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Ultra HD TVs have ultra-high price

USA Today/MCT--High-definition TVs have officially graduated to Ultra HD.

The first Ultra high-definition flat panel displays in the U.S. go on sale this week in Los Angeles. The 84-inch LED TV from LG Electronics delivers four times the resolution of current HD TVs and has an ultra-high price tag of US$19,999 to match its impressive images. Sony has its own 84-inch set priced at US$24,999 due in late November or early December.

“As television gets bigger and bigger, we need more lines of resolution and pixels to maintain the picture quality,” said Jay Vandenbree, head of LG's U.S. home entertainment business.

There's enough manufacturer interest in Ultra HD that industry trade group the Consumer Electronics Association last week adopted guidelines for the higher-resolution sets. They must have at least 8 million pixels — four times that of current HD TVs. The more pixels, the sharper the picture display.

The Ultra HD label not only lets shoppers know that a new flavor of HD is available, but also helps ease confusion, said Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and director of research. “You want to make sure consumers understand where the technology fits in,” he said.

There still might be some consumer confusion. Despite the CEA's move, Sony will continue to use the previous high-def designation of “4K,” which refers to the nearly 4,000 horizontal resolution lines, with its upcoming sets, calling their sets “4K UHD.”

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Ultra HD is that currently there's little content available to take advantage of the higher resolution. Similar situations greeted the first HD TVs and color sets.

But most displays, including LG's and Sony's, will convert Blu-ray disc movies to the higher resolution of the larger sets. “What they own today will look great” on the new set, Vandenbree said.

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