Two years ago, Seiki challenged major display manufacturers like Sony and LG when it introduced a 50-inch Ultra HD television for only $1500 at a time when the competition was asking $5000 for pretty much the same thing. Of course, it was a bare-bones TV without any connectivity features or even 60 Hz operation, but many consumers put them in their living rooms and some users even pressed them into service as computer monitors.
At CES 2015, Seiki introduced two new computer-specific monitors with the SM32UNP and SM40UNP 32- and 40-inch Ultra HD displays.
We've been hoping to see VA technology and 4K in the same product, and it looks like Seiki is the first to provide it. VA, which stands for "Vertical Alignment," promises the color quality and wide viewing angles of IPS but with significantly higher contrast. In our last review of a VA screen, BenQ's BL3200PT, we measured almost two-and-a-half times the contrast ratio of the next-best IPS monitor. That's mainly thanks to deep black levels, which make images look more three-dimensional while retaining excellent shadow detail in the darkest content.
High contrast makes the most impact on gaming and movie-watching. You know how blacks often look grayish and flat on most computer monitors. VA comes much closer to a high-quality HDTV's greater image depth, and in our experience, color accuracy can be at or near the professional level.
Whether Seiki can deliver that kind of accuracy in a budget screen remains to be seen, but we are hopeful. The SM32UNP and SM40UNP also offer 350cd/m2 brightness, 12-bit color depth, HDMI 1.4 (upgrading to 2.0 in Q2), DisplayPort 1.2 (going to 1.3 in Q2) and up to four sources in its picture-by-picture mode. 60 Hz operation is supported over DisplayPort at the outset. Also included is a four-port USB 3.0 hub. Initial availability will be in Q1 at an as-yet undisclosed price.
Muse Streaming Media Service
Remember the Ultra HD TV mentioned above? Seiki has not left that line alone. For 2015 it's adding connectivity in the form of its Muse Streaming Media Service. Added to both its HD and Ultra HD TV lines, it will bring in popular services such as Netflix, YouTube, VUDU and others.
Seiki now markets Ultra HD TVs in 40-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch sizes, and all will incorporate Muse by the second quarter of 2015. Muse is also being added to Seiki's HD line in 32-, 40-, 42-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch sizes in Q1. The Ultra HD models will come with HDMI 2.0 connections for full 60 Hz support at a resolution of 3840 x 2160. Networking is possible either through a wired Ethernet jack or built-in WiFi.
No pricing has been announced yet, but we expect Seiki to undercut the major display companies by a significant amount.