Ultra HD television, sometimes referred to as 4K, is widely seen as a leap forward in picture quality. 4K UHD has twice the horizontal and vertical resolution of the 1080p HDTV format, with four times as many pixels overall. A 4K television set, given its ability to improve current HD picture quality, among other reasons, is a better purchase even at today’s prices than a large-screen HDTV, which threatens to lock viewers into an increasingly inferior standard for years to come.
Today, 4K sets from leading brands with 55-inch screens are available for $2,300. It would be less expensive to buy a screen of the same size in 1080p. But large-screen TVs are a long-term purchase and represent great value for money.TV manufacturers are solidly behind UHD. Unlike 3-D television, 4K does not require the inconvenience of special glasses. Those who choose their 4K set carefully will be buying a television that is future-proofed for years to come.
Much of the first 4K content will become available via the Internet. A broadband speed of 15 megabits per second is enough to ensure a good experience of 4K, and many households already have this. Viewers who want to be among the first to watch must-see shows such as “House of Cards” in 4K will find 4K sets an attractive proposition.Big sporting events often trigger households into upgrading their sets. With the World Cup starting in Brazil next month, the coming weeks will see many consumers upgrading their sets to enjoy the event in the highest quality possible.Physical media is also not the answer. Blu-ray discs cannot handle 4K content. The player can support playout of 2160p images and video, but the discs themselves don’t have the capacity to hold most 4K movies and the extras that are often included in Blu-ray.
Many consumers are encountering the 4K phenomena. But to enjoy the true benefits of 4K, three things need to be present: the television, the content, and a way to get the content to the TV. It’s a bit like the proverbial three-legged stool. If one of the legs is a bit short of the others, the experience is, at best, uneven. Missing a leg? Then the system doesn’t work at all.TV makers rolled out 4K sets in early 2012, demonstrating 84-inch behemoths with stunning picture quality priced in the $20,000 range. By the end of 2013, prices had fallen dramatically, with 55-inch 4K TVs priced as low as $3,500. And by last month, prices had fallen further to $2,500.
Finally, it’s true that when watching HD content on a 4K set there can be a marginally better picture. But why pay two to three times as much to get a slightly better picture quality when actual 4K content won’t be available for some time?Only the hardiest gadget lovers should think of buying 4K now while they still cannot get the full benefit of it. Everyone else can wait.