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TCL debuts first 50-inch 4K TV under a grand

TCL has announced the first 50-inch 4K screen to be released for $999, the 7E504D.

The 50-inch TCL 7E504D is a 4K/UHD screen. TCL

Chinese TV maker TCL has announced the first 50-inch 4K screen to be released in the U.S. for under a grand, the $999 7E504D, which will debut alongside the company's flagship 1080p 5510 series.

The TV will be available in September and is an edge-lit LED LCD with a 120Hz CMI (Clear Motion Index) engine. The native 4K screen has an onboard scaler and will accept native 4K input -- such as from a PC or future 4K players, though presumably locked at 30Hz until the arrival of HDMI 2.0.

The 50-incher includes four HDMI ports and MHL compatibility for controlling and charging a smartphone or Roku stick. It also sports an USB connector for viewing pictures or playing MP3s.

In addition, TCL has unveiled its flagship 5510 series for release in the U.S. in August; its models are the 40-inch LE40FHDE5510 ($399), the 46-inch LE46FHDE5510 ($499), and the 55-inch LE55FHDE5510 ($799).

The three models all offer a 120Hz edge-lit LED LCD display with a 1080p resolution and three HDMI ports with MHL. The 55-inch set includes built-in Wi-Fi and Smart TV with Netflix, YouTube, and Yahoo Apps.

All of the TVs have a slim-frame design with a gunmetal gray finish and a glass stand.

Meanwhile, fellow Chinese brand Seiki has a slightly more expensive 50-inch 4K TV, the SE50UY04, which is available for about $1,100 from Amazon. It didn't fare well in our review. For what it's worth, Seiki also sells a 39-inch 4K TV for $699.

Also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD), the consumer version of 4K is a resolution measuring 3,840x2,160 pixels and is yet to be established in either a broadcast or disc-based format. One of the main advantages so far is that the technology has the potential to show passive 3D better than 1080p sets, although the 50-inch TCL 7E504D doesn't have 3D.

There are also plenty of disadvantages, including the fact that at smaller screen sizes like 50 inches, the benefits are very difficult to discern.

Updated, Thursday at 5:55 a.m. PT: This article was updated to take into account a less expensive, 39-inch Seiki 4K TV.