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What is 4K? Should I Buy A UHD TV?

What is 4k Anyway?

Posted on 29, July, 2015

Last Modified on 10, August, 2015

4K TV’s are well known to electronics consumers and connoisseurs. Every year television companies introduce higher resolution capabilities, upgraded user interfaces, and thinner displays. There are plasma, LCD, and LED TVs, and their resolutions have become sharper and sharper. Some say there’s no reason to keep introducing new technology because consumers simply won’t be able to tell the quality difference after a certain amount of pixels per inch. In this article we will explain what true 4K UHD is, how you can watch ultra-high definition movies and shows, and if it’s really worth purchasing televisions with such large price tags.

What is 4K?

4K Certified

A 4k TV measures 4,000 pixels diagonally across the screen. Before the creation of 4k, LED TVs came in different formats, including 720p, 1080i, and 1080p (which has the highest resolution at 1920 x 1080 pixels). So essentially, a 4k TV has 4 times the resolution of any HD TV previously made! Now, before you get all excited and think that it’s just going to be a clearer picture than your existing television display, think again. Having a 4k TV doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the best TV on the market. There are many other specifications besides resolution to think about when purchasing a new television. You could purchase a display with the best and brightest picture but the refresh rate could be low, creating a motion blur, or maybe the lifespan on the display may not be as long as another. There are many factors to consider before jumping into a purchase. Here are the most important things to look for.

Important 4K Specifications

When shopping for a 4K television the first thing you should do is look at the product specifications. This is a list of important information you should read to make sure you are about to purchase the right TV for you. This list can be overwhelming so we really wanted to go over the most important specs to make sure you understand what everything means. Some of items listed below might not be on the box, but you can find this information in reviews by companies like Consumer Reports, CNET, Digital Trends, rtaings.com.

  • Brightness / Peak White - To keep it simple, it is the brightness level that can be administered.
  • Screen Uniformity - This applies to consistent the image is distributed across the screen including clarity, color, and brightness.
  • Black Level / Contrast - The level of black that can be emitted from the display.
  • Display Resolution - The number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displays. The more pixels, the clearer the image on the display.
  • Reflections - Some TV’s, more than others, reflect light from windows and interior lights diminishing the picture quality.
  • Motion Blur / Refresh Rate - Larger TV’s tend to have motion blur problems. A higher refresh rate will reduce motion blur by generating artificial in-between frames between the real ones. This can create a “soap-opera effect.” To fix this you can just lower the refresh rate in your settings, although this will lower the quality of your picture.
  • Color Rendition - Color Gamut / Higher Dynamic Range - The Color Rendering Index has a rating from 0 to 100. The higher the CRI rating is, the better your experience with color shades and overall color.
  • Side Angle Viewing Quality - This is pretty self-explanatory. It is how well the picture looks to someone looking at the screen from the side of the television compared to directly in front.
  • Longevity or Lifespan - You will find this info on consumer reviews mostly. This is the average lifespan a television has before it has color degradation and other expensive problems.
  • Price - The most expensive is not always the best for you. A lower brand named TV may have a better price tag than a bigger brand TV with lower specifications.
  • Value & Overall Performance - This is also something else you will find in a review. This will give you the overall pros and cons of the specific television.
  • What Are Pixels - How many pixels on a display tells you how sharp your TV shows and movies will look. It is a minute area of light, which with many pixels creates an image. It is what every image is composed of.

Should I Buy a 4K TV?

I want to start off by saying that purchasing a 4K TV is not like upgrading from a standard definition (SD) to a high definition (HD) TV. Most, if not everyone, can see the difference between the two. However, the reason for producing UHD (or ultra-high definition) televisions is because when you look at a 80” TV compared to a 32” TV with the same resolution the picture quality is usually worse on the larger screen. This is because the pixels are more spread apart on the larger screen, which destroys the color shading and other important factors that make a display sharp.

1080p vs 4k Resolution

People have battled over 4K TV’s because some say the human eye can’t see a difference compared to 1080p unless they are within a certain distance and the screen is a certain size. The average person’s vision is 20/20 at best and your eyes can only see so much detail. Essentially, you can compare seeing a pixel to counting grains of sand on a beach. For example, if you have a 20” 4K and a 20” HD television the normal eye can’t see the difference between the standard HD and UHD TV unless they are within 4 feet of the display. People are normally 9-10 ft. away from their TV’s. Now, unless you plan on moving your couch closer to the television to experience the 4K in all its glory, is it worth paying a rather large price tag? With 4k, size really does matter.

4k and 1080p differences

Also consider that in order to use a UHD television to its full potential you will need the right UHD equipment, movies, or streaming services that support the feature. This is especially true with 4K displays are used in the medical field. For example, physcians have the potential to improve the accuracy of their medical procedures and tests, but their diagnosis will only be as good as what the display can show. Other industries like the entertainment companies YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and a few other services are starting to introduce the 4K feature. Netflix has started with Breaking Bad, House of Cards, The Blacklist, and a couple movies. If you’re watching TV with streaming services, especially wirelessly, you also must make sure that you have an internet speed that can support the heavy bandwidth consumption that comes with 4k streaming. For these reasons, many suggest allowing some time for UHD content and media to release before investing in a 4k TV. Movie makers are just starting to record in UHD to support the new resolution standard even though they may not use it in digital cinema theaters right away. The 4K television really is ahead of its time, but it has been said that 4K resolution could be the industry standard by 2017.

A 4K Video Example from YouTube

What About 8K Resolution?

8K has a resolution that is 4 times that of a 4K television at 7680 x 4320. Even though 8k is still not a standard, it will be the successor to the 4K TV. Many film editors like 8K because of the film can easily be cropped without having to enlarge the image and lose picture quality. The detail shown with this incredibly high resolution is unmatchable. You could see 8K being the industry standard in 2020.

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