack of native 4K content concerns me. The full press release follows below, but here's the one disclaimer that caught my eye:

*No “ultra high definition” or “4K” video content is currently available. No broadcast or other standard currently exists for “4K” or “ultra high definition” television, and the 84LM9600 may or may not be compatible with such standards if and when developed.

Remember all those early adopters who had DVI or RGB component HD inputs on their "HDTVs" who ran into limitations when HDMI arrived on the scene? The risk here is that you'll be stuck with a next-generation TV that can't actually play next-generation content. But then again, if you're in the market for an 84-inch television, having four-times the pixels is certainly a benefit much like having a high quality computer monitor -- Retina Display or other -- where everything on your computer looks better, even 720p and 1080p content.

Here's a few more pictures of the world's first Ultra-HD TV in action, followed by the official LG Press Release:


LG’s 84-inch Class Display Boasts Four Times the Resolution of Full HD,
Ushers in New Era in Picture Quality for Large-Screen TVs

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25, 2012 – Ushering in a new era in home entertainment, the first “Ultra High Definition” flat-panel TV – with four times the resolution of today’s HDTVs – went on sale today to consumers in the United States.

LG Electronics USA chose Southern California, the epicenter of entertainment and innovation, as the consumer launchpad for this groundbreaking technology. Teaming up with high-end retailer Video & Audio Center, LG hosted hundreds of consumers eager to be among the first in the United States to have an opportunity to see and purchase LG’s new Ultra HD TV.

The LG 84-inch class (84-inch diagonal) LED TV, with a native Ultra High Def screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 to match its impressive size*, has an MSRP of $19,999.99. Model 84LM9600 quadruples the level of detail from full 1080p HD resolution to a massive 8 million pixels. Even before so-called “4K” content is available, LG’s powerful up-conversion engine, the proprietary “LG Resolution Upscaler Plus,” delivers higher detail from current HD/SD external sources.

On hand at Video & Audio Center’s Lawndale/Torrance, Calif. store today to discuss the importance of Ultra HD’s development and its expected market adoption were industry luminaries, including Jeff Joseph of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); Randall Dark, an award winning director and 4K content pioneer; and industry insider and technologist Tom Campbell.

  • Joseph, CEA’s senior vice president of communications and strategic relationships and passionate advocate for 4K technology, said, “Innovation drives our industry, and Ultra High Definition is the latest innovation that will transform home entertainment. This milestone is a pivotal moment in TV history because Ultra HD 4K technology will make it possible for consumers to purchase huge TVs with crystal clear picture quality.”
  • Dark, CEO of Randall Dark Productions, and one of the world’s first directors/ cinematographers to advance high-definition programming, said, “Content is always a major factor when new hardware technologies are introduced on the market. The LG Ultra HD TV’s upscaling capability is crucial so consumers can enjoy the benefits of higher resolution now, while the rest of the industry, myself included, work on ways to advance this new format with native 4K content.”
  • Campbell, widely quoted technologist and futurist who serves on the CEA Ultra HD Working Group, said, “I liken the dawn of Ultra HD technology to the switch from standard-definition analog TV to digital high-definition TV in the late 1990s. It’s going to be big, and not just because it’s key for big screens. I can already see consumers calling for more models, more sizes and more content.”

“Picture quality has always been LG’s foremost priority, one that’s especially important now as manufacturers scale TVs to meet the trend line pointing toward larger and larger class sizes,” said Jay Vandenbree, senior vice president, LG Electronics USA, and head of LG’s U.S. home entertainment business. “We were instrumental in developing the HD standard and, similarly, our goal now is to pioneer Ultra High Def technology to create the crisp and immersive viewing experience consumers are currently missing with large-screen TVs.”

Joseph Akhtarzad, vice president and co-owner of Video & Audio Center’s three LA-area stores, said, “Ultra High Definition is a very significant development, a high-end product catering to a high-end consumer who demands the ultimate home entertainment experience. We are proud to be the first retailer in the nation to sell this cutting-edge LG technology to consumers.”

In addition to its excellent picture quality, LG’s 84LM9600 boasts a growing Smart TV ecosystem, which is composed of over 1,000 apps and gives users access to a growing range of premium content services**. Users can easily browse and navigate through the Smart TV ecosystem using LG’s Magic Remote, which allows users to make commands using the control modes of Voice Recognition, Wheel, Magic Gesture and Point. It also features LG’s CINEMA 3D technology and an imbedded 2D to 3D conversion engine expanding 3D content availability. For more information on LG’s Ultra HD TV please visit, https://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-84LM9600-led-tv.

*No “ultra high definition” or “4K” video content is currently available. No broadcast or other standard currently exists for “4K” or “ultra high definition” television, and the 84LM9600 may or may not be compatible with such standards if and when developed.

**Internet connection and certain subscriptions required and sold separately. Content and services vary by product and are subject to change without notice.

For a small percentage of the population, the viewing of stereoscopic 3D video may cause discomfort such as dizziness or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue using the 3D functionality and contact your health care provider.

Designs, features and specifications subject to change without notice. LG LED TVs are LCD TVs with LED backlighting.

About LG Electronics USA, Inc.
LG Electronics USA, Inc., based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., is the North American subsidiary of LG Electronics, Inc., a $49 billion global force and technology leader in consumer electronics, home appliances and mobile communications. In the United States, LG Electronics sells a range of stylish and innovative home entertainment products, mobile phones, home appliances, commercial displays, air conditioning systems and energy solutions, all under LG’s “Life’s Good” marketing theme. LG Electronics is a 2012 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. For more information, please visit www.lg.com.



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Tags: High-Def Retailing, Industry Trends, LG, HD TV, Ultra-HD TV, 4K Ultra-HD TV (all tags)