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Ultra HD TVs See Price-Cutting Chain Reaction

NEW YORK – It’s common practice for pricing on new consumer electronics technologies to come down fast and dramatically, but the Ultra High-Definition TV category may be setting a new record if recent price moves by top-line manufacturers are any indicator.

Sony, Samsung, LG and Sharp all revealed Ultra HD TV price cuts and/ or new model introductions at lower price thresholds in recent days.

Most of the manufacturers cited competitive price moves and improved production efficiencies as driving the price reductions.

The TV makers are also competing against a couple of Chinese manufacturers including Seiki and TCL, which have announced prices starting less than $2,000 and $1,000, respectively, for smallerscreen 4K products.

Sony notified dealers about Ultra HD price cuts it was making on Aug. 25. Sony reduced the unilateral pricing policy (UPP) tickets on its 55-inch XBR- 55X900A by $1,000, to $3,999, and its 65-inch XBR-65X900A by $1,500, to $5,499.

Sony also introduced two 4K Ultra HD LCD TVs in the same 65- and 55-inch screen sizes, but minus the elaborate onboard sound system of the X900A series.

Those models, the XBR-65X850A and the XBR- 55X850A, are available for online and for pre-order now at UPPs of $4,999 and $3,499, respectively.

“Margins will remain the same, as far as percentage,” a Sony dealer told TWICE.

Asked to confirm the prices, Sony Electronics president and COO Phil Molyneux said, “Sony takes the leadership position seriously and with the advent of our Video Unlimited 4K download service going live, we wish to bring these amazing experiences to more consumer homes.”

Samsung followed Sony by significantly dropping UPP prices on its F9000-series TVs Aug. 25.

Retailers said Samsung’s UN55F9000 55-inch Ultra HD now carries a $4,499 UPP tag, which is a $1,000 reduction from the previously listed price on Amazon. The 65-inch UN65F900 model was reduced to a $5,999 UPP – a more than $1,500 reduction.

Samsung’s UPP, which is now a commonly exercised practice by most top-line TV manufacturers, prevents dealers from promoting or selling products at lower prices.

All of the mentioned Ultra HD TVs are LCD flat-panel displays with LED edge or back lighting and offer roughly four times the resolution level of today’s most common FullHD 1080p displays.

Similarly, LG also got into the price cutting action after releasing a statement from Korea on plans to soon introduce new less-featured 55- and 65- inch Ultra HD TVs, but the company was not commenting on whether or not those plans included U.S. distribution.

LG Electronics’ corporate parent said it planned to roll out two more Ultra HD TVs in the 55-inch and 65- inch screen sizes – the 55LA9650 and 65LA9650, respectively.

Unlike the 55LA9700 and 65LA9700 models currently available in the United States, the new models will step down to a 2.1-channel internal sound systems, from 4.1-channel audio available now; will have slightly wider bezel designs; and will drop the built-in camera.

According to LG, the 65LA9650 will be priced at $6,999 and the 55LA9650 will be $4,999. Availability dates were not disclosed.

On the U.S. side, LG responded to Sony’s and Samsung’s moves by cutting the prices on its current 55- and 65-inch 4K LCD TV models.

The UPP adjustments have reduced the tickets of the 55-inch 55LA9700 by $1,000 from $5,999 to $4,999, and the 65-inch 65LA9700 by $1,500 from $7,999 to 6,499.

John Taylor, LG’s corporate communications VP, said the price cuts were made to “keep LG Ultra HD TVs competitive in the marketplace.”

Sharp then responded by slashing the previously announced pricing on its 70- inch Ultra High-Definition TV.

A Sharp spokesperson told TWICE that the 70-inch Sharp Aquos LC- 70UD1U had its previously adjusted manufacturer’s suggested retail price lowered $500 from $7,999 to $7,499, and its new unilateral pricing policy (UPP) retail tag is now set at $5,999, reflecting a $2,000 drop from the UPP originally announced at launch.

A spokesperson said Sharp had previously told dealers after the set’s launch event that it adjusted the UPP from $7,999 announced at CE Week last July to $6,999, and with the latest move this week drops the UPP another $1,000, to $5,999.

The set, which had been available in some stores for several weeks, will have a national retail launch on Sept. 15 at leading Sharp retail partners in regional locations around the country, the company said.

Sharp is working with national specialty retailers, major regional retailers and, the company said.

When it arrives, the Sharp Aquos Ultra LC-70UD1U will be the world’s first THX-4K-certified display.