All you need to know about 4K TV
What is 4K TV?
For a mature technology that can trace its roots all the way back to the 1920s, television has never stopped evolving – and the last 10 years may have been some of the most dramatic. From 480i to 720p and on to the current 1080p standard, the next wave of dazzling picture quality and monstrous screen sizes will come with 4K TV Ultra HD.
But what is it? What can it do? How does it work? We’ve scratched our heads a few times ourselves in putting all the pieces together, but this comprehensive guide to help you better understand what TV manufacturers say is the next big thing in television.
There’s “4K TV” and “Ultra HD TV”, so are they different?
No, not at all. What you’re seeing are just two different terms for describing the same technology. Manufacturers just can’t seem to agree on what to call it. Basically, 4K or Ultra HD is four times the resolution of 1080p, which is technically supposed to measure 4,096 x ,2160 pixels (or 2160p), though actual 4K Ultra HD TVs have fewer pixels horizontally, measuring 3,840 x 2,160.
Recently, a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) group decided that, to end confusion and make marketing easier, Ultra HD should be the official name for the new resolution standard. Unfortunately, people have been calling it 4K TV for long enough that making the transition to Ultra HD hasn’t been so smooth. Some manufacturers, like Sony, insist on calling it 4K anyway, not helping matters.
Do I need 4K TV?
No. Your 1080p HDTV will still work years from now, and there are currently no plans to abandon regular HD broadcasts the way analog broadcasts ceased in 2009. But you might still be tempted to upgrade once you sit in front of a 4K TV Ultra HD set.
What is the benefit of 4K TV?
The main benefit is better picture quality. The higher resolution of 4K TV means there are 8 million pixels onscreen compared to the 2 million in a 1080p display. If you thought 1080p HD was already sharp and detailed, 4K can take that even further because the pixels are four times smaller. This is partly why 4K Ultra HD has been pushed for larger screen sizes — the extra pixels have a bigger impact on a huge display.
Having more pixels on the screen doesn’t just mean a better picture on larger displays; higher pixel density also makes it tough to see individual pixels when you sit really close to the TV. It may seem strange, but that essentially means you can sit closer to the screen, even if it is larger than the 1080p one you have now.
What 4K Ultra HD TVs are available now?
Sony, LG, Samsung and Toshiba all have 84-inch monster 4K Ultra HD sets available (Samsung’s is actually 85 inches), but the price tag isn’t cheap — you’re looking at anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. A few manufacturers have also launched smaller sets that are more affordable, though still expensive by the standards of current 1080p sets. Best Buy has already begun selling Sony’s smaller sets, to the tune of $5,000 for the 55-inch and $7,000 for the 65-inch model.
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