My buddy Geoff Morrison — former editor-in-chief at Home Entertainment; contributor to Sound+Vision, CNET, and Wire Cutter; author of last year’s sci-fi romance novel Undersea (edited and executive produced by yours truly) — has written what I think may be the consumer electronics industry’s first professional review of the most talked-about TV of the year: Seiki’s $1400 SE50UY04 4K set. We’ve seen first impressions from video technicians already, and even a great video unboxing and overview from the guys at PC Perspective, but with years of reviewing TVs and projectors under his belt, Geoff has the chops to put the TV through its paces and compare it to other displays on the market in a way that really cuts straight to the heart of what makes the SE50UY04 tick.
As you’ve probably guessed, the SE50UY04 is a stripped down model. How stripped? Well, there are no smart TV features, no 3D, very limited picture adjustment options, limited scaling/processing, and none of the fancy gesture/voice/thought control nonsense of other 2013 TVs.
In theory, I like the idea of a “dumb monitor” TV. Roku and Apple TV streaming boxes are cheap and fantastic. I don’t care about 3D, and I can I never touch my TV’s remote anyway. However, the lack of decent processing is a bit of a concern.
While a Seiki-provided video server did give Geoff plenty of Ultra HD demo material to ooo and ahh over, less-than-pristine source material revealed some of the display’s shortcomings:
From a limited, strictly resolution-based subjective assessment, Ultra HD on the Seiki is pretty awesome. It’s a lot like the first time I saw HD, in the long ago times of 2000. There is that “window into a world” aspect that is undeniably cool.
This is, of course, with pristine 4K content, of which there is basically none in the real world. I think we all have taken for granted how good TV processing has become, at least from the Tier 1 TV companies. If you send the Seiki a great 1080p signal, it looks OK. Anything worse, like the always ugly Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s a soft smeary mess. I’m sure many people will give it a pass on processing performance, because of the price. I suppose that’s a valid argument, but what you’re saying is that the Seiki really isn’t a $1,400 TV, because you have to get something with it for it to look right.
There’s more — much more — including his experiences using the SE50UY04 as a gaming monitor, impressions of its motion-handling capabilities, contrast, and more, so head over to HD Guru and check out the full review.