Cheap 4K UHD TVs: Who Wins and Who Loses in the New TV Market?

Jul 11, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Top executives from major TV sellers opened up about a new trend in the television set marketplace: the arrival of inexpensive 4K UHD television sets from third-tier and second-tier manufacturers. Dealerscope questioned them about whether the trend poses a threat to their brands.

Here are some of the comments:

Said Mike Fasulo, Executive Vice President, Sony: "I don’t see it as a threat. I see it as a terribly confusing situation for the consumer. I see some of it as irresponsible. … To shortchange the consumer is kind of disappointing. We’re just creating a new market, and already we’re hearing of brands coming out without upscaling, and trying to run a race to the bottom with pricing. Unfortunately, the consumer is going to be the victim in this case, which really bothers me. We emphasize not just the number of pixels but the picture engine that drives those pixels. We have eight million pixels in ours, and we’ll include the number in our specs, but the whole numbers game is not the play here; it’s really the experience."

Jay Vandenbree, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Home Entertainment Group, LG, commented: "It potentially sets a pricing limitation that there is little value in the R&D and things that go with developing a technology like Ultra HD, and that certainly isn’t the truth. From an industry standpoint, we struggle every day to make sure we can extract the value from our product. For someone to come in and say it’s only worth $1,500, I think that’s a potential issue. Even if it’s successful in terms of people wanting to buy a brand-new technology at a small price, now there’s going to be dissatisfaction with its output — especially in terms of overall picture quality and the 2K-to-4K upconversion. And that is just as bad for the industry, because it says the technology isn’t that good. But when done right, the technology is outstanding. I don’t understand why any retailer would want to support that, because it impacts their ability to be able to garner the value of the product. My opinion is that it’s a miss for a manufacturer wanting to drive that, or for a retailer wanting to support it."

Added Scott Ramirez, Vice President, Product Marketing & Development, Visual Products, Toshiba: "We don’t see those as a threat. The way we look at it is a customer who’s interested in 4K is interested because they appreciate good picture quality. And if that’s the case, once they compare the quality of those OPP (opening-price-point)-type 4K models versus Toshiba, with our CEVO 4K processor, we don’t believe they’d be interested in purchasing that low-cost 4K model, because it just won’t provide the same experience."

Please click on the link in the first paragraph, above, to read the other quotes in the Dealerscope report.


  1. The companies that dumped money into this are the losers. Whether you have satellite or cable you can’t even see true HD 1080X1920. Why? Because the distributors of the signal (over)compress all of the signals to the point that they are just barely better than standard definition. I just want to be able to use the TV I already have at the capability it was designed to produce.

  2. Well, I KNOW why $ony doesn’t want to see the cheap guys come in. Did anyone read the article the other day about what $ony wants to do to the comsumer with this new tech? Should be interesting. I hope the cheap guys screw it all up for the big monopoly guys ! p.s. sorry if this came thru twice.

  3. The sad thing is that people are going to look at the (pathetic) inexpensive 4K TVs and will come to the conclusion that 4K looks no different than current HDTVs do, and will generate negative perceptions about the format.

  4. If you’ve actually seen 4k content then you would know how much better it looks than 1080p (especially on larger sets). Sure there is compression but you’re still seeing “Full HD 1080p” and some companies have VERY good compression algorithms (Vudu HDX, for example).
    Not to mention the fact that the upcoming Sony PS4 will be able to output 4k video so while it may be a while before you see 4k cable/satellite, you will be able to watch 4k video with only light compression at home (just as you can watch 1080p on Blu-ray at home).

  5. The problem with Sony’s logic is that so many devices BEFORE the TV can and will provide the upscaling! There are already home theater receivers available that have upscaling to 4k and I’m almost positive that there are Blu-ray players and media streamers with upscaling tech. Look at the beginning of HDTV as an example. Most TV upscaling was comparatively terrible, yet people who were buying expensive first gen sets were stuck with it instead of relying on upscaling from the device side which is much cheaper to upgrade as advanced came about.
    Assuming the “cheap” 4k TVs still have decent panels, why should I pay twice for upscaling when I will need to buy a 4k capable playback device and receiver which will both almost certainly have their own upscaling?

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