The 411 on 4K TV
If you've gone TV shopping lately, you've probably encountered what some are calling 4K or Ultra-High Def TV models. Perhaps you've wondered how “triluminous quantum dots” will enhance your viewing experience. These high-tech sets are definitely pricey, but do they really offer a noticeably better picture? Let's take a look…
What is 4K TV?
It seems like only yesterday that HD TV was introduced; actually, High Definition TV sets first went on sale in the U.S. in 1998. Today, “1080p” is a familiar TV standard. It means a picture that contains 1920×1080 or 2,073,600 pixels per frame in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Now brace yourself for Ultra-High Definition TV, also known as UHD or “4K.” It’s tempting to assume that means “4 million pixels,” but in fact the UHD standard is 3840x2160 or 8,294,400 pixels per frame… four times the pixels of HD TV. That’s four times better, right?
Not necessarily, according to tests conducted by Consumer Reports on several HD and 4K TV sets. The test compared identical content displayed simultaneously and side-by-side on Sony sets of comparable quality.
While acknowledging that “the 4K films did show a noticeable bump in image detail compared to their HD counterparts,” Consumer Reports added, “These differences were not present on all movies, and were visible only when viewed less than 2 feet from the screen, and even then only on certain scenes.”
When viewed from a distance of 7 feet or more, the differences in picture quality between 4K and HD were “not discernable to any meaningful degree. In all cases, the differences between the two formats were in the very finest details in the image.”
So if counting the pores on the your favorite actor's face or reading the fine print at the end of the car commercials makes a big difference in your TV viewing experience, by all means go buy a 4K TV today!
4X the Price Tag, But Not the Content
Just bring plenty of cash. The smallest of Sony’s next batch of 4K TV sets, the 43-inch XBR-43X830C, will cost “only” $1,299 when it debuts in April. The mid-range of that crop, with features like Sony’s “Triluminous quantum dots” technology, will be priced from $2,199 up to $3,999 for 55 to 65 inch screens. The high-end 75-inchers will run $4,999 to $7,999. You can read more about the Sony and other brands’ 4K offerings at 4K.com
4K TVs will be boons for mass storage device makers and banes for Internet Service Providers because four times as many bits will be needed to transmit and store a given video. But 4K content is proliferating online. YouTube has been streaming 4K content since 2010! Since June, 2014, Netflix has been streaming 4K versions of House of Cards; Breaking Bad; Ghostbusters; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and some nature movies. Amazon Movies launched a 4K service in December.
Digital Trends Guide to 4K Content provides details on these and several other sources. Many movies and TV series are now available on 4K Blu-Ray discs, too.
Keep in mind that you'll need a high-speed Internet connection to stream 4K shows or movies. If your incoming speed is less than 15Mb/sec, you might experience hiccups or lower resolution. And don't hold your breath waiting for 4K content on live broadcast TV. That's at least a year away (and probably longer) from happening.
Personally, I’m going to wait at least until 2016 before seriously shopping for 4K gear. By then, prices will have returned to Earth and a lot more content will be available. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 20 Mar 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- The 411 on 4K TV (Posted: 20 Mar 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved