If you think the incredible picture quality, detail, color and resolution of HDTV is the pinnacle in home entertainment viewing, you’d actually be mistaken. Something even better is on the horizon: 4KTV.
Yes, 4K television is on its way, and it promises to be even better than HDTV — four times better, to be exact.
How on earth can things get better than HDTV, you might ask? Well, the quality of the 4K picture starts with the video camera. A 4K camera is able to capture far more details than an HD camera. The 4K image sensor is quite a bit larger than previous video cameras, so more digital data is captured. The end result is a more accurate, superior picture. It has been said that 4K enables the largest TV screens to look better than ever. Viewers can sit closer to the screen and have an engaged, immersed experience, like having a movie theater right in their home.
To put it in pixels, at this time HDTV has a resolution of 1080p, or 2 million pixels per frame. By comparison, 4K technology will deliver about 8.8 million pixels per frame, with resultant heightened accuracy, detail and picture quality. Its creators believe this will translate into even sharper, clearer pictures with better color and contrast than what HD currently offers.
Concerns with Content
As for concerns with this technology, the main one so far has been the fact that there’s just not yet that much content available for these TVs. At this time, about 100 movies are available in 4K, according to CNN. Only 4K content can do justice to a 4K display. It’s going to take some time for the technology to become widespread, and then content providers will step up their output.
Sony has plans to offer a 4K media player — the FMP-X1 — that will be released in 2013. It will come pre-loaded with 10 movies in 4K resolution and has a price tag of $699. The device will be internet-ready and also ready to connect with a 4K movie download service Sony will be offering, set to launch in late 2013. This content will be available for users with unlimited fiber broadband and a paid subscription. 4K Blu-ray won’t be available in 2013, which may create a higher demand for 4K streaming services.
Third parties, especially cable tv providers, will eventually start offering 4K technology as well. DirecTV recently trademarked a 4K/Ultra HD network, according to DigitalTrends.com. Streaming cost details have not yet been released, but these will likely be your best bet for 4K content if you snap up a 4K TV early in the technology’s life cycle.
The Cost of Cutting-Edge
As of this writing, the Sony company is leading the charge in 4K technology. They offer a huge 84-inch model for $25,000 as well as smaller sizes. A standard size TV these days has come to mean 50 inches or larger, as “average” for a TV size seems to continually increase. CNET got a chance to demo Sony’s offerings; here’s what they found:
Sony will offer the Bravia model in a 55-inch 4K UltraHD-TV with a price tag of $5,000. There will also be a 65-inch version for $7,000, according to Forbes. Lesser-known companies like Sharp, OEM Seiki, LG, Panasonic and Samsung will also offer their own versions of 4K TV. These offerings will likely be more affordable, but come with fewer features.
The question remains: Do you need 4K TV? The answer to that question is up to you. Visual people who love home theater entertainment will probably want the latest and greatest. However, if you’re only a moderate TV watcher, the difference may not be appreciable enough for you. Regardless, go and see the technology yourself, view it side by side with HDTV, and decide for yourself if the difference is worth the cost.
Article by Peter Henry
Pete is a freelance writer and single dad who lives in Maryland.