What's With All The Hype in 4K Ultra HD TV? A Closer Look at Tomorrow's Display

(last update: January 14, 2015)


3D was a flop. Well, the first wave of 3D TVs were promising, but at the end of the day, no one likes to wear heavy and bulky glasses just to enjoy their TV at home. This is why TV manufacturers, along with mobile phone manufacturers, even online streaming websites such as Netflix and retail sites like Amazon, pushed 4K and Ultra HD technology. But what do these jargons mean? What should you need to enjoy 4K ultra high-definition video? Dual Monitors Guide has everything you need to know about 4K content.


We have reviewed the latest 4K computer monitors here.

Also, if you need more convincing on why you should get a 4K monitor, click here, as we discuss why it makes sense to get a 4K UHD display right now.


LED LCD vs. OLED vs. Plasma, 3D TV, and 120Hz. These are just some of the confusing terms we need to get familiar with when searching for a new TV. As if these things are not enough, the TV industry introduced a new jargon – the 4K Ultra HD TV. The term 4K has been taking the news by storm, and by the looks of it, the phrases 4K and Ultra High Definition will be on the news for the months and even years to come.

(image from Amazon)

From Streaming for your favorite TV shows in Netflix to the FIBA World Cup in Spain and FIFA World Cup in Brazil this 2014, you will be hearing a lot about ‘Ultra HD’ or 4K Resolution.

As evidence by the monitors and displays you’ll see in appliance centers and computer supply stores, and the recent reviews here in our website, cutting-edge displays are already great. But late 2012 and early last year, 2013, there’s a new buzz being hyped by many manufacturers and retailers, and we heard a lot about how they are considered as the future of digital display. Subsequently, reviews of 2014’s newly released displays showed why 4K Ultra HD TV is worth all the hype its getting. But what really defines 4K, and how is it different from other monitor resolution? More importantly, do you want it? Let’s know more about this so-called display of the future, continue reading this Dual Monitor Guide’s post.

Then and Now

Before the arrival of 4K Ultra HD, there are four main resolutions: the standard definition (480p to 540p), high definition (720p) and the best we have in the market – Full HD TV, also known as the 1080p TV (taken from the number from the vertical pixels: i.e. 1,080). In basic terms, higher resolution means better and more detailed display. Full HD TV has 2 million pixels, while the 4K TVs has around whopping 8.3 million pixels. This means 4K Ultra HD TV has four times better pixels than Full HD TV, even at the same exact size.

(image from Amazon)

4K technology has been around for years, it was first used in Blu-ray movies and HD broadcasts, and its roots can be traced to the theater. The first big push of this technology was made in 2009, with James Cameron’s blockbuster film about “giant blue alien species” Avatar 3D. The movie drove 4K Sony projectors into theaters all over the world. Since then, the industry has been quick to developing this brand of technology – from standard 3D to 3D in 4K technology.

 

Defining 4K TV and Ultra HD

4K TV and Ultra HD are one of the same. Anything described as a 4K TV or Ultra HD will have a resolution of at least 3840 x 2160 pixels. The 4K is derived from the number of horizontal pixels, and is now used as the common term to describe 4K Ultra High Definition.

 

Sony KDL 46w905 (source: Amazon)

You will also often see UHD (Ultra High Definition) used interchangeable with 4K, whether describing a Television, source devices and even display accessories or content.

Why does the difference matter? Here are some of the good reasons that will make you care about this next generation TV.

 

 

 1. Next Generation Display is Becoming Cheaper Very Quickly

Price is obviously the first and the most important thing most of us consider when looking for a new display. And though 4K TV didn’t start as inviting when it’s first released in terms of price, more and more manufacturers make more competitive models with affordable price tags for everyone to enjoy.

LG and Sony debut with an 84-inch 4K TV with a ridiculous cost of around $33,000 USD. Now, they have smaller models with more reasonable price. Samsung for example, had a great 55-inch 4K TV in the name of Samsung UE55F9000, available for only around $6,600 USD – A whopping reduction in cost in just a short span of time. After a few weeks, they then released cheaper options with their 65-inch monitor available at around $8,300 USD.

Though it is obviously not an affordable option, or even practical for everyone to switch to 4K TV any time soon, the quick reduction in cost for just a short period of time leads us to believe that it will just be a matter of time before this amazing display can be offered in a similar price range as the normal Full HD TVs. Philips for example, has already predicted a large cut of price ahead in the launch of their own 4K TV at IFA last August, 2013.

Right now, it is not a question of “when will…”, 4K TV prices are plummeting, and the question is “how far, and how fast…” By the look of it, we will see a lot of competitive brands and models releasing affordable 4K Ultra HD TV this 2014, as more and more brands promise to release more models in the days to come.

The Toshiba 58L9363 also started the revolution of cheap 4K televisions. It is one of the best models out there that paved the road for making future display affordable. As a matter of fact, its announcement caused the prices LG, Samsung and Sony to hugely cut the prices of their 4K TVs.

 

Keep up to date with the latest news, releases, and cheapest 4K Ultra HD TV here at Dual Monitors Guide.

 

 2. It Brings the Theater to your Home

4K Ultra HD TV is not a fad, its theater technology you can have at the comforts of your home. As a matter of fact, 4K movies and TV shows are already on the mix, and it’s fast growing. More and more movies are either being converted to 4K format or filmed directly through a 4K capable camera. America’s number 1 quiz show Jeopardy! for example, is now being shot using 4K, by the looks of it, more and more shows are heading this way.

(image from Amazon)

Obviously, the main point of this technology is in the details, having 4096 (or 3840) x 2160 pixels to work on. This lets these TVs to produce not just the subtle details recorded, but even the texture, bring more vibrant colors to make things look more vivid through blends and tonal shifts.

Many people who are pessimistic about 4K TV thinks we can’t get the full advantage of the extra resolution as the large screen makes us sit from a distance. However, they seem to forget that the viewing distance is actually a good thing. Why? Simply because sitting 1.5 X away from your screen’s height means that the screen of your TV completely fills your field of vision, making you feel more immersed in what you’re watching. In other words, it provides the same type of immersion as you experience in the movie house.

The LG 55LA970W takes full advantage of the need for chunkier TV sets, it comes with a beefed up audio, thanks to the added subwoofer on the rear. Its biggest selling point however, is its Cinema 3D equipped with NANO Full LED backlighting and a Tru-ULTRA HD Engine for up-scaling SD and HD to UD quality. It sports the naturally 'passive' 3D system, which is usually where Ultra HD do well most obviously.

 

The Sony XBR65X900B also makes the ultimate all-in-one home cinema. It's a stunning 65-incher with Magnetic Fluid forward-facing stereo speakers on either sides. Pair that with immense depth, this 4K TV is not your ordinary large screen.

 

The cinematic authenticity aspect of 4K Ultra HD should instantly make the format nigh-on irresistible to serious film fans.

 

 3. It Makes Your Full-HD TV Look Even Better and Future-Proofs Your Viewing Experience

There are two main reasons for this; one is the larger display with more pixels makes smoother-looking images 4x better than Full HD. Second, the rising technology used to convert 1080p content to 4096 (or 3840) x 2160p is futuristic in its brilliance.  The  Asus PB287Q may be considerably small compared to most expensive 4K displays in the industry, but it has an impeccable 4K quality, with 3840x2160-pixel resolution and impressive list of features. It has excellent versatility, great higlights and shadow performance, and excellent out-of-the-box color accuracy.

(image from Amazon)

The Sharp LC-70UD1U for example, is the very first Ultra HD screen to receive THX certification. This television features a 4H/UHD resolution of 3,840x2,160 pixels and the company's proprietary Revelation upscaler to upscale existing sources to the resolution of the panel. It comes with Smarter Content + Control for accessing popular apps, TV, music and movies and makes internet browsing, and sharing content through your smartphone and tablet more convenient. Its best feature is its slim and sleek design, which is said to be made from aircraft-grade aluminum bezel. It sports a unique arc stand which perfectly complements the TV's contemporary design.

 

The secret is in the details, having so many pixels boosts the picture quality of the display in to new heights, giving images more profound sense of depth. This makes Ultra HD look like 3D, even when they’re actually not. As a matter of fact, 4K is becoming essential for glass-free 3D. Let’s face it, wearing glasses to watch TV or movie in 3D is not the most comfortable and convenient thing to do. 4K paved the road for passive 3D viewing.

Also, resolution of Ultra HD TV isn’t just about quadrupling the resolution, it also supports faster frame rates, extended colors and whopping high contrast dynamics. A research from BBC and EBU suggests that images become more detailed and naturalistic in high native frame rates (up to 100Hz), making viewers to become more receptive.

Most TV manufacturing companies in the United States market – both the major and minor brands – have already committed to release their 4K display this year, 2014, with most of them existing as ‘premium offers’. At CES 2014 for example, there were dozens of 4K TVs in display from entry-level 50-inch types to the ridiculously affluent 105-inched curved TVs from big brands like LG and Samsung.

The Sony XBR-55X900A for example, makes an incredibly ambitious bid for TV greatness. With its 65-inch screen, this Ultra HD is one of the biggest 4K TV from Sony, and it packed with gloriously ambitious features, such as the 4k X-Reality PRO video processing, which makes Native Ultra HD pictures look incredible good. It also comes with better level of detail, color accuracy, and depth and clarity for impressively upscaling HD images.

Also, the ongoing experiments on 4K delivery ensure that the future is heading right to its way, as the general consensus for this technology seems to be very doable in the near future. You can see these tests from over the air, satellite to internet streaming. Despite the massive demand for data, some online video platforms are planning to raise their service to a new level by supporting 4K-quality streaming. One of world’s biggest providers of on-demand TV shows and internet streaming media – Netflix, for example, plans to support 4K viewing soon. As a matter of fact, they have started to remaster the massively popular TV drama Breaking Bad to 4K.

For avid Blu-ray collectors and fans, 4K Blu-Ray will be out soon, and rumors has it that it’s going to be magnificent.

4. Internet Browsing, Gaming, and Watching Movies Becomes Mind-Blowing

More and more Smart TV today lets you surf the web with larger and better display, the native resolution of 4K takes this convenience to greater heights as it offers incredible internet browsing experience. The internet becomes a killer app inside your TV; in viewing Google Maps for example, the TV automatically adjusts the available information with superb details.

The provision of Panasonic's 65-inch WT600 4K TV to DisplayPort v1.2a hooked up to PC with 4K graphics card makes an outstanding display. Dual Nvidia GeForce GTX Titans is definitely not a small investment to make, but if you’re an avid gamer, and this can be your treat to yourself, as the pixel-packed panels with massively high-frame rate gaming makes an astonishing experience.

Sony's incoming FDR-AX1E camcorder on the other hand, will allow you to record videos in 4K quality through the new XAVC S home format (derived from the broadcast of 4K video in the new XAVC acquisition format), which uses which uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. With this camcorder, you can record your family’s holiday activities, your vacation, baseball game of your kids, etc. in superb quality like you see in movies.


 5. 4K TV Will Make Watching your Favorite TV Sports Coverage Better Than Actually Being There

(image from Amazon)

International broadcasters like Sky are now considering 2160p 50/60Hz for their sports coverage in the new Ultra HD format. This makes fluid movements in unbeatable detail astounding, perfect for sports broadcasts like Football, Tennis, Basketball, etc. As a matter of fact, Sky Sports director Tony Mills said 4K TV could fundamentally alter the language of TV sports coverage. "The extra resolution means you no longer need to keep cutting to big close-ups.” You can clearly see the emotion on a player's face from a distance…" he said.

There are many reasons people dismiss 4K and see it as a fad. Like the Home 3D, they are largely derided because of being uncomfortable and gimmicky to use. However, these problems are not applicable to 4K. As a matter of fact, they are stylish and offer way better picture quality. Ironically, 4K makes 3D look even better, but that would be a totally different article.

data-custom-mark="true"At Page 2, we discussed how to get the most out of your 4K UHD display and where to find the best 4K contents. Click here for Page 2




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