What is 4K (Ultra HD) and why you might not need it yet

  • 12/01/2014 AT 23:20 by It's a Gadget Staff
  • Technology, Tips & Tweaks

Sony 4K TV CES 2014If you read news from from CES 2014, you should probably know by now that 4K was one of the most used term out there. This year at CES tech companies came with TV’s, Projectors, Camcorders stuffed with 4K feature. But what is 4K exactly ? Some of you probably know, but regular people that are not into technology might not.

What is 4K ?

4K, also known as Ultra HD or UHD is a term widely used for describing a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 Pixels or 4,096 x 2,160 Pixels. This resolution has four times more pixels than a FullHD (1080p) resolution.

4K technology is widely used in cinemas all over the world (at 4,096 x 2,160 Pixels) and since 2013 there are some 4K TV models available on the market. Besides 4K, which is widely known as an Ultra High Definition Standard, there’s also another standard that is even higher: 8K which features 7680 × 4320 Pixels.

Do I really need to use a 4K TV ?

Not yet, because the technology is just at the beginning. Kaz Hirai, Sony CEO, said during CES 2014 that mainstream adoption of 4K could take five to seven years. In other words, the mainstream is not ready to adopt 4K content.

Another problem of 4K explained by experts is that the human eye is not ready to distinguish the difference. That’s because no one sits at 3 feet (1 meter) to watch an entire movie just to spot the pixels. On a regular viewing distance(10 feet/3 meters), the human eye can’t spot the difference between a 4K and 1080p movie.

There’s going to be some density beyond which you can’t do any better because of the limits of your eye, said Don Hood, a professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University, in a phone interview with NBC News.

Experts even go further and claim that they don’t see the point of using 4K TV and that this is just a waste of time. Sony responded NBC article and said that “the 4K picture quality difference is evident when seen in person, and [they] invite consumers to see and experience the difference for themselves because seeing is believing.”

What is the price of a 4K TV ?

If you want to follow the trend and get a curved 4K TV you should know that this is quite pricey. LG’s 105-inch Curved ULTRA HDTV(105UC9 Model) that was demoed during CES 2014 costs $69,999. But don’t panic yet, the price is for a huge TV, not for a normal one.

You can also find 4K TV’s on the market that have lower prices, but are made in 2013. Samsung prices the 55-inch F9000 UHD(4K) TV at $2,999, Sony prices XBR-55X850A at $2,999, LG 55LA970W  is priced at £2,999 in UK and the list can go on. So if you are interested to purchase a 55-inch 4K TV you can do it for around $3000.

Can I download/stream 4K from Internet ?

Sony says that you need a 50 Mbps Internet connection to stream 4K content via their FMP-X1 4K Media Player (priced at $699). Even if you have a fast Internet connection, the problem is that there isn’t enough 4K content available right now, which means that in at most 1 month you could literally end watching all 4K movies for example. This situation is similar with 3D content.

Eventually, in time there will be enough 4K and 3D streaming content and the good news is that tech companies are starting to adopt a new codec(HEVC) for video processing known to be twice as efficient as the currently used(H.264). HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) can provide the same resolution as H.264 and this way download/stream twice faster a 4K content from the Internet.

Our honest recommendation

4K, UHD, Ultra HD is cool, but this is just the beginning. 2014 is just the second year of this new thing and we believe that the consumer is not ready yet to adopt it. Sure, if you have money to spend and a ultra fast Internet connection you could buy a 4K TV every year. Now that you find out what is 4K and why you shouldn’t hurry to adopt it you should could save your money for a 1080p TV.

Our recommendation is to buy a regular Full HD TV that can satisfy your daily needs. Go for a SmartTV if you use apps like Netflix, HULU, YouTube, Amazon, HBO GO, Eurosport Player and so on. In 2-3 years I’m sure the prices of 4K TV’s will be more accessible and the technology will also offer more than it does right now.


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