Boasting a picture four times as clear as a 1080p, 4K resolution is the next great leap in home media. Right now, there's little content for equipped TV sets to take total advantage of the technology, but by next summer, there will be movies and a few sporting events broadcast in the resolution. What's more, smartphones and action cameras like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and GoPro HD Hero 3 can shoot video in 4K and there are plenty of ultra-resolution videos online. In other words, it's a safe bet that within the next couple of years, the technology will take over living rooms across the country
Like anything outfitted with emerging technology, 4K TV sets are extremely expensive. That's why we were surprised to see the Seiki SE39Uy04 39-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED TV, which costs a mere $699 for the 39-inch model (available in 39-, 50-, 55- and 65-inches). The TV is an excellent investment for anyone looking for a new living room set.
At 7.9 inches deep, the Seiki isn't nearly as svelte as the ultrathin HD TVs on the market. No matter: Everything we watched on the Seiki appeared in colorful, crisp, hyper-realistic detail. In one 4K video we tried out, a person was shown speaking on the phone. Every line of her face and bump on her skin appeared as though she was standing next to us. A photo shoot we took of a model, shot with a Canon Mark II at 4K resolution, showed the individual flakes of the subject's eyelashes and strands of hair with incredible detail, even at 100 percent zoom. The Blu-Ray movies we watched, too, appeared more vibrant and lifelike than on your average HD screen.
The one setback? To play 4K movies, you need a fast computer with a high-end graphics card. That will change when the first 4K players hit the market next year. (Sony already makes the 4K Ultra HD Media Player for $700, but it only works with Sony 4K televisions.) That shouldn't deter you: The Seiki is priced right, looks great, and preps you for the future. [From $699; seiki.com]