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4K LCD TV panel shipments to increase 40-fold in 2013

Reinforcing the coming-out party 4K resolution TVs threw at CES 2013, NPD DisplaySearch predicts 2.6 million panels with ship in 2013, up from 63 thousand last year.

Sony's 84-inch XBR-84X900 is only of only two 4K TVs on the market now. That's going to change very soon.
Sony Electronics

A new report by TV industry tracker NPD DisplaySearch says Ultra HD resolution LCD TV panels, the principal component in new UHD/4K TVs, will increase significantly in 2013.

The firm says the number will top out at 2.6 million by the end of the year, up from a paltry 63 thousand in 2012.

A summary of findings in its "Quarterly Large-Area TFT Panel Shipment Report" says five suppliers will be responsible for the growth in 4K LCD panels, feeding a number of TV brands worldwide. China will play a key role, and growth will be driven by sizes between 50 and 65 inches.

"4K×2K panel manufacturers' shipments are primarily focused on 50-inch, 55/58-inch, and 65-inch sizes, which are expected to have the highest volume shipments, especially in China," says David Hsieh, NPD DisplaySearch vice president, Greater China Market, in a statement.

To put the 2.6 million panel number in perspective, consider that DisplaySearch reported that shipments of all TV types totaled 237 million in 2012. The firm predicts flat demand for TVs worldwide in 2013.

If you're wondering about OLED, DisplaySearch says its 2013 volume will be significantly less than that of 4K -- just 50 thousand units worldwide in 2013.

In the U.S. there are only two 4K TVs currently on sale, each 84 inches diagonal in size and astronomically expensive: the $20K LG 84LM9600 and the $25K Sony XBR-84X900.

Among well-known U.S. TV brands, Sony, LG, Sharp and Vizio announced smaller-size 4K TVs at CES 2013. While pricing and availability haven't been officially announced for any of them, I expect all to be quite expensive.

Meanwhile Chinese brands Hisense, Haier, and TCL, as well as Westinghouse, for example, were more aggressive in showing smaller-size 4K sets at CES. I won't be surprised if their 4K TV pricing for the U.S. market, when they do decide to ship here, is equally aggressive.

I've only tested one 4K TV in person so far, Sony's 84-incher, and in my limited hands-on, the improvement afforded by the extra pixels was negligible. I expect the improvement visible on these smaller sizes to be even less evident, but I'll only know for sure once I can test them.

Now playing: Watch this: Hands-on with Sony's 84-inch, $25,000 4K TV