Toshiba shows prototype 50-inch 4K TV

The TV is one of the smallest 4K sets yet seen

Toshiba 4K TV on show at the IFA electronics expo in Berlin

Toshiba 4K TV on show at the IFA electronics expo in Berlin

In the world of 4K television -- that's TV with four times the resolution of today's high-def sets -- size is king, because you really need a big screen to benefit from all those extra pixels. But at this year's IFA consumer electronics show Toshiba is displaying one of the smallest 4K prototypes yet seen.

The TV has a 50-inch screen size and was on show alongside the company's 58-, 65- and 84-inch 4K televisions. The latter three TVs, which carry the L9 or M9 model names, will be available across Europe this month.

There is no launch date for the 50-inch prototype set.

The larger TVs cost between roughly $5,000 and $17,000 so the smaller set, if it goes on sale, should be cheaper.

Getting 4K content onto the sets is still stuck in a chicken-and-egg stage: there's no regular 4K broadcasting available due to the small size of the audience, and the audience will remain small until there's a critical mass of content.

Until there is true 4K content, the next best thing is probably upscaling -- taking a conventional high-definition signal and using software to guess the extra pixels and make it higher resolution.

Toshiba used IFA to launch an upscaling Blu-ray Disc player, the BDX6400KE. It also supports 3D content and Miracast, a Toshiba-developed streaming technology. Launch in Europe is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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