Vizio is pushing down the price of 4K with its new P-Series televisions.
Pricing starts at $1000 for a 50-inch LED TV, and scales up $2500 for a 70-inch model. Vizio is taking pre-orders through its website, and is selling certain sets through major retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon.
The prices undercut rivals such as Samsung and LG, whose 50-inch 4K televisions both list at $1500. It's unclear whether other companies can match Vizio on pricing, but we might see them inch closer as the holidays approach.
4K, or Ultra HD, has a resolution of at least 3840-by-2160, compared to 1920-by-1080 on most current television sets. The first 4K TVs launched in 2012 for astronomical prices, with 85-inch models selling for upwards of $20,000.
Since then, the price gap between 4K and 1080p has narrowed considerably. For Vizio's 50-inch sets, the 4K P-Series model costs about $300 more than the 1080p M-Series. The price difference jumps to $600 for the 70-inch model. (Beyond the difference in resolution, Vizio's 4K TVs have a greater number of colors and higher contrast ratio than 1080p models, though they also consume about twice as much power.)
Before you upgrade, consider that there still isn't a lot of 4K content available, as cable and satellite TV providers in the United States have yet to carry any 4K video. Netflix has only flipped on 4K for House of Cards and a handful of nature documentaries, and Amazon is expected to follow with some 4K programming later this year, but right now it's slim-pickings.
Even with native 4K content, the difference in picture quality is less pronounced on smaller screen. So while it's easier than ever to splurge on Ultra TV, don't feel like you have to as you shop for your next set.