So you’re thinking about a new TV. Maybe your set is broke or it’s getting up there in age. Perhaps your neighbour bought a new one and has you thinking – man, his TV is so much nicer, and better, than mine… the technology in your set is becoming dated and it’s time to upgrade. Or it’s the kids – perhaps even the grandkids – that are putting on the pressure by criticizing your “ancient” technology in their own innocent, child-like way.
Regardless of “why” you’re considering a new TV set, you need to face the daunting challenge of understanding the different technologies available today – before you buy. Let’s face it: In today’s world, there are many differing technologies and attempting to know and understand their disparities is not only difficult, but it is complex, stressful and can lead to frustration – and maybe even a spike in your blood pressure. It can conjure up fears we didn’t know we even had and, quite often, ultimately leads us to just avoid making the decision, that final step.
So I want to help in what little way I can to clear up one of the big questions – one that not only can freak you out, but can also be controversial. The one big question today that get’s everyone’s head spinning is that of choosing between 4K UltraHD (aka: 4K or UHD or 4K UHD) and the (now) standard 1080p FullHD (aka: 1080p or FHD or 1080p FHD). What does all this stuff mean? Who cares? And why should I? Despite all the symbols and acronyms, the decision revolves around a rather simple concept. Yup, simple. Yet there’s enough talk – both for and against 4K UHD – that I’m doubting which I should buy – making it not very simple at all. So, I’ll be as quick and concise about it as possible, hopefully only giving you the tidbits you need to help wade through the waters of resolution choices.
I will write what I will call a Mini-Series on this topic since it can be complex and we all absorb and comprehend information at different rates and levels. This article will only scratch the surface on each of the 4 topics to be covered in a a series of future upcoming articles. Which I won’t make you wait long for, but will space them enough to establish them as stepping stones in the process of understanding what you need to know in the debate at hand: Should I buy a 4K UHD or 1080p FHD television? This will allow you to absorb the information. I will, in the coming days, separately discuss more in depth 4 “things” you must consider – and the 1 final decision you need to make in purchasing as new TV. So 5 articles will follow this one. We’ll consider, in the first 4 articles:
- What 4K TV actually is;
- What Can I Actually Watch in 4K?
- Why You’ll (Eventually) Want 4K;
- Is 4K Really the Future?
In the final article, I will answer the question “Should I Buy a 4K UHD TV Now or Should I Wait?”
Now, let’s dive in…
So, What is 4K UltraHD?
Let’s make it clear up front: Unless your budget allows no other alternative or you are shopping for a 19 inch TV – get 720p HDTV out of your head, off your list of options, and move on. That technology, although available, is passé and should not be a consideration (in my opinion).
4K UHD TV is the next “phase” in resolution for television displays and panels. Like 720p (regular high definition, or HDTV) was replaced by 1080p Full HD (or true high definition, FHDTV), 4K UHD replaces 1080p FHD – sort of… but we’ll park the discussion surrounding that “sort of” statement for now. Again, in an upcoming lesson, I’ll get more in depth on that.
For now, know this: 4K UHD has 4 times the pixels and therefore, 4 times the resolution quality of 1080p resolution. Now consider that 4K UHD is actually 9 times the resolution of 720p HD, which was actually the first generation of HDTV. That’s massive!
Beyond resolution, there are many more technologies at play “behind the screens” of 4K televisions. Things such as Up-Scaling, HFR (High Frame Rate), HDR (High Dynamic Range), and Quantum Dot displays are a few of the main ones, and we’ll touch on those next time. So stay tuned to get in tune with 4K technologies…
OK, I now know what 4K is, but what can I watch?
Well, not a whole lot – that is if you’re looking for true 4K content. If you consider Up-Scaling or Up-Converting 1080p to 4K, then you can watch just about anything. Although most movies and films today are shot in 4K and have been for some time, putting that material out to the public in that true 4K format has been a slower process. In many cases, we can view it, but it’s not ready to be released… in other cases, it’s ready to be released and the public is ready to watch it, but we don’t have the “vehicle” to deliver that content to the public.
But it’s coming… one step at a time. The amount of content available is growing slowly and the speed at which it arrives on your TV will continually increase over time.
Netflix and SONY currently stream 4K content in limited, yet growing, quantities, and Amazon has announced their future entry into the TV/Video streaming market – so stay tuned for more from them! Currently, 4K BluRay is being developed and is slated for a late 2015 release to the public (now you’ll get to re-purchase all your BluRay movies in 4K – yay!). You can readily purchase video cameras that record in 4K – so you can watch your home movies in 4K on an UHD TV.
Correct. There’s little to nothing to watch, yet. So, why are we discussing buying a 4K TV? Well, we’ll get more into that in the next question, but in short: Because the picture is stellar, brilliant and it’s just plain awesome!
Why you will want a 4K TV… Someday (at least).
Well, because the picture truly is amazing! To see the capabilities of these machines (yes, they are machines because words like displays, panels and sets just do not do them justice), you must see one for yourself – in real life. (Which you can coincidentally and conveniently do at Cox Electronics & Communications – in Saint John, Fredericton and St Stephen – New Brunswick).
But seriously, you will want one. Buy one and you’re ready – you’re future proof for upcoming video content. You get 4 times the resolution. It increases the quality of your current high definition (and standard definition) TV sources. It displays your digital photography in it’s true resolution – which your 1080p set will not currently do (in case you didn’t know that). The 4K content is coming. Unlike 3D TV, 4K isn’t just a fad or a gimmick. I’ll hit on these in the follow up article to this topic – plus I’ll nail down more reasons why you’ll want this TV of the future.
As mentioned, 4K is the future (or something similar)
The majority of people will not have or use 1080p TVs in twenty years or so. It will all be 4K (or higher) content and displays. All screens – phones, tablets, laptops, PC monitors, etc – continually increase their resolutions, release after release. So will TVs – especially since all “screens” typically use the same, or very similar, display technologies. So, like anything, progression forward in display technology – including resolution – is imminent. The technology is here, the displays are here, and the content has started and will continue to flow; it’s on the very near horizon.
So what should I buy? 4K or 1080p?
In this section I will discuss what all the stuff discussed prior boils down to – what it means to you when it comes time to decide what to actually purchase. Of course that comes later… but I will give you the “nutshell” version now.
It’s preference. That’s it. I know you’re thinking “Really? That’s it?” Yup. For real – that’s really what it boils down to. There’s more to it, but I don’t want to give it away. In a later article I’ll clear it up for you. Stay tuned for more…
We’ll get more into how it all comes together… in time. Baby steps, right? We’ll get you there, don’t worry!
And if you still don’t get it (or don’t want to wait for additional articles and information), stop by one of our stores and speak to our knowledgeable staff – or contact me personally. My door – and phone – are always open and available for you to reach out to me.
Nathan Brewer is the Operations Manager at
Cox Electronics & Communications in
Saint John, NB, Canada