If you've never heard of Seiki, you're not the only one. The China-based company made its first push into the US TV market in early 2013 by selling 4K-resolution TVs for thousands less than traditional TV brands.
The SEUY04 series of LED LCDs with 4K resolution will soon add a third, 65-inch screen size. As of October 2013, each is the least-expensive in its class.
The newly announced 65-inch model, available in December, breaks new size/price ground, undercutting 65-inch 4K sets from Sony, Samsung and LG by $2,000 (barring more massive price drops). The 50-incher is tied with the TCL LE50UHDE5691 as the only 4K set of its size under a grand. Meanwhile the 39-incher still holds the crown as the cheapest 4K TV on the market.
|SE65UY04 (available December)||65-inch||$2,999|
4K, officially known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), provides four times as many pixels as standard 1080p. That means a pixel count of 3,840x2,160. The advantage, according to 4K's proponents, is an even sharper picture. One problem, according to us, is that you'll have to sit very close, especially to smaller screens, to appreciate the difference. There are many other issues, too, to the extent that we currently consider 4K TVs pretty stupid.
Aside from the extra pixels these Seikis are pretty bare-bones. Each has a 120Hz refresh rate and can accept 4K signals at 24 or 30Hz. They all lack the 60Hz 4K input capability of newer sets equipped with HDMI 2.0, making them less suited for PC monitor use. Seiki also equips them with USB ports for display of 4K and other high-resolution photos.
I reviewed the 50-inch SE50UY04 in May, and found little to like. It didn't perform as well as numerous other 50-inch non-4K TVs, and the extra resolution was largely wasted at that screen size. Yes, it made an impressive PC monitor, but an impressive TV it wasn't.
CNET contributor Geoff Morrison followed up with a comparison between the 50-inch 4K Seiki LED LCD and a 50-inch 720p Samsung plasma that cost $500. The plasma won.
Although we haven't reviewed the 39- or 65-inch sizes, I'd be surprised if their picture quality was markedly different from that of the 50-incher. Yes, the larger set should be able to do 4K sources more justice, and the smaller one might make more sense as a desktop PC monitor, but don't expect either one to match the picture quality of the better non-4K TVs.