New TV tech frequently comes, and very frequently goes. From Betamax to HD DVDs to 3D, fads appear, garner attention and very occasionally some customers, then leave. No matter how you slice it, it’s rare for fads to actually stick.
So, what are we to make of 4K Ultra HD TV? It’s only recently that TVs using the technology have appeared, and have since become a major talking point for consumer electronics enthusiasts. But before we decide if this particular tech is set up to win or fail, let’s discuss what it actually is.
Nuts and Bolts
The term “4K” describes some extremely high-definition televisions that started popping up past years’ CES conferences, the world’s largest trade show for new consumer electronics. We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what it actually means in a second, but if you’d rather just skip this part of the article, keep this in mind: 4K is essentially the next step in HD technology.
When discussing current HD technology, you’ll generally see a set of numbers. 720p, 1080i/p, and up are all classified as HD. Below that – 480p and 540p – and we’re talking about standard definition.
What those numbers actually refer to are pixels, or the tiny elements that make up a picture. Scootch up close to your monitor or TV screen and you’ll actually see them as miniscule, colored points. 720, 1080 and so on are the horizontal pixel counts displayed by a television screen. If they’re denser, you’re less likely to see occasional jagged line or blurry picture seen on lower definition sets.
For quite some time, 1080 has been the gold standard for home HD televisions, with some 2160 resolution sets recently appearing and earning the moniker of Ultra High Definition. 4K takes that number and runs with it. Designed to originally create smoother images on enormous theater screens, it’s making the jump to home sets in a big way.
Do You Need It?
Almost certainly not, though as we’ll see later, that may not matter. Keep in mind that 4K was made with the biggest of the big screens in mind. Shrink that definition down to a much smaller screen, combine it with the basic limits of the human visual system, and it turns out that the difference between 1080p and 4K TVs is all but unnoticeable.
If you’ve decided that you can in fact tell the difference, then you’d better be prepared to shell out hard cash. 4K TV’s come at a steep premium, with even relatively small 42” options costing several hundred dollars/ 1.5 Lakhs. These prices likely will come down as more manufacturers pack the market, but there’s no denying that they’re on the expensive side.
Finally, if you’ve already paid, you may run into some trouble finding anything designed to play on your new TV. 4K Content is in short supply at the moment. Again, expect that to change, but right now, you’re looking at a smattering of TV shows and movies offered at premium rates. Some network providers, like DirecTV (http://www.direct-sale.com/international/ Or just make your own DIY HDTv Antenna ) have recently started to enter 4K waters as well.
Where Does 4K Go From Here?
From the above section, you may have gotten the idea that I’m not very optimistic about the staying power of 4K televisions. That actually isn’t the case, believe it or not; I think 4K may be here to stay.
Despite the many cons it has at the moment, there’s a whiff of inevitability to 4K. Modern electronics manufacturers are locked in an endless competition to produce bigger, badder, brighter sets, and as a result, nearly all of the major players are hustling to create 4K offerings.
“But wait,” I hear you say, “3D and curved TVs were supposed to be the way of the future, and everyone hates them!” True, but here’s the thing – curved and especially 3D TVs offer either hard-to-understand or legitimately unpleasant viewing experiences. Higher-definition, on the other hand, is readily understood, and universally appealing, even if it’s completely unnecessary.
Not only that, but with the rise of streaming programs, we’re going to be seeing more and more content develop for use with 4K sets. Netflix, Roku, and other services can quickly adapt to this new technology, and likely will, despite their slow start. Even some game developers are starting to enjoy the jump, so you may soon be able to enjoy some survival horror in pointless HD.
In sum, should you get a 4K TV? Probably not, no. They’re incredibly expensive and a little stupid. However, it’s not hard to imagine a not-so-distant future where you already have a 4K TV, and we’re having this conversation all over again about a 6K option.