MIAMI (CNET) — One of the biggest buzzwords to emerge from this year’s CES was 4K, which is pinned as the next consumer resolution after 1080p. But after a promising beginning we haven’t heard much about actual products since then.

CBS-owned CNET reports that, while Toshiba’s 4K screen has quietly slipped off the radar, it appears LG’s 84-inch LM9600 is still on track for release this year. In fact it could be available as early as September, which would make it the first 4K TV available for sale in the U.S.

The LG 84LM9600 will have a resolution of 3,840×2,160 pixels, aka the consumer version of 4K, since it’s four times the number of pixels employed by garden-variety 1080p TVs (1,920×1,080). For its part, LG calls the resolution “UD” for “ultra-definition,” making this a (wait for it) “UDTV.”

When it ships, this monster will actually be only the second-largest flat-panel size widely available to the public. Sharp’s 90-inch LC-90LE745U is the biggest, although it has “only” 1080p resolution.

That difference begs the question: is 4K worthwhile in and of itself, or are the benefits of all those extra pixels even visible from normal seating distances? We won’t know for sure until we can test it out in person, but let’s just say we’re quite skeptical. Geoff Morrison’s “Why 4K TVs are stupid” lays out the reasons.

One such reason is lack of 4K content. Apart from one movie, native 4K content is basically nonexistent. To improve the appearance of normal 720p, 1080i, and 1080p high-def, not to mention sources like Internet video and standard-def, on such a high-resolution screen, LG has employed a technology called Resolution Upscaler Plus. Even if the upconversion to 4K is excellent, however, we don’t expect the extra resolution to have much impact for 2D material.

4K may improve the look of passive 3D, however. Current passive 3D TVs by LG, Vizio, and Toshiba use a film pattern retarder (FPR) system that essentially sends half of the 1080p resolution to each eye, which can cause some jagged-line artifacts and visible line structure in our experience. A 4K TV like the 84LM9600 has double the vertical resolution, so it’s capable of sending full 1080p to each eye even with an FPR system.

We’re curious to see how it works since this system comes closest to the ideal of passive glasses with full resolution to each eye (more info). LG has yet to announce whether the expanded resolution of the TV actually supports 1080p line passive, but it will reveal more details at next week’s CEDIA event.

The TV shares a series name with the 2012 LM9600 Nano line of full-array local-dimming LED TVs, but unlike those direct-lit TVs, it is edge-lit. Otherwise, it shares those models’ feature sets, including the four-way Magic Motion remote with voice control and LG’s redesigned Smart TV suite.

Official pricing and availability have not been announced yet, but we expect to get both from LG as early as August 29.

LG 84LM9600 features:

  • 84-inch LED-based LCD TV
  • 3,840×2,160-pixel native resolution (4K)
  • Passive 3D compatible
  • Smart TV with Magic Motion remote


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