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Toshiba's $12,000 55-inch 4K 3D TV--dazzling!

The Regza 55X3 QFHD TV, the world's first 4K screen for the consumer market, is brilliant with or without 3D, though the depth effect seems subtle at first blush.

A Ceatec visitor checks out the 55X3 after lineups of 30 minutes. Tim Hornyak/CNET

MAKUHARI, Japan--Toshiba has been showing off a dazzling 55-inch glasses-free 3D TV here at the Ceatec technology trade show ahead of its December release in Japan and Germany, and people are queuing for half an hour to see it.

The Regza 55X3 has a QFHD (Quad Full HD) screen with 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. That's about 8.29 million pixels, four times that of full HD, and quite a leap from previous 3D Regza models. It will be the world's first 4K TV for the consumer market.

The screen can switch to 2D mode with the press of a button. There's a camera under the screen that tracks viewers' faces to adjust the 3D viewable range.

The TV's 3D integral imaging system creates nine parallax images by directing the light in nine directions, allowing viewers to recognize the images as having depth without using glasses. It's run on Toshiba's Cevo-Engine Duo multi-processor platform.

Like other 3D televisions that don't require special viewing gear, the 55X3 offers a 3D effect that can be underwhelming at first--partly because the face-tracking function was not active for the demo. I found that the longer I spent in front of it, the more my brain appreciated it.

In 2D mode, the QFHD resolution was far more impressive. It felt like looking through a window at something real instead of a series of recorded images. The eye-popping footage was captured with a special JVC camera that can record in QFHD.

"This is about bringing reality into the living room in a large 55-inch format," says Kaori Hiraki of Toshiba's PR office. "We bought a panel maker that developed this 3K4K resolution and also 8,000 x 4,000 resolution panels."

The 55X3 goes on sale in Japan in mid-December in the 900,000 yen ($11,700) range.