Inexpensive Sub-$1,000 4K (Ultra HD) TVs You Can Buy Today

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With most 4K big flat screen TVs from top brands such as Samsung, Sony, LG, etc, still hovering way above 1,000 US dollars, seeing these Ultra High Definition (UHD) screens inside most homes today may seem like a small possibility. However, with what the recently ended Consumer Electronics Show of 2014 is suggesting, this might change pretty quickly as brands like Vizio begin to offer sub-$1,000 4K models. As such, the Samsung-Sony-LG bloc are bound to notice and sooner or later may compete in that price point (or near it at least), especially as the technology continues to mature.

But if you wish to dip into the 4K trend early and get one into your living room right now, you can actually do so without having to withdraw a portion of your retirement savings. While most Samsung-Sony-LG UHD models are still priced around $3,000 and up, some small brands are actually undercutting these big 3 by a huge margin with sub-$1,000 units that are out in the market RIGHT NOW!

Related article: Using a Seiki 4K LED TV as your PC or Mac monitor

Sub-$500 39-inch 4K LED Flat Screen

First on the list is the Seiki Digital SE39UY04 39-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED TV which is the cheapest I can find right now (at least online). It is a full-fledged 4K device which features all the stuff you’d expect from such a television. It’s flat and thin with a 3840 x 2160 actual screen resolution and a widescreen 16:9 ratio profile and a refresh rate of 130Hz. All the standard connectivity features and ports are offered with 3 HDMI and 2 USB inputs available.

Sub-$1,000 50-inch 4K LED Flat Screens

I found 3 units that fit the bill and one’s another Seiki. The Seiki SE50UY04 50-inch (see product image above) is basically similar to the 39-inch model in features and specs save for the screen size. The other 2 models are from TCL: the TCL LE50UHDE5691 and LE50UHDE5692G which are both UHD models with very similar specs to the Seikis above. One difference is that the second model LE50UHDE5692G is actually a little over the $1,000 budget that I was shooting for (it’s currently $1,099.99 on Amazon). The reason for this is probably because this model is dubbed as a “Smart TV” because it uses an Android OS which means you can use Android applications and get Internet content on it.

If you’re the curious type and wondering what’s all the fuss with all the 4K talk going about the TV industry, but don’t want spend a fortune satisfying your curiosity, then it might be worth it to check out these models from Seiki and TCL. Sure they aren’t produce by the Ivy leagues of electronics manufacturing but if you base it on the current feedback from buyers, it might not be too much of a risk to purchase these things. Why go for HD when you can go Ultra HD, right?

Also read: Choosing between LCD TVs, LED TVs and OLED TVs

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Using a 4K TV as computer monitor?

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One of the things people might be wondering about 4K TVs is whether they can be used as full time monitor displays for computers. Well, the short answer, as the following video by MrThaiBox123 of Youtube shall show is YES. This solves a lot of the screen real estate issues plaguing many of us since most laptop or desktop computer monitors hasn’t really gotten past high definition level pixel counts. If you only have a laptop, you could set this up for your home work station so that when you get home, all you do is plug in your laptop and you can have a bigger, more spacious screen to work with. Will certainly come in handy if you’re into photography, graphics and video which usually require ample screen space.

Related article: Using your desktop computer monitor as your TV

One question that might pop in your head is on the cost-effectiveness of such a setup. With most 4K TVs from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony being sold at approximately $3,000 minimum, would the additional resolution be worth the price? Well, the answer is probably no if you’re looking at those brands. The video looks at a 39-inch unit made by Seiki which is significantly less expensive (at only $499.99 as of this writing) Continue reading “Using a 4K TV as computer monitor?” »

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Packing more pixels into those flat screens with 4K!

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The race to cram more pixels into those displays isn’t only limited to smart phones, tablets or computer screens as it has also benefited the ubiquitous television. If you think we’re stuck at HD (high-definition) then I guess you’ll be happy to know that we’ve actually moved on from that by what many considers a big leap in pixel count— about 4 times more pixels, to be more precise, compared to the standard 1080p HD television.

Comparison of the different resolution standards

Comparison of the different resolution standards


What is dubbed as 4k television, otherwise known as Ultra HD (UHD) flat screens with resolutions of 3840×2160 to 5120×3200 depending on the aspect ratio (HD resolution is just 1920×1080), has actually been around for a bit of time but I’ve not really paid much attention to them since they’re really still pretty expensive (the way LCD flat screens were when they were new in the market). However, the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) has made developments in the 4k arena a bit harder to ignore with some cool demonstrations of head-turning TV displays that are reportedly bound for the consumer market— all of them packing some mean pixel firepower!

Take, for example, the stunning display of curves from Samsung and LG with their respective 105 in. curved screen TVs which they both claim are the world’s first. Both TVs sport Ultra HD pixel count levels with 21:9 ratio which makes it pretty wide indeed and will be a true centerpiece of any living space. These two same companies also showed prototypes of a TV screen that bends. Yep, bendable TVs may be in your living rooms sooner than you think, provided that you can afford them at their first mass market release.

Samsung's 105 in. curved TV (Image credit: TheVerge.com)

Samsung’s 105 in. curved TV (Image credit: TheVerge.com)


Another interesting development is the fact that companies are truly making them televisions smarter for a more interactive viewing experience by putting in more sophisticated operating systems (OS). LG showed off a new flat screen unit installed with a proprietary OS called WebOS (which they actually acquired from HP) which can make the TV access more than traditional TV shows as it can also show Internet content and can be used as a communication device as well (e.g. using Skype, etc.). Hisense also showed a TV installed with its own version of Google’s Android OS which isn’t really surprising as it isn’t the first non-smartphone device that got “Androidized” but is still, I think, a clever way to innovate more on the smart TV experience.

But the best news is yet to come as one of the best developments all in all is the price war trend developing among these top companies. Vizio beat them all to it by releasing the first sub-$1,000 unit which, incidentally, is also their very first offering on 4K! This is a 50-inch model which is indeed pretty surprising considering the current price levels of TVs of such size from the bigger brands (Samsung, Sony, etc.). While lower prices have been seen in smaller, relatively unknown brands, such trend creeping into the Samsung or Sony territory would be welcome development indeed.

Related article: 4K Ultra HD LED TVs Below $1,000

Electronics companies are obviously betting on the 4k as the wave of the future but is their bet well-founded? Is the market adopting? Reports indicate that it’s slowly doing so and that things are also slowly happening in other 4K-related devices as well. Some new set-top boxes are adopting 4K as well which bodes well for those wondering if 4K content will be supported well into the future.

Will you buy 4K anytime soon?

Also read: LCD vs. LED vs. OLED TVs: What’s the difference?

References:
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/best-4k-tvs-ces-2014-1431723
http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/9/5291546/spec-sheet-tvs-ces-2014-curved-4k-flexible
http://www.eeweb.com

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The Advantages of Expensive HDMI Cables Over Generic Ones? None Mostly!

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While shopping around for an HDMI cable, I stumbled onto a very interesting experiment which set out to answer whether pricey HDMI cables do have any relative advantage compared to their more inexpensive generic counterparts. All of us HD enthusiasts can relate to this, can’t we? Seeing as to how varied the prices of these things are out there, I was quite interested with the results. As for me, in choosing between a $200 and a $12 cable, I’d love to have some hard facts as to why I should go for the wallet-breaker over one that I could buy without batting an eyelash. What’s up with these expensive cables anyway?

The experimenter in this case is a guy named Zsolt Malota who runs an audio-visual installation outfit, a business which he started in 1995. His hypothesis was that HDMI cables of the same category but varying in price points should perform similarly under normal circumstances. Parameters that he needed to measure were related to image quality like image brightness and color rendition and he used some really fancy gear and software for the comparison.

Materials, Tools, Software

calib-5Materials for this experiment were composed of, a 2 mtr. cable bundled with a Toshiba BD player box (BDX1200Y), a generic HDMI cable (2 mtr., $12), a WireWorld cable (5 mtr., $140) and a fancy Audio Dimension cable (5 m., approx. $200).

Image quality was measured using an X-rite i1pro Spectrophotometer, an X-right Hubble Colorimeter (mounted on a professional Benro tripod setup) and a Quantum Data QD780 signal generator. Television used was a Samsung PS50C7000 plasma screen TV. A laptop with a commercial installation of a Calman calibration software.

The spectrophotometer is a device that measures light values (brightness) while the colorimeter measures the different visible light wavelengths (color values). Used together, an observer will be able to measure the correctness or accuracy of color rendition on a TV screen.

Results

After feeding the the readings into the software, it is pretty clear that the cheap HDMI cable doesn’t seem to have any any significant drawbacks as far as image color rendition/reproduction is concerned as either of the cables showed color readings that fell exactly where they should in the gamut color charts. Meaning, the $12 cable performed just as good as the $200 cable. See the gamut charts produced by the software over at Zsolt’s thread at the Overclockers forum where he reported his results.55-33021-iibuy-12dollarThis basically tells you to save your $200 for something else and just go get the cheap one for your HD home theater set-up! Jason Imms of Tested.com, however, suggested that there may be situations you’d want a pricier cable such as when there’s a need to lay down the cables inside of walls or underneath floors. In such cases, you’d want cables that are manufactured with top quality durable materials that will stand the test of time. It’s expected that the cheap generic ones are probably not built to last so better keep that in mind if you’re shopping for one.

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Troubleshooting & Repair Information for Newer LED and 3D Flat Screens

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If you’ve been following this site for a while now and are wondering if the TV repair courses (like the training programs created by electronics expert Kent Liew & Jestine Yong) that I’ve featured in the past would still be applicable to today’s newer crop of flat screen TVs like the newer, more impressive LED and 3D televisions then I think that you’d be happy to know that yes indeed, this training course now include information that will enable you to understand, troubleshoot and repair newer television display technologies.

Attention-LCD TV Membership copy

Is there a big difference between LCD and LED TVs?

The transition should be easier than most people think because the newer technologies are only built upon the innovation on previous implementation of the older technologies. Case in point are the so called LED flat screens of today. Not all people know that these are simply applications of improved LCD back-lighting technologies using smaller, lighter and more energy efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes). These devices still use LCD screen displays but instead of the older CCFL* back-lighting, they use LEDs. And since LEDs are more compact, these enable designers to come up with slimmer and lighter models (check out “edge-lighting models”) that we see a lot today. Take note: LED TVs are simply LED back-lit LCD TVs and while manufacturers seem to package these things as newer technologies, one is simply the progeny of the other. In fact, for the sake of transparency, regulation should direct all manufacturers to categorize them as “LED LCD TVs” in the packaging! 🙂

The same goes for 3D flat screen TVs as these are basically the same LCD screens re-designed and modified for 3D viewing.

Hence, the same troubleshooting and repair principles should apply to these newer display screens and it should be easy for most electronics repair people to transition.

>>>>> Visit Kent Liew’s LED & 3D TV Repair Training Resource Site <<<<<

*CCFL – cold cathode fluorescent lamp

Sources:
http://tv.about.com/od/frequentlyaskedquestions/f/LEDvsLCDtvs.htm
http://asia.cnet.com/led-vs-lcd-tv-which-is-better-update-62055838.htm

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Fixing an LG 55LV4400 LED TV that won’t power up

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Here’s a nice little video on how to repair an LG LED television that refuses to turn on. The procedure was performed by the flat screen TV’s owner who also happens to be an electrical engineer and he found out about how to solve the problem online. It turns out the problem was pretty common for similar LG units and that it is usually caused by a faulty chip on the TV’s main board. The video suggests that you can either replace the main board itself or simply replace the busted chip with a new one. Since a brand new main board costs approximately $200, he chose to just replace the chip which only costs less than $20 online.

What’s interesting to note is that the unit is just a little over 1 year old from its manufacturing date so it’s relatively a young unit that went bonkers. Goes to show the quality (or lack thereof) of components manufacturing companies use for their products.

Also read: Learn How to Solder (9-Part Video Lesson)

2 IN 1 SMD HOT AIR REWORK SOLDERING IRON STATION with 2 iron handles

2 IN 1 SMD HOT AIR REWORK SOLDERING IRON STATION with 2 iron handles

This repair will require a little bit of soldering skills so you will need a soldering equipment to achieve the results. In fact, you’ll need one that has a hot air blower like this 2-in-1 SMD Hot Air Rework Soldering Iron Station which you can get in Amazon as you will need the blower to remove the chip from its soldered mount. A replacement chip can be obtained online and the model name according to the video author is a Macronix MX25L6406 which is a flash chip that contains proprietary firmware/program required by the LED LCD television. You can buy a blank chip for a much cheaper price of just a little over $2 but you can also get ones that already contains the program needed by the TV for about $17. You may need to use an EEPROM programmer to backup the contents/program in the chip before you proceed as a backup. Other specialized equipment that you may need is a stereo microscope as the chip is really small and alignment is critical in the installation process.

Safety first, guys! Don’t do this repair if you’re not well-equipped and don’t know what you’re doing. Soldering equipment produce high amounts of heat and you can get yourself burned or electrocuted if you’re not careful.

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