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4K is the next generation TV quality. Often referred to as ULTRA HD or Super HD, the term ‘4K’ refers to the 4000 horizontal pixel resolution of the TV.

A 4K TV also has roughly four times the pixel density of a standard HD TV- 4K is 4096x 2160 and a standard HD TV is 1920×1080. In real terms, it’s four times better quality.

4K is better than HD because the added pixels makes the image a far higher quality: with better detail, depth, colour and balance of picture. Think about the difference from a Blue Ray to Standard Definition- 4K should be the next step.

The real resolution

4ktv chart

The official resolution of 4K is 4096×2160 pixels but our current standard picture format is 16:9, meaning the resolution has to be adapted to a slightly lower 3840×2160. If you are watching 4K in a cinema it’s usually the true 4096×2160.

Some people in the tech world are predicting the influx of 4K could spawn a new TV format that will accommodate the 4K resolution better.

What’s on the Market?

dell ultra hd 4k monitor

Since the turn of 2015 4K has begun to trickle into the market. Leading brands like LG, Samsung and Sony have released a number of 4K TVs and monitors into the market with prices falling rapidly. There has also been an influx of entry level 4K TVs and monitors to the market starting as low as £350.

At the moment, computer monitors are still the ‘cheapest way to get a 4K display at these early stages. You can check out ebuyer’s selection here.

How will we watch 4K?

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon (Lovefilm) and Sky look to be best placed to offer 4K content via their On-Demand service. It’s likely to be streaming where we see a good proportion of both 4K movies and TV content. Netflix have already announced 4K content for selected series.

BluRay disks have the capacity to hold 4K films and this format is likely to be there in the beginning. There are also plans in process to have a special ‘Triple-Layered DVD’, a 100GB optical disk that could cater to these films. It’s likely that one of these will wipe out the other in a price war.

BT recently announced they would be the first European broadcaster to offer 4k content on their “BT Sport Ultra HD” channel. So sports fans will be able to see some of their favourite football, rugby and athletics in glorious ultra HD.

Can we upscale?

Like a BluRay player, 4K devices won’t be able to upscale a standard disk to the Ultra HD format. However films will have the possibility of re-mastering to 4K so you won’t need to throw away your old DVD collection just yet.

For 3d?

3d tv glasses

Current 3D TV’s that use the ‘passive format’ struggle to produce as a high a quality image as standard HDTV. This is because the image has to be split between the right and left eyes to create the 3D effect- meaning half the pixels are lost. 4K TV can resolve this issue by simply having more pixels in the first place. Half of 4K is 2K, which is still higher than a current HDTV.

Price

Well, it’s quite a lot compared to standard and HD TV, however prices are falling rapidly. Most TV sets are at the £800 mark but like its predecessor 1080p, the cost will fall over the year(s). You can expect costs of a mid to top range set to be around the £800 mark for a 32-inch when everything settles down.

There are however entry level models now hitting the market for as low as £250.

Monitors are still he cheapest way into the 4K market, with costs for a 24-inch version as low as £200.

Other uses?

Digital Photographers should be some of the most interested parties in 4K, as the high definition format will allow them to view their pictures in a much more realistic aspect. Large-scale shots with minute detail will benefit in particular. It will also be great for gamers wanting super realistic detail in their games.

Who’s onboard

Everyone is having a go with LG and Sony are appearing to lead the cavalry charge. Panasonic, Dell, ASUS, Toshiba and Acerhave thrown their hat into the ring and Samsung are working on beastly 84-inch version to go alongside their monitor range.

Price and quality will ultimately sway the market but for the moment it’s anyone’s game.

*article updated Jun 2015ebuyer-black-text-logo-transparent-2015banner1

12 COMMENTS

  1. In order for an Ultra HD TV to display SD (standard definition) or HD (high definition) content, that content must first be upscaled. Most Blu-ray players have upscaling chips in them to convert DVD (480p) content into 1080p content so that it looks better on a 1080p TV. Similarly, Ultra HD sets need to convert SD or HD content to Ultra HD resolution before it can be displayed – it’s gotta fill all those extra pixels with something, right? Take note, however, that while most of the big-name manufacturers’ Ultra HD TVs do a solid job with upconversion, the budget brands do not. This will change in the near future, though, as upscaling chips become more ubiquitous and less expensive.

  2. I actually think that upscaling makes the medium look worse. Anything processed will never look as good as the original. I think 4k has no real place as of yet as broadcast will take a long time to catch up. Sky is still broadcasting at 720p or at least that’s the resolution of their boxes. With 4k you are going to get the same as you got with HD, a multitude of old movies remastered to justify the new technology. I don’t think anyone should make the switch for at least 2-4 years as there won’t be enough true 4k media to justify it.

  3. Agree with Asterix, but maybe even longer time span of 5 to 10 years for tv. Most of tv broadcast is still not even HD and probably never will due to limited bandwidth. Can you imagine an old programs like Star Trek , Colombo , Morse, etc being shown in 4K. Would look poor.

  4. Technically superior perhaps, but is it worth the effort. Entertainment pleasure is mainly derived from the content, whether it is sport, film or TV programmes and not the quality of the display. Better written drama and exciting sporting clashes win out over a superior display every time.

  5. I’ve invested in a Samsung 48″ 4k TV (£1500), which came with a USB HD with pre-loaded 4k content which included the two latest Star Trek films. They look absolutely stunning. The detail & brightness is phenomenal.
    What;s really amazing though, is the detail & clarity when fed with Freeview HD (incredible) or a Bluray (fantastic). The upscaling is excellent & I’m very pleased with my purchase. Unfortunately, my other 1080p TV’s, 50″ & 60″ , now look positively dull by comparison, so I’ll have to replace those when I can afford to. Or maybe a 4k projector to replace my 1080p Optoma………..

  6. I agree with Louis Cypher. HD/UHD might look stunning when you’re watching a demo or something, but when you get into a program you hardly notice what the resolution is. Come on, I can’t be the only one who browses through the Sky guide looking for something only to realise 20 minutes later that I’m still watching it on the mini TV!!!

  7. I am not sure why people fall for the so called “up scaling”!! At the end of the day, the resolution is decided by the image formed on your retina! Sit back a meter away, even a 4K screen will look the same as a HD!! 4K is good for viewing smartphone pictures (8 MPixel and above) and a true 4k film, not an up-scaled HD one. Wait for a 4K Blu-ray and don’t waste your money in buying a up-scaling DVD player.

  8. @ Asterix.
    I don’t know where you get your information from, but Sky have been broadcasting at 1080i resolution for quite a while now. My last two boxes were also 1080i.
    Most “old movies” filmed on 35 to 75mm film are actually down scaled to 1080p and even 4k. The resolution on 75mm film especially can easily surpass the 8k mark.

    @ Paul.
    All Freeview HD channels are 1080i.
    And the remastered Star Trek original series looks great on blu ray.

  9. Yet another pointless article, riddled with poor information and nonsense.

    If your standard cretin isn’t able to easily work out what 4k is they shouldn’t be allowed to own one. Even a cheap LG one ‘from Argos’

    My advise to the semi-cretinous… Make sure ‘Argos’ are selling something that wont be outdated in the next year by its operating frequency, its HDMI firmware can handle the peripherals that have recently been released so you can actually get a 4k signal to it.

    ….And most of all…. Read up about your future purchases on reputable AV sites and forums. Rather than piss pot bulk retailers poorly put together ‘blog’.

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