Although many consumers are still getting used to HDTV, a growing number are making the leap to 4K with the purchase of their first Ultra HD television.
There’s a lot of hype about 4K Ultra HD TVs, and no doubt these TVs can deliver a higher resolution picture, but there are a few things to keep in mind that determine what you can actually see on screen.
Screen size, distance between seats and content
There are three main factors to keep in mind to see the difference between HD and Ultra HD.
- Screen size. Although many 4K Ultra HD televisions come in sizes 65 inches or smaller, it can be difficult for many consumers to perceive a significant difference between 1080p HD and 4K Ultra HD at those screen sizes. However, at screen sizes of 70 inches or more, the difference between HD and Ultra HD starts to become noticeable. The larger the screen size, the greater the difference in detail displayed on the screen, as 4K Ultra HD TVs will retain more of it. If you have the room and the budget, consider a 4K Ultra HD TV with a screen larger than 65 inches.
- Seat distance. Along with screen size, the closer you sit to the TV also makes a difference. For example, if you shelled out for a 55-inch or 65-inch 4K Ultra HD TV, you can sit closer to the screen than a previous HDTV of the same screen size and still get a satisfying viewing experience, since the pixels (the dots that make up the screen) are much smaller. This means that the distance at which a 4K Ultra HD TV’s pixel structure becomes viewable requires a much closer seating distance than would be found with a 720p or 1080p HDTV.
- Contents. OK, even taking the first two factors discussed above, those diving into 4K Ultra HD note that there isn’t much native 4K content available – meaning that even if you have a 4K Ultra HD TV, you may not be able to take advantage of it. maximize its higher resolution display capabilities. Just because you have one of these cutting-edge new sets, doesn’t mean everything you see on screen is in glorious 4K.
As of 2018, there are no 4K Ultra HD TV broadcasts yet, though they are on the way (the built-in tuners on your 4K Ultra HD TV is a standard ATSC HD tuner). Cable isn’t doing much better, with only patchy service from Comcast. However, although limited, there is a constant 4K satellite feed from Direct TV.
Plus, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format is already installed, with players and movies available in disc format. However, that requires the purchase of a new player and discs, but the good news is that those new players can still play your old DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
It’s important to note that Sony released a line of mastered 4K Blu-ray Discs that, while still 1080p for playback on standard Blu-ray Disc players, there are some added cues embedded in the discs that allow 4K Ultra HD televisions from Sony extract more detail and color clarity for viewing on their 4K Ultra HD televisions.
Additionally, Netflix, Vudu, and Amazon all offer 4K streaming. These services are available on a growing number of media streamers from Roku, Amazon, Google Chromecast, as well as some 4K Ultra HD TVs that incorporate HEVC codec decoders. Also, a broadband speed of 15 to 25mbps is required for smooth delivery.
Upconversion to 4K
Native 4K Ultra HD bodes well for the future as content and supported devices continue to evolve. However, where does that leave many 4K Ultra HD TV owners if they can’t take advantage of the 4K content that is available?
The answer to this question lies in the fact that all 4K Ultra HD TVs can upscale currently available HD and standard resolution content to match 4K as closely as possible. Also, in a parallel development, a growing number of Blu-ray Disc players and home theater receivers also incorporate 4K upscaling. In addition, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players can also play high-quality DVDs and Blu-ray Discs to better match the viewing capabilities of Ultra HD televisions.
Although not as accurate as true 4K, depending on the quality of the content, the results may appear better than those seen on a 1080p television (taking into account the screen size and seating distance factors involved). mentioned earlier in this document). Let’s face it though, VHS, standard resolution broadcast, cable or satellite, and standard DVD won’t look as good on a big-screen 4K Ultra HD TV, but a good HD broadcast, cable, satellite, or Blu-ray Disc can do. very well.
The final result
4K is here to stay. If you haven’t bought a TV in a while, you’ll notice that the vast majority of TVs on store shelves are 4K models. Most of these sets are also smart TVs, and a growing number of them also offer advanced features, such as HDR, which takes advantage of special brightness encoding on high-definition Blu-ray discs and select streaming content.
If you’re interested in getting into 4K, check out our regularly updated list of available 4K Ultra HD TVs.