4K is a relatively new technology in the TV industry that can potentially change the way people watch and use television. It seems to be the next big thing after the 3D TV. However, many consumers have strayed away from the 3D technology, because in the end, good picture quality is more important than perception of depth. 4K TVs clearly win among others in terms of screen resolution; at 4096 x 3072, they convincingly surpass 1080p TVs. Very large TV sets obviously need every bit of extra pixels to keep the pictures sharp. 4K TVs are also typically based on LED technology, which ensure brighter whites, darker blacks, longer operational life and lower energy consumption.
Under the official “ultra HD” moniker, 4K TV significantly reduce viewers ability to distinguish individual pixels, unless they place themselves very close to a very large TV screen. When watching a 77-inch 1080p TV, people need to sit more than 10 feet away to avoid seeing individual pixels. With 4K TV, there’s no such limitation, the TV screen can get much bigger and people can stand much closer without detecting any pixelation.
This ensures much better depth and smoother edges, as well as much faster display refresh rates. With proper implementation, 4K TVs can delivers nearly similar depth as 3D TVs, even when users don’t use glasses. Fortunately, 4K TVs don’t immediately render current TV technology obsolete and current HDTV platforms won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It will take time for Ultra HD technology to be implemented on a much wider basis and there will be a time when 4K technology becomes a default standard. This requires uniform standardization throughout the whole industry and mature infrastructure in any major market.
People may argue that 1080p TVs are already adequate as people regularly sit more than 20 feet away from a large screened TV. However, 4K is a future-proof technology that can be adopted to much larger TV, even beyond 100-inch with adequate sharpness.
Among first 4K TVs are 84-inch models released by LG and Sony, with initial price tags between $20,000 and $25,000. They are still out of reach of average consumers, but it’s estimated that the price will fall under $10,000 in the end of 2013 and under $5000 in 2014. There are certainly issues that need to be addressed, 4K TVs require four times more data stream compared to typical HD televisions. As of today, Toshiba, Sony and Samsung need to implement a kind of upscaling technique to allow HD content from standard TV broadcast, Blu-Ray, online streaming and others, to run on 4K TVs.
Apparently, this won’t be the end. NHK, the Japanese major TV broadcaster is planning to skip 4K technology entirely and go straight to the Super Hi-Vision system instead, which is based on 8k technology. It was first tested in London Olympics 2012 and field trials will begin no later than 2020 in Japan.
Overall, there’s a feeling of inevitability with the 4K technology and it will eventually become more widespread. Some people may argue that there’s no point of using 4K technology for a screen smaller than 50-inch. However as prices go down and infrastructure becomes much improved, it will not be sensible to insist on using smaller, more outdated screen resolution.