LG brings out cheaper Ultra HD sets at $3,499 and $4,999

LG 65-inch LA9650 Ultra HD TV.
LG's 65-inch Ultra HD TV (LA9650) will retail for $4,999; the 55-inch set will go for $3,499.

In time for some holiday wish lists, LG has introduced two less-expensive versions of their ultra high-definition TVs, a 55-inch set for $3,499, and a 65-inch TV for $4,999. The TVs are expected to be available from U.S. retailers this month, LG said Friday.

Last year, LG and Sony were the first manufacturers to start shipping the TVs, which have four times the definition of ordinary HDTV. (Instead of 1920 x 1080, you get 3820 x 2160 — that's 8 million pixels instead of 2 million.) At that time, the companies made 84-inch models with retail prices of between $20,000 and $25,000.

Since then, more brands, including Samsung, Panasonic, Westinghouse and Hisense, have entered the ultra high-def market, with screen sizes ranging from 50 to 110 inches. Prices have been dropping, and will likely to continue to do so as more models like LG's latest are announced.

Gary Merson, editor of HD Guru, notes that UHD sets are the TV equivalent of the iPhone's Retina display screen: "They have pixels so small they are practically invisible, unless you nearly stick your nose up against the screen," he wrote recently.

He also noted that viewers won't get the full benefit of Ultra HD until more movies are available in the format that takes advantage of Ultra HD, and that right now that's not many. But more are on their way, as are TV shows that are filmed in 4K, or Ultra HD.

With its news Friday, LG now offers two different Ultra HD sets, each in 55- and 65-inch sizes. The higher-end sets (LA9700) use a full, LED-backlit array while the newer, less expensive sets (LA9650) is edge-lit, an LG spokesman told NBC News Friday.

In addition, the LA9700 series has a sliding, 50-watt speaker "that descends when you turn it on," while the LA9650 series has a 34-watt forward-facing speaker that is stationary.

LG is dropping its prices on the higher-end LA9700 Ultra HD TVs to $6,499 for the 65-inch set, and $4,499 for the 55-inch model. Oh, and that 84-inch LG Ultra HD TV? It's now going for $16,999, if you're still interested. To learn more, visit LG's site.

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