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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Toshiba Ultra HD 4K TVs to Hit Store Shelves by Labor Day

Ultra HD 4K is gearing up to be the big "new" thing this holiday season, with at least 33 new models slated for release by Christmas. However, the $64,000 question that still has some CEA analysts concerned is whether consumers are suffering from format burnout after having had 3D thrust down their throats. It doesn't exactly help matters that there's an absence of playback hardware and content to deter most from taking the plunge at a time when flat-panel sales are projected to remain flat for another 12 to 18 months.

That said, one manufacturer that is undeterred and ready to hit the ground running is Toshiba. The company plans to have three Ultra HD 4K TVs on sale by the time the kids go back to school in September.

Toshiba was less than forthcoming with pricing information at CE Week 2013 in New York City, but we should expect to see the 55-, 65- and 84-inch L9300U Ultra HD TVs on sale at select retailers sometime this summer. Now, we're not holding our breath that Toshiba will be offering the two smallest first-generation Ultra HD 4K models for less than $5500. However, we're encouraged by another more significant step that the manufactuerer is taking: Making education a priority, in an effort to convince a rather skeptical consumer that Ultra HD 4K is worth the investment.

One thing that Toshiba is being realistic about is the reality that large flat-panel sales are not projected to tick upward until 2015, when the CEA projects the 60-inch+ category to really take off in both North American, European, and Asian markets.

Scott Ramirez, Toshiba's VP of marketing and development, was extremely blunt in his assesment of the market during his remarks at the Ultra HD Summit held in New York during CE Week 2013. "3D has never really met the high expectations set for it, and while we think consumers are going to immediately appreciate the ability to watch full HD 3D with passive glasses on one our of Ultra HD 4K TVs, it's not going to be the reason why consumers are going to invest in the new technology," he explained.

"Not all 4K is created equal," he went on to say. "We're extremely proud of the upscaling performance of our LS9300U series and that is why consumers will upgrade to the new format, even with all of the legitimate questions and concerns about content, standards, and the future of HDMI 2.0."

Rather than tell consumers that they need to invest in the new format, Toshiba plans on being very aggressive on the retail end, by setting up sophisticated interactive endcaps at major retailers. Consumers will have the ability to not only sample native 4K content (loaded on a SD card) on the 55- and 65-inch models, but compare 4K to upsampled 1080p content and standard HD content.

Toshiba is also introducing the BDX6400 Symbio Media Box and Blu-ray player, which will be the first consumer player to offer 4K upscaling of 1080p content from streaming content and Blu-ray optical discs.

With almost no 4K content, consumers are going to require a lot of patience with the new format. Of course, Sony has the FMP-X1 Ultra HD 4K Media Player, which only works with Sony's first generation Ultra HD 4K TVs (can anyone say Betamax?). As impressive as Toshiba's image quality was, we still think you should wait another year before taking the plunge.

View the original article here

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