PanasonicTC65CX400Just two days prior to Black Friday, Panasonic revealed Wednesday that it is returning to selling two new 4K Ultra HDTV lines through regional brick-n-mortar retailers around the country.

The company said it will begin selling in December its first lines of “value-priced” 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs for the U.S. market, under the 2015 CX400 and CX420 model series.

Panasonic, which earlier this year opted to sell its CX850, CX800, CX650 and CX600 lines of 4K Ultra HDTVs direct to consumers via its online ecommerce site and a few select A/V merchants, including Scarsdale, N.Y.’s Value Electronics, said two new value CX series will be distributed through retailers including ABC Warehouse, Brandsmart U.S.A., Curacao, Electronic Express, RC Willey, and Video Only. The sets are available immediately at the online shop here.

Two years ago, Panasonic took the unusual step of selling most of the its TV lines exclusively through Best Buy stores, but that arrangement ended after one year. Panasonic said additional retailers for the new CX series models will be announced at a later date.

More on Panasonic’s new value-price CX Series of 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TVs after the jump:

Panasonic said the new CX Series includes five models in screen sizes ranging from 50-inch to 65-inch with two bezel color options – black (CX400) and matte silver (CX420). All CX Series models feature built-in Smart TV apps and Wi-Fi connectivity for easy access to streaming movies, music and other online content.

Julie Bauer, Panasonic Consumer Electronics president, said the new lines mark a move placing the company’s advanced technologies into more mainstream 4K UHDTV price points.

“Panasonic has a rich history and expertise in delivering category-leading HD and 4K Ultra HD TVs to consumers,” stated Bauer. “We have brought that same technological know-how to our first line of value-priced 4K Ultra HD TVs opening the 4K experience up to an even wider range of consumers who want Panasonic picture quality that fits their budget.”

The black bezel CX400 models include the 50-inch TC-50CX400 ($799.99 suggested retail), which will have a native 60Hz refresh rate (120Hz effective); the 55-inch TC-55CX400U ($999.99), which will have a native 120Hz refresh rate for smooth motion images and the 65-inch TC-65CX400U ($1,499.99), which also will have a native 120Hz refresh rate.

The matte silver CX420 models include the 55-inch TC-55CX420U ($999.99), with a 120Hz native refresh rate; and the 65-inch TC-65CX420U ($1,499.99), with a native 120Hz refresh rate for smooth motion images. Note that prices listed on the Panasonic shop website as this was posted were showing slightly higher. The sets will go on sale in stores in December.

All of the new CX400 and CX420 models have direct-lit LED LCD panels with native 3840×2160 pixel resolution. Interestingly, Panasonic said that the sets were designed with pre-optimized default settings “eliminating the need to spend time calibrating picture color gamut, white balance or anything else.”

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Of course, the company doesn’t explain how the sets take into account ambient room lighting, which has a significant impact on how TV pictures should be calibrated for an optimal viewing experience.

After making a big push behind the Firefox Smart TV platform for other CX Series TVs at the 2015 CES, the new CX400 and CX420 series list only a nameless smart TV capability on the company’s web store and press announcement. The sets are mentioned as supporting apps including Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, AccuWeather, ToonGoggles “and more,” and added is that built-in WiFi “offers access to unlimited movies, video and music via networkable Blu-ray players, set-top boxes smart devices and more.”

We’ve asked Panasonic representatives if the TVs will stream 4K UHD services and if the sets will support HEVC and/or VC9 decoding to display 4K streamed digital content or Ultra HD Blu-ray programming. Stay tuned for their reply.

The product literature also fails to mention if any of the HDMI inputs (the number of which are not mentioned) will support HDCP 2.2 content protection. The Panasonic shop web site also fails to display a CEA (now known as CTA) 4K Ultra HD Connected certified TV logo, which would clarify some of these issues further.

The addition of more brick-and-mortar and online retailers to the company’s distribution mix is a welcome sign, and hopefully means Panasonic is preparing to support an expanded 4K Ultra HDTV line in 2016. We are particularly anxious to see if the company will bring to the United States the very interesting 4K Ultra HD OLED TV it showed at IFA in Berlin last fall.

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