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Buy Cheap, Buy Twice: The Seiki 2160p UHDTV

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 

When is a bargain not a bargain? "Buy cheap, buy twice" is the nugget of wisdom that guides all of my consumer-electronics purchases. A 2160p UHDTV is at the top of my must-have list, so inevitably I became curious about the 50" Seiki SE50UY04 UHDTV, which sells for a fraction of what other 2160p UHDTV sets cost. According to CNET's first-ever review of a UHDTV, there is a problem with the new 50" Seiki—it's not merely inexpensive, it is truly "cheap."

 

 

For the 50" Seiki, cheap translates to one quarter the cost of the next lowest-priced UHDTV, Sony's 55-inch XBR-55X900A—that's right, the price of admission to the 2160p club is approximately $1200. So, what is this TV good for?

 

Let's start with what it's not good for. Watching Blu-rays, TV, DVD, streaming video, and pretty much anything that is currently available in 1080p or lower resolution. Colors are inaccurate, because it cannot easily be properly calibrated. Evidently colors are not actually that bad, but there are issues with getting them to be accurate with the basic controls accessible through standard menus. 

 

The 50" panel is not good at reproducing deep black levels or shadow details—so it's a bad choice for watching movies. The main reason for this is the use of non-dimming LED edge lighting. It's a 50" inch set, so it's too small to use in a home theater, or even for typical living-room use.

 

Quote:
"Don't get me wrong: I love the idea of a 4K TV that costs a third less than what brand names like Sony are charging. Unfortunately, the one-trick Seiki SE50UY04 can't compete with the multitalented 1080p TVs available today." - CNET

 

A much more reasonable and rational use for the Seiki is PC gaming—with the caveat that the maximum frame rate HDMI 1.4 will support is 30fps, which could present a problem with action games. SimCity fans should be in heaven.

 

The panel performed well with video games at 2160p; it's performance in this regard was clearly the high point of the CNET review. When next-generation video game consoles that output UHD signals hit the market later this year, the 50" Seiki could very well be a popular option for a dedicated gaming rig. I can also see it being popular for general computing, because the SE50UY04 really is a giant computer monitor that happens to have a built-in TV tuner.

 

Quote:
"At about 4 feet, the closest I could hack it, the image was sumptuous, with an unreal sharpness to the graphics, like the clothing and textured straw hat of the guy getting a shoeshine on the Options page. I flipped back and forth between that and 1080p and the difference was obvious -- 4K looked much smoother and more detailed, while 1080p from this distance appeared with jagged edges and much less overall crispness." - CNET

 

CNET's review is a stern warning against considering the Seiki panel for anything but dedicated videogame play and perhaps general computing. I see it as a boon to stock traders, who typically have four or six monitors at their desks. The bargain panel simply does not perform as well as a modest 1080p HDTV when displaying 1080p content. It does not have the image quality of less expensive yet larger 1080p televisions. The 50" Seiki may be the least expensive UHDTV out there, and it may be the first 2160p TV CNET has ever reviewed, but it also is also the wrong choice for anyone looking to improve their overall viewing experience, especially when it comes to 1080p content. 

 

Quote:
"As usual, the differences in color, black level, and other areas were much more obvious than differences in apparent sharpness and resolution." - CNET

 

As long as the prospective buyer understands the severe limitations of this panel—which is why it is so inexpensive compared to the competition—then perhaps "buy cheap, buy twice" is actually an appealing approach. Caveat emptor, folks.


Edited by imagic - 5/9/13 at 11:48am
post #2 of 52
Let me correct some things here that exactly correct based on other reports about this panel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Let's start with what it's not good for. Watching Blu-rays, TV, DVD, streaming video, and pretty much anything that is currently available in 1080p or lower resolution. Colors are inaccurate, because it cannot be properly calibrated. The 50" panel is not good at reproducing deep black levels or shadow details—so it's a bad choice for watching movies. It's a 50" inch set, so it's too small to use in a home theater, or even for typical living-room use.
Many people have good result with watching 1080p movies upconverted with a Oppo BD player. Only problem seems to be with the HDMI connection originating in the Oppo player. Oppo is working on resolving this.

As for color calibrating. You can not expect to get perfect colors on a <$1500 TV. A whole batch went for $1099 a piece the other day.
And anybody that think that those "calibrating discs" can reach any level of calibration is rather naive.
In addition to use a 1080p disc for calibrating a UHD TV and complain that it doesn't resolve all lines etc. is just stupid.
Particularly when the TV like the Seiki doesn't have an up-conversion processor and just do "pixel doubling" to utilise the whole screen.
A fact that the CNET reviewer doesn't seem to have understood.

Better result is obtainable by enterin into the service menue and use proper calibrator tools.

Here are a couple of reports from someone who did Pro-Calibration of the Seiki 50" UHD TV;
Quote:
The other cool thing we did this afternoon is get our favourite color calibrator to come in and tweak the SEIKI ... David Webb is a genius when it comes to accurately profiling plasmas, LCDs and OLEDS ... he works with all the big post houses in LA ... David quickly got his spectroradiometer into action and put up his charts .... the bad news is that the panel is not perfect but the good news is that for the price point it is pretty damn good! .... the colorimetry is actually surprisingly accurate ... once David had finished tweaking the SEIKI and we put up the EPIC footage in Resolve in full screen we both took a deep breath and said WOW ... not that you'd do mission critical color grading on this monitor but as an accurate 4K client monitor that's dialed in to what you're seeing on your grading monitor it is pretty damn sweet.
Quote:
As mentioned the other day, we had our 4K SEIKI UHD TV calibrated by our regular calibration guru and it came up amazingly well after he had dialed in the controls in the service menu ... yesterday I showed the calibrated panel playing a 3840x2180 uncompressed Quicktime to two colorists (whose opinions I totally respect) and they both scratched their heads in surprise and said it looked remarkably good ... and these guys have no reason to BS ... as well as doing color correction on paying gigs they both teach color classes at prestigious film schools.
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

CNET's review is a stern warning against considering the Seiki panel for anything but dedicated videogame play, and perhaps general computing.  
I see no stern warning from the clumsy CNET reviewer, neither of what you quote nor in the full review, so I don't get where you have that from.
He doesn't once mention the restrictions on HDMI for 4K material and totally miss that HDMI doesn't pass more than 30Hz.

It is a low price TV even if it is UHD, what do one expect? Seems to be surprisingly good for this price, particularly compared to the $20.000 LG and Sony and the $39000 Samsung. (I know some of that price is high because of size, but we have nothing smaller to compare to yet.)
Quote:
As long as the prospective buyer understands the severe limitations of this panel—which is why it is so inexpensive compared to the competition—then perhaps "buy cheap, buy twice" is actually an appealing approach. Caveat emptor, folks.
Somebody launched the Tag; "Disposable 4K". for this price-point UHD display. wink.gif
For anybody that are into photo or film and have longed for a 4K resolution monitor, this Seiki seems quite useful as a entry level 4K monitor at this price. And remarkable good for movie watching from an 4K>up-converting BD player or PC.

Seiki will soon release a 55" and a 65" UHD TV. The smallest UHD panels that will come from China in the future seems to be 39", which would be very nice size for a PC monitor.
Edited by coolscan - 5/9/13 at 9:36am
post #3 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolscan View Post

Let me correct some things here that exactly correct based on other reports about this panel.
Many people have good result with watching 1080p movies upconverted with a Oppo BD player. Only problem seems to be with the HDMI connection originating in the Oppo player. Oppo is working on resolving this.

As for color calibrating. You can not expect to get perfect colors on a <$1500 TV and anybody that think that those "calibrating discs" can reach any level of calibration is rather naive.
In addition to use a 1080p disc for calibrating a UHD TV and complain that it doesn't resolve all lines etc. is just stupid.
Particularly when the TV like the Seiki doesn't have an up-conversion processor and just do "pixel doubling" to utilise the whole screen.
A fact that the CNET reviewer doesn't seem to have understood.

Better result is obtainable by enterin into the service menue and use proper calibrator tools.

Here are a couple of reports from someone who did Pro-Calibration of the Seiki 50" UHD TV;


I see no stern warning from the clumsy CNET reviewer, neither of what you quote nor in the full review, so I don't get where you have that from.
He doesn't once mention the restrictions on HDMI for 4K material and totally miss that HDMI doesn't pass more than 30Hz.

It is a low price TV even if it is UHD, what do one expect? Seems to be surprisingly good for this price, particularly compared to the $20.000 LG and Sony and the $39000 Samsung. (I know some of that price is high because of size, but we have nothing smaller to compare to yet.)
Somebody launched the Tag; "Disposable 4K". wink.gif
For anybody that are into photo or film and have longed for a 4K resolution monitor, this Seiki seems quite useful as a monitor. And remarkable good for movie watching from an 4K>up-converting BD player or PC.

Seiki will soon release a 55" and a 65" UHD TV. The smallest UHD panels that will come from China in the future seems to be 39", which would be very nice size for a PC monitor.

 

 
"The only two groups who might get their money's worth purchasing those extra pixels are computer gamers with high-end rigs, a close seat, and a singular thirst for resolution; and cutting-edge tech fiends who want a 4K TV, any 4K TV, badly enough that this set's downsides don't matter to them."—CNET
 
That is all I mean by stern warning—just a figure of speech.
 
I'm confident that you can do better with color accuracy by calibrating a <$1500 Panasonic plasma, such as the ST60 series, which sells for $1299 at 50" But maybe I'm wrong. I'd like to be wrong about that, it's just a guess.
 
I am personally tempted by the promise of a UHDTV at an affordable price, even with all the caveats. I bet they dip to under a grand for the 50" by the time the PS4 comes out, in which case I could easily see myself winding up with one—for gaming and general PC use.

Edited by imagic - 5/9/13 at 9:44am
post #4 of 52
So a 50" is too small for typical living room use? But is suggested to be used for a computer monitor?

Also, why would someone need to buy this TV twice if the image quality is the only thing really in question? Wouldn't this "cheap" TV look just as bad the second time you bought it?

It almost feels that this TV is too inexpensive for some to give it a chance.
post #5 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louquid View Post

So a 50" is too small for typical living room use? But is suggested to be used for a computer monitor?

Also, why would someone need to buy this TV twice if the image quality is the only thing really in question? Wouldn't this "cheap" TV look just as bad the second time you bought it?

It almost feels that this TV is too inexpensive for some to give it a chance.

 

Typical users sit much closer to a computer monitor than they do to a living room TV. Because gamers sit closer, the screen looks bigger and it is easier to see the extra detail. With a 50 inch television in the living room, the idea is that you can get a higher quality screen— in terms of black levels and also in terms of video processing— for the same money, with a 1080p unit.
 
The meaning of "buy cheap, buy twice" is that after buying something cheap, you realize you should've bought something of higher quality all along. So you buy that higher-quality item, and the cheap item becomes obsolete. The net effect is that buying the right item ends up costing more than it should have, because you bought something cheap first.
post #6 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Typical users sit much closer to a computer monitor than they do to a living room TV. Because gamers sit closer, the screen looks bigger and it is easier to see the extra detail. With a 50 inch television in the living room, the idea is that you can get a higher quality screen— in terms of black levels and also in terms of video processing— for the same money, with a 1080p unit.
 
The meaning of "buy cheap, buy twice" is that after buying something cheap, you realize you should've bought something of higher quality all along. So you buy that higher-quality item, and the cheap item becomes obsolete. The net effect is that buying the right item ends up costing more than it should have, because you bought something cheap first.

I've found the ideal computer monitor size is no more than 30" or so. Anything larger than that and you're having to move your head more than you should, while not actually gaining anything with the larger screen. I have a 50" in my living room and I've always used it as my computer monitor. I sit about 8 feet away and I can't imagine sitting any closer when playing games or doing general PC work. I think my neck would tired really quickly.

Most would agree that a 50" Plasma will typically provide a much better picture quality, black levels, video processing, for much less money than a 50" LED/LCD TV. But that hasn't stopped the average consumer from buying mostly LED TV's now. In that sense I can see how this TV will have no problem selling to the average consumer. I understand most average consumers don't visit this site though.

Ah ok. I took "buy cheap, buy twice" as to mean "disposable". Where once this cheap TV breaks down in a year, you'd have no problem with buying the same TV again because it's so cheap. I've bought cheap only to need to upgrade sooner than I expected. I'm starting to take the elevator approach to many situation where I would normally take the stairs. You really can/do save money this way.

Still, I bet this TV isn't as bad as it's being made out to be. For all we know the issues faced with this TV may be more a "4K" TV matter rather than something wrong with this particular model. We're simply too new to the whole thing, I think.
post #7 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Louquid View Post


I've found the ideal computer monitor size is no more than 30" or so. Anything larger than that and you're having to move your head more than you should, while not actually gaining anything with the larger screen. I have a 50" in my living room and I've always used it as my computer monitor. I sit about 8 feet away and I can't imagine sitting any closer when playing games or doing general PC work. I think my neck would tired really quickly.

Most would agree that a 50" Plasma will typically provide a much better picture quality, black levels, video processing, for much less money than a 50" LED/LCD TV. But that hasn't stopped the average consumer from buying mostly LED TV's now. In that sense I can see how this TV will have no problem selling to the average consumer. I understand most average consumers don't visit this site though.

Ah ok. I took "buy cheap, buy twice" as to mean "disposable". Where once this cheap TV breaks down in a year, you'd have no problem with buying the same TV again because it's so cheap. I've bought cheap only to need to upgrade sooner than I expected. I'm starting to take the elevator approach to many situation where I would normally take the stairs. You really can/do save money this way.

Still, I bet this TV isn't as bad as it's being made out to be. For all we know the issues faced with this TV may be more a "4K" TV matter rather than something wrong with this particular model. We're simply too new to the whole thing, I think.

 

That's not the case as far as the image quality goes—it's not related to the resolution, it's related to the cheap panel. If the TV featured local dimming and an IPS panel, it would be much a better option than it is. It seems like one of the main problems with the Seiki is that it uses non-dimming LED edge lighting.
 
Sitting 8 feet away from a 50 inch TV is an atypical way to use a computer. But in the end, you're just talking about ergonomics and your own personal preference. Quite a few people like immersive viewing. I am 6 feet from my 55 inch when I watch movies and about 4 feet when I use it as a computer monitor. I truly wish it was 2160p.
 
If you know in doing, if you can calibrate a TV—including use of service menus—and you have an external device that can perform image scaling at high quality level, then it could be a viable option for some applications.

Edited by imagic - 5/9/13 at 10:40am
post #8 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

That's not the case as far as the image quality goes—it's not related to the resolution, it's related to the cheap panel. If the TV featured local dimming and an IPS panel, it would be much a better option than it is.
 
Sitting 8 feet away from a 50 inch TV is an atypical way to use a computer. But in the end, you're just talking about ergonomics and your own personal preference. Quite a few people like immersive viewing. I am 6 feet from my 55 inch when I watch movies and about 4 feet when I use it as a computer monitor. I truly wish it was 2160p.

Well what is the panel lacking that a more expensive one would include? Besides local dimming. I've never spent much time learning about displays.

Sitting 8 feet away from the 50" does present problems while reading some text. I will admit to that. But, when it comes to gaming and working from my computer, it's nearly ideal for me. I could really see the benefits of having a 60" TV rather than a 50". I can also see the benefit of having a higher resolution, so I am looking forward to that. Just need this one to break first. Ha.

I am farsighted so I need to sit a bit farther from a computer monitor than the average person.
post #9 of 52
The one thing I would not buy this Seiki for would be gaming, because you will never get any more than 30Hz through the HDMI 1.4a port.
Hopefully the Seiki people have noticed this in the feedbacks and put in something like a Display port in their 55" or 65", or even in the next batch of the 50". Then they would sell an enormous amount of these panels to gamers.

Look at the Amazon feedback for Seiki HD TVs they have been selling for years and notice they are quite robust quality wise.
Or look here in this post for one experience.

Edit; corrected missing word.
Edited by coolscan - 5/10/13 at 3:31am
post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolscan View Post

The one thing I would buy this Seiki for would be gaming because you will never get any more than 30Hz through the HDMI 1.4a port.
Hopefully the Seiki people have noticed this in the feedbacks and put in something like a Display port in their 55" or 65", or even in the next batch of the 50". Then they would sell an enormous amount of these panels to gamers.

Look at the Amazon feedback for Seiki HD TVs they have been selling for years and notice they are quite robust quality wise.
Or look here in this post for one experience.

I'm guessing that's a typo and you meant "wouldn't"—and that is absolutely true for any game that demands high frame rates. I updated the piece to reflect that fact.

 

I would also like to see DisplayPort adapters on every UHDTV.


Edited by imagic - 5/9/13 at 11:10am
post #11 of 52
If this was a 30"-35" low lag input, high quality 4k unit at $1500, I'd be trowing my $$ at them for this.
post #12 of 52
Any secrets on how to get into the Seiki Service Menu?
While there, what calibrating Options do you have?
Edited by p5browne - 5/9/13 at 3:32pm
post #13 of 52
http://www.heronfidelity.com/blog/2013/4/30/review-seiki-4k-led-tv.html

"Menu on the remote followed by 0000 (four zeros)"
post #14 of 52
Yeah not interested, for now anyways.. down the road I'm sure I'll be.. but just not a seiki
post #15 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by p5browne View Post

Any secrets on how to get into the Seiki Service Menu?
While there, what calibrating Options do you have?
Pictures of the content of the service menu; Here.

Some manual adjustment advise; Here.

New software update found here, fixes some HDMI sync problems; http://www.seiki.com/

This is supposedly the panel; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-KS1

Chimei seems also to manufacture a very similar panel but with 3D; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-LS1 (guess that one will show up in some product soon too)
post #16 of 52
I'm a stock trader, so this is of interest to me. Upside is that you get rid of all the bezels of the multiple screens I use. Downside is that it is one big FLAT screen, so you can't wrap the screens around you in a semicircle..like this \_/ for that immersive stock trading experience. ;-)
post #17 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by easycruise View Post

I'm a stock trader, so this is of interest to me. Upside is that you get rid of all the bezels of the multiple screens I use. Downside is that it is one big FLAT screen, so you can't wrap the screens around you in a semicircle..like this \_/ for that immersive stock trading experience. ;-)

That'd be a pretty sweet setup ! cool.gif
post #18 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolscan View Post

Pictures of the content of the service menu; Here.

Some manual adjustment advise; Here.

New software update found here, fixes some HDMI sync problems; http://www.seiki.com/

This is supposedly the panel; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-KS1

Chimei seems also to manufacture a very similar panel but with 3D; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-LS1 (guess that one will show up in some product soon too)

The seiki is confirmed to be using the ls1 panel with 3d the model number of the panel is in the service menu.
post #19 of 52
"It's a 50" inch set, so it's too small to use in a home theater, or even for typical living-room use."


What on earth? Who wrote this article? Joe Kane?
post #20 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WebEffect View Post

"It's a 50" inch set, so it's too small to use in a home theater, or even for typical living-room use."


What on earth? Who wrote this article? Joe Kane?

I wrote it; it's a statement meant to be taken in context. I'm not saying that 50 inch televisions are all too small for home theater or typical living-room use. I'm saying that for the money you can buy a considerably better television for that application, and that 1080p resolution would not be an issue at those distances.

 

It's a matter of what's appropriate for the resolution. And I certainly would argue that a 50 inch set is inappropriate for home theater use, in this day and age where excellent 65" sets are a grand—unless the home theater consists of a three seat sofa, at the maximum. 

 

Joe Kane claimed that a 55" inch set can't even fully exploit 1080p, no matter how close you observed it. I certainly made no such claim—I disagreed with Joe's contentions.

post #21 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolscan View Post

Pictures of the content of the service menu; Here.

Some manual adjustment advise; Here.

New software update found here, fixes some HDMI sync problems; http://www.seiki.com/

This is supposedly the panel; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-KS1

Chimei seems also to manufacture a very similar panel but with 3D; Panelook; Chimei Innolux V500DK1-LS1 (guess that one will show up in some product soon too)

Would be interesting to see what turning the DCC Control to On in the Video Quality Service Menu would accomplish
post #22 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by WebEffect View Post

"It's a 50" inch set, so it's too small to use in a home theater, or even for typical living-room use."


What on earth? Who wrote this article? Joe Kane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I wrote it; it's a statement meant to be taken in context. I'm not saying that 50 inch televisions are all too small for home theater or typical living-room use. I'm saying that for the money you can buy a considerably better television for that application, and that 1080p resolution would not be an issue at those distances.

It's a matter of what's appropriate for the resolution. And I certainly would argue that a 50 inch set is inappropriate for home theater use, in this day and age where excellent 65" sets are a grand—unless the home theater consists of a three seat sofa, at the maximum. 

Joe Kane claimed that a 55" inch set can't even fully exploit 1080p, no matter how close you observed it. I certainly made no such claim—I disagreed with Joe's contentions.


LOL now that's funny tongue.gif

It's true people define "Home Teather" in various ways..
post #23 of 52
I'd be more concerned about the build quality of this set. When well know, name brand sets are going for $20,000, what kind of components could be used to produce a $1,500 dollar version? eek.gif Should probably spring for that extended warranty.
post #24 of 52
Patience grasshoppers...by the time 2160p actually becomes important and any real amount of native resolution content becomes available, the prices of the more premium sets will have come down.
post #25 of 52
If only it had 3D - would be a great toy to play with, just to see how good you can get it to look.

Still no reply as to what the DCC Control in the Video Quality Service Menu does if it's turned ON - further calibration adjustments?

Good price in Canada right now with Free Shipping.
Edited by p5browne - 5/12/13 at 2:57pm
post #26 of 52
Would like to have read how Upconversion through a receiver like a Denon AVR A100 or Onkyo 3010/5010 would compare to that of the TV.
post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin. W View Post

Would like to have read how Upconversion through a receiver like a Denon AVR A100 or Onkyo 3010/5010 would compare to that of the TV.

TV doesn't upconvert, you have to have a Blu-ray like the Sony 790, which is currently getting along better with it. Or, the OPPO 103, or an upconverting AVR.

Dang, missed the Groupon $1199 deal!
post #28 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin. W View Post

Would like to have read how Upconversion through a receiver like a Denon AVR A100 or Onkyo 3010/5010 would compare to that of the TV.

I gather that aside from (somewhat/relatively) poor black levels and weak shadow rendition—that is intrinsic to an LED edge that panel—the video scaler is one of the main flaws of the unit. Using a higher-end outboard video scaler, like you find on flagship receivers, should yield better results. I would be very interested to see those kinds of tests.

post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I gather that aside from (somewhat/relatively) poor black levels and weak shadow rendition—that is intrinsic to an LED edge that panel—the video scaler is one of the main flaws of the unit. Using a higher-end outboard video scaler, like you find on flagship receivers, should yield better results. I would be very interested to see those kinds of tests.

Appears quite a few of these are being sold!
Holding on to see if there will be another price drop again.
Was going to use a spare iScan Duo I have here, but that's out since it only passes 3D, not 4K. Was figuring on the off board taking care of the limited calibrating system. Hmm, maybe run the Duo through the Sony 790 - problem, it only upconverts what it's playing, not what's passing through!
Edited by p5browne - 5/12/13 at 8:56pm
post #30 of 52
I guess almost anything can be fixed or improved if you throw enough money at it.
But doesn't that defeat the purpose of buying a bargain in the first place?
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