LG Electronics kicked off its 4K, Ultra HD TV promotion with an event at Santa Monica’s Video and Audio Center. The starts were the 55- and 65-inch Ultra HD 4K displays. The model LA9700 sets are unbelievably stunning and available for preorder at MSRPs of $6,000 and $8,000, respectively. That’s $1,000 more than the same-sized sets from Sony – models XBR-55X900A and XBR-65X900A – retailing for $5,000 and $7,000, respectively. Are the LG displays worth the premium?
If you’re all about video quality, then maybe so. I saw the Sony and LG sets side-by-side yesterday at VAC, and LG had a slight edge … ever so slight.
You can blame that on LG’s nano full LED array backlighting, which “produces deeper black levels and evens out colors throughout the display,” says Eddie Lee, LG senior product marketing manager who attended the launch from Korea. “You have to give a reason to [get consumers to] spend an additional $1,000.”
LG vice president John Taylor tells me that LG has the first and only 4K displays in these sizes with the nano technology. Other 4K sets on the market, including Sony’s and LG’s own 84-incher, employ edge-lit local dimming.
RELATED: Reviews of LG’s 84-inch 4K TV and Sony’s 84-inch 4K TV.
LG offers a couple of other unique features, including a built-in Skype camera that pops up from the bezel, and a sliding speaker that drops down from the TV.
The Skype camera is nice (not $1,000 nice) but the drop-down speaker is pretty hokey—even though, I confess, it was the first thing I wanted to see. The 50-watt, 4.1-channel speaker slides down when the TV is turned on, and retracts when you hit the “off” button.
The thing is so discreet in the “on” position that you might wonder why LG bothered to motorize it. But I won’t question their research department which “met a lot of key retailers out there,” Lee says. “One of most common feedback is the sliding bar is a wow factor.”
The LG sets look a heck of a lot sleeker than their Sony counterparts, which have awesome but intrusive speakers attached to the left and right of the smaller sets – a feature I adore but most dealers abhor, they tell me.
Finally, LG has future-proofed its new sets with H.265, the next-gen digital encoding scheme that will succeed H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.
What LG does not give you – and Sony does—is content. Sony’s 55- and 65-inch sets come with “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray discs of Spider-Man (2002), Ghostbusters and Angels & Demons. Plus, Sony has a 4K content delivery machine in its new FMP-X1 4K Ultra HD Media Player. And, of course, Sony gives you the really fine speakers if (like me), that’s your thing.
Also Check Out:
Sony 4K Ultra HD Media Player Coming July 15
Watch Four 1080p Shows at Once with Planar 4K TV
Theater Renovation Heats up Once-Frigid Room with 4K Images
Get Your Fill of 4K Indie Films with REDRAY
A Bargain Price Ultra HD TV: Is it Worth It?
Sony’s New 4K Ultra HD TVs Start at $4,999
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.