What is 4K TV?

Technology inevitably marches on.  '4K TVs', 'QuadHD TVs', or 'Ultra HD 4K TVs' as the manufacturers are calling them, are new to the market and here's what we know about them so far.

If you are video geeks like us here at VideoCrib you may want to look for one to purchase, or at least go to the store to check one out. 

Here's a quick breakdown...

(Please keep in mind that some of this info may be subject to change, but we'll make sure we keep you up to date).

(You can also view some 4K UHDTVs for sale here.)

  • The resolution - right now it's (3840 x 2160) or simply (2160p), as opposed to the current standard of (1920 x 1080) or (1080p).  So it's twice as many horizontal lines of resolution as regular HD and also 4 times the pixels, 8 million versus 2 million.
  • Can most people notice the difference in picture resolution?  From what we've seen, mostly no.  Most people will sit 5 feet or more away from their TVs, that's just the way it is.  Studies show that the closer you get to your TV, the more you can notice the picture resolution quality (see chart below).

    What is 4K TV?
    Pictured: 84-inch LCD (Ultra High Def 4K TV)

  • To compensate for loss of picture quality effect (or resolution) of 4K TV as the distance from the TV increases, manufacturers have, at least from what we've seen, made the screen sizes bigger, many of them between 70 and 80 inches measured diagonally.  (Note: motion blur, contrast ratio, color accuracy, refresh rates, compression artifacts are all separate issues from the 4K increased resolution that still need to be improved going forward, so be sure to check that each TV's specifications are to your liking for these other items).
  • If I get one, will I be able to play or view my old content?  Yes.  4K TVs will upscale your content (like 1080p) to 2160p.  For viewing discs in 4K you'll have to buy a new Blu-ray player that upscales to 4K, for example.  There are even some Home Theater receivers and video projectors now on the market that upscale video to 4K.  Of course, right now there is little or no actual source content available in 4K, but we've got some 4K Movies here if you're interested.
  • Remember when 1080p TVs first came out?  That was 10 years ago (wow!), and people asked the same types of questions back then, so it looks like we're going to experience some Deja vu.  As we gradually move to 4K TVs, people will be complaining about how there's just not enough content (like from TV Networks, Cable/Satellite providers that are not up to the new standard yet) and also not very many discs available.  We'll be in 'up-convert heaven' until all the various industry providers scramble to catch up to the new formats.  Oh, and yes, these TVs carry pretty steep price tags at the moment, just like in the 'old days', and maybe even 'more steep' than back then.
  • HDMI 2.0 is currently the latest HD Version that is 'standard'.  Can I use older Version 1.4 HDMI cables if I buy a new 4K TV?  Yes.  Just make sure you are using 'High Speed Category 2' cables, Version 1.4 or higher. You can get more details by visiting our HDMI Releases page.

1080p vs 4K TV

  • Bottom line - should I get a '4K TV', 'Quad HD' or 'Ultra HD 4K TV' right now?  As with any new technology, only serious videophiles may opt for it at this point. If you work in the business or medical world, are a video gamer or are feeding your computer signal to your TV, you may want to immediately take advantage of this new technology, which is said to closely rival 35mm film stills (photos) and motion pictures, which 1080p does not. Otherwise your need may not be as great. But as we say here at the Crib, if you want to check one out to see for yourself, go to your local store and:

Give it a Try, and Happy Viewing!

optimal viewing distance by TV size and resolution


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