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TCL unveils ludicrously cheap Ultra HD TV series, new 85-inch giant

Chinese TV manufacturer TCL is lowering the bar again when it comes to Ultra HD/4K TV pricing. The company today unveiled a stable of new UHD models for the U.S. market, including the price-busting, rub-your-eyes-to-make-sure-it’s-true 49-inch UE5700, which will be available for $600 when it debuts in the 4th quarter of this year. In all, TCL has showcased 5 new models to add to the rapidly expanding UHD landscape, priced from $500 at the low end, to $8,000 for its new 85-inch patriarch.

UE5700 series

There are two new models available in the UE5700 series, including the $600 49-inch set, and an even more affordable $500 40-inch model. While the size of the new displays scrapes the bottom of the UHD spectrum – arguably smaller than necessary to reap the full benefits of the next-gen resolution – both models are priced remarkably low for the genre.

Features for the TVs include 4 HDMI inputs with the latest 2.0 spec, 120Hz native refresh rate, and 4K upscaling to bring lower definition content up to the higher resolution. Blatantly left out of the equation is smart TV interface. As such, TCL is marketing its new ‘dumb’ UHD TVs to “gamers, photographers, designers, or people that get streaming content from an external device.”

UH9500 series

Stepping up to TCL’s UH9500 series offers all the latest specifications available in the UHD field, including Wi-Fi with HEVC decoding (necessary for the latest 60 frame per second 4K streaming), HDMI 2.0, 4K upscaling, and a 1.2 Ghz Dual-Core processor, and an ultra-slim bezel. The UH9500 series will come in 2 base models, the $800 55-inch, and the $1,300 65-inch, both of which are still priced extremely low for the current market.

And for those looking for titanic size, the 85UH9500 offers 85-inches of UHD real estate. Moving to the mondo size offers some added benefits, including a 240Hz native refresh rate (double its smaller siblings), as well as a dual 15-watt Dolby Digital Surround system on board, a  “premium metallic design,” and a chrome stand. The rest of the specs match up with the smaller models. Going big will cost you, however, even with TCL, which prices the 85-inch model at $8,000, only two grand beneath Samsung’s newly released 85-inch HU8550. The price wars for massive screens are definitely heating up.

As the self-proclaimed “third best-selling TV brand in the world,” TCL and its main Chinese competitor, Hisense, are waging a war to capture the U.S. TV market from the iron grips of South Korean rivals LG, and Samsung. Their biggest weapon has been insanely low prices, and with this latest surge of Ultra HD TVs, mass adoption of the genre appears to be just around the corner.

Processing for Chinese displays, which is really at the heart of what makes a TV look good, hasn’t stood up to their Korean counterparts in our eyes thus far. But the budget brands seem to be making strides with each generation, and may be on the verge of competing with their stalwart rivals in the U.S. in quality, as well as pricing.

It will be interesting to see how TCL’s latest lineup is received in the competitive U.S. marketplace.  We’ll keep you posted as official release dates are announced, as well as trying to pull-in one of these new TCL’s for ourselves to see how they hold up when the rubber meets the road.

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