4K UHD TV Price War Rages On

– Samsung UHD TVs Are Half What They Were a Year Ago

– $598 for an LG 43-inch UHD

– Days Are Numbered for Name Brand 42-inch & Larger 1080p TVs

The message is short and simple: Top quality UHD TVs are now as inexpensive as HD sets were a year ago.

Of course, makers and sellers of TV sets have cut the price of soon-to-be-obsolete HD sets to sell off their remaining inventory. Soon, perhaps as early as the end of 2016, the only sets available that are 47-inches and larger will be UHD sets.

By then, the improvements to the 4K standard that set makers will have made in TV sets will result in picture quality that is starkly better than 1080p TV — much like the difference between standard definition and HD when HD first appeared.

Samsung is the world’s number one maker of UHD TVs but Vizio says it has the largest share of the US market for UHD TVs.

Samsung is fighting back by lowering its retail prices. Here are the latest sales prices from the regional retailer HH Gregg, which does not sell Vizio TV sets.

Samsung UHD TVs Sale price

55-inch flat JU6400 $998*

55-inch curved JU6700 $1198**

65-inch curved JU6700 $1998***

*The 55-inch JU6400 is the 2015 model that we paid $1,998 for a year ago — in June 2015. The same model was retailing for $1,398 in February of this year – 2015. So, the price for an improved model is half what it was a year ago.

**For $200 less than was paid for it in February of this year, you can get the curved model — curved having been considered at the time a premium feature that buyers would pay a lot more to own.

***The 65-inch curved model is of the size of the big HD TVs that Sharp was selling a few years ago for $3,000 to $4,000 — but with much better quality.

Sharp UHD TVs are selling at going-out-of-business prices — it is leaving the North American TV market, having sold the business to the Chinese tiger Hisense, which has not said whether or how it will use the Sharp brand, for which it paid, or whether it will continue making the current Sharp TVs in Sharp’s Mexican factory, which Hisense also bought. The Hisense-Sharp transaction signals the coming trend of Japanese setmakers abandoning the western markets and the Chinese setmakers moving in. The question is who will exit next? Sony? Panasonic? Toshiba?

Sharp UHD TVs Sale price

43-inch LC43UB3OU $598

50-inch LC50UB3OU $748

55-inch LC55UB3OU $898 ($100 less than Samsung’s 55-inch UHD)

LG did not get left out of the price wars.

LG UHD TVs Sale price

43-inch UF6400 $598

49-inch flat UF6400 $798

55-inch flat UF6800 $998

65-inch curved UF6800 $1,598 ($400 less than the Samsung 65-inch curved UHD TV)

There is only one barrier to UHD sets completely dominating the 47+ inch market. HD TVs are priced like they are stolen goods. HH Gregg offered these sale prices:

Make & Model Sale price

Proscan 39-inch 720p LED $198

Haier 48-inch 1080p $298

LG 49-inch 1080p TV $398

Samsung 48-inch 1080p $498

Samsung 65-inch 1080p smart TV $998

In fact, UHD TVs face another obstacle, which is the biggest: So-called experts, most of whom have never owned a UHD TV, recommending that consumers:

– Wait until more 4K content is available. The fact is that good UHD TVs upconvert non-4K content to near-4K quality so well that just the upconversion of existing video is worth the price.

– Wait until UHDs have HDR or some other technology that will improve them. That’s an endless game because next year’s set will always have some new technology.

– Wait until prices drop. That’s another endless game — like watching a dog chasing its tail.

The 4K naysayers are doing a great disservice to consumers ever since the price of UHD TVs dropped down to mass market levels, which was June 2014. They are depriving consumers of a better viewing experience that is available now.

People that have decided to buy a TV should buy one that has the very latest technology, not save a few hundred by buying out-of-date technology, which HD is. They should also buy the largest TV that fits their wall and their budget because 4K TVs can be comfortably viewed at even short distances — unlike HD TVs that show their pixels when viewed up close.



4K demands more bandwidth. Even when compressed by the very latest HEVC technology, 4K requires twice the bandwidth of 1080p. Consumers will need faster broadband and home networking, especially when 4K-capable tablets and smartphones become available.

Purchases of large quantities of UHD TVs, which is as certain as the sunrise, will prompt their purchasers to look for 4K content. The demand for 4K content will also ramp up when Apple launches 4K-capable tablets and smartphones. OTT services are still the best source for 4K content — in fact, the only source for non-DirecTV and non-Comcast subscribers — and will be until the linear TV crowd wakes up and sees how far it has been left behind.

The 4K Blu-ray, expected by year-end, has three obstacles:

– Existing Blu-ray players, now as inexpensive as $59 (the Samsung BDJ5100 at HH Gregg), will not play 4K discs. Nor can they be upgraded with firmware to 4K.

– 4K Blu-ray players will be expensive, at least initially.

– 4K Blu-ray discs will also be expensive — upwards of $30 or more.

There is one more. Consumers have grown accustomed to…

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The Online Reporter is the weekly subscription-based strategy bulletin about the enabling technologies of broadband, Wi-Fi, HDR, home networks, UHD 4K TV & OTT services; identifying trends in the Digital Media space. Only a fraction of our material here is published here. To see 4 free copies, follow the links above or go to www.onlinereporter.com/trial-subscription/

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