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What You Need to Know About 4K TVs
Source: SonyThe next generation of televisions are beginning to emerge; they are called UHD or 4K TVs and they provide a much higher resolution display than your HDTV. You would think that higher resolution displays allow you to see more details however, the big question is whether or not your eye can see the difference. Many experts will tell you that higher resolution screens are a waste of money but we don’t agree and, in fact, we have always been amazed at the level of clarity and detail we could see in the large screen 4K TVs on display at CES in recent years. Ultra High Definition TVs or UHD TVs, as 4K TVs are called, are a natural progression from HDTV just as HDTV grew out of Standard Definition (SD) TVs. The new 4K TVs are expensive and there isn’t a lot of programming available for them just yet but everything seems to be coming together around UHDTVs including content, codecs, a new HDMI standard and more. UHDTVs are beginning to appear in the market and although they are little on the pricey side now, we expect the prices to come down fast so if you’re planning on buying a new TV you might want to consider purchasing one of these now if you’re an early adopter and want to own the state-of-the-art in televisions or you could also wait a little while until they become more affordable.
What is 4K TV?The current resolution for Full HD, 1080p HDTVs is 1920 x 1080 pixels. UHD doubles each dimension to 3840 x 2160 which although is technically not 4K (4096), it is close enough to be called “4K.”. Although there is lots of 4K content being produced including movies which are shot with 4K cameras like the Arri Alexa and Red Epic and then shown in movie theaters across America, 40% of which have 4K projection systems. Distribution to homes will be one of the challenges of 4K TV requiring new compression techniques, new optical discs and even a new over-the-air broadcast standard; all of which are in development. It’s a common believe that 4K only make sense for the home on very large TV screens like 70 – 80-inches and for viewers sitting very close to the screen. In fact, the rule of thumb for viewing distance for HDTV which is 3X the height of the TV has been adjusted to 1.5X the height for a 4K TV. Despite these new constraints we think you’ll still find 4K TVs smaller than 70-inches more enjoyable to watch even at distances greater than several feet.
What Programming is Available?In addition to providing 4K content to outlets that can currently display it, most studios and content creators are migrating to 4K and putting a “4K master in the archive.” We understand that many TV shows are now shot in 4K including many sporting events and have read about a possible 4K transmission of the 2014 World Cup match. In a recent article in Trusted Reviews listing some good reasons why 4K TV is on the move, John Archer mentions that employees at Sony’s Colorworks facility say, “it’s only once you get up to the 4K pixel level that you can scan 35mm film into digital form without losing significant amounts of the texture, detail, graduation subtlety and color refinement contained in the ‘analogue’ celluloid image.” According to TVNewsCheck, ESPN “is building a brand new, massive sports production center that Chief Technology Officer Chuck Pagano says will be future proof — able to handle upcoming 4K and 8K production.” Pagano added, “My current production facility is all 720p. This next one will be somewhat format agnostic, but the core will all be 1080p. That doesn’t mean I am going to be distributing a 1080p product, but I am going to master it in 1080p natively, but also have a mechanism for me to deal with 4K or 8K in the future with relative minimal disruption in the plant.”
Programming Distribution ChallengeGetting 4K content into the home will be a major challenge for cable and satellite providers as well as disc makers. For $699 you can buy a Sony Ultra HD Media Player that comes pre-loaded with 10, 4K movies and some other 4K “bonus” material but a more affordable solution will require a new Blu-ray standard or other medium like a flash memory-based media card. Currently Blu-ray is limited to 50GB however, a compressed 4K movie may require twice that (100GB) and for an uncompressed movie it could run in the 200GB range. Word is that the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is expected to announce support for a new Codec (compressor/decompressor) called H.265, more commonly referred to as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC which will be the successor to the current H.264 or MPEG4. The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is also working on a new broadcast standard called ATSC 3.0 which will include UHDTV broadcast signals for over-the-air reception.
HDMI 2.0 is Coming SoonThe current version of HDMI, 1.4a can handle 4K signals but only up to 30 frames per second which is adequate for most content but a new spec is about to be released that increases the throughput per channel from 3.4Gbps to 6Gbps or 18Gbps total max TMDS which would allow for 60fps 4K video. Waiting for HDMI support might be another reason to hold off on a purchase of a new TV, receiver, or Blu-ray player.
Upconversion or Upscaling Will Have to Do For NowUntil a practical distribution scheme for 4K programming materializes the next best thing to actual 4K content will be 2K (or less) content that is upscaled to 4K content. Upscaling requires processing power and sophisticated algorithms to make a calculated guess about what additional pixels would be like based on what’s present, and it has to do it in real-time. If done poorly, upscaling can make the image look worse. Furthermore the better the original material the better the upscaled image can be. Toshiba recently released their first 4K TV sets with a 2nd generation CEVO processor they claim produces superior upscaling. Sony is promoting 4K-mastered Blu-ray discs that although won’t play 4K content may look better when upconverted to 4K by a Blu-ray player like the Oppo BDP 105, Samsung BD-F7500, a receiver or the 4K TV itself.
4K TVs Could Revive 3DTV3DTV which has not been well received by consumers requires either an active glass technology whose glasses require batteries and tend to be a bit bulkier than passive glasses but deliver two 1080p frames unlike passive 3D that only delivers 540 lines per frame which can create a noticeable “raster” line. 4K TVs will not only allow passive 3D to deliver two 1080p frames but could also help make autostereoscopic or glasses-free TV an acceptable experience. Sony has been promoting the ability of their 4K BRAVIA TV to show two different 2D images on the same screen to game players which is another cool feature of 4K TVs
4K TV Roundup There are currently only a handful of 4K TVs on the market and they are a bit on the expensive side although a lot less so than just a year ago.
Two “Affordable” XBR 4K TVs From SonySony has been very aggressive in the 4K market offering two TVs priced somewhat reasonably and other 4K gear including a media player, projector, receiver, and even the PlayStation 4 which supports 4K content. For $4999 you can buy a Sony XBR-55X900A with “4K X-Reality™ PRO Picture Engine, two 65W front-facing speakers, TRILUMINOS display, Dynamic Edge LED backlight, Motionflow™ XR 960, wireless smartphone mirroring technology, plus 4 pairs of 3D glasses.” For $2,000 more you can get the Sony XBR-65X900A 65-inch Ultra HD TV.
Seiko is Back With a Low Cost 4K TVYou can get this 50-inch Seiko SE50UY04 4K for under $1,000 (it retails for $1499) but early reviews indicate you may get what you pay for with this set, as one reviewer said, “the SE50UY04 is a mediocre TV that just happens to be 4K,” although to be fair reviewers do say a 4K image does look pretty good close-up.
LG’s New 4K TVs Have Lots of High-End FeaturesLG recently announce two new 4K TVs in its LA9700 series; a $6,000 55-inch model and an $8,000 65-inch model. They both incorporate LG’s Nano full-array LED backlight technology which creates 144 local dimming “zones.” A novel new sound system includes a motorized soundbar that slides out of view when not in use and a subwoofer that hides behind the screen. These sets use LG’s four-step Tru-Ultra HD technology to upscale HD content and they are also some of the first sets we’re aware of to offer an HEVC decoder. Only thing missing is HDMI 2.0.
Toshiba’s 4K TVs Could Be the Upscaling ChampsToshiba’s $4,999 58-inch, $6,999 65-inch, and $16,999 84-inch, Series L9300U 4K TVs are set to go on sale next month. Each of these sets include Toshiba’s CEVO 4K Quad Dual Core processor which according to Toshiba incorporates their newest “Color and Depth Adaptive Resolution+ and Texture Restoration algorithms.” Toshiba’s latest TVs also offer lots of cool features including a Cloud TV with lots of connectivity options like Wi-Fi, Miracast and WiDi.
Samsung Affordable 4K TVs Make Their DebutAt CES this year Samsung was showing off its large $40,000 85-inch UHDTV set. When Sony launched their XBR sets Samsung didn’t counter until just now with a the $5,499 55-inch UN55F9000 and $7,999 65-inch UN65F9000. The new 4K sets offer the same “Precision Black Local Dimming with Micro Dimming Ultimate,” that reviewers liked so much in the UNF8000 sets. The F9000 also includes a built-in camera for Skyping and gesture control along with voice recognition and a touch-pad remote. Unlike the Sony and LG sets Samsung is sticking with active shutter glasses which should look pretty good with 4K 2160-line frames to each eye. Samsung claims its upscaled images will look better than its competitors with its “Quadmatic Picture Engine.” The sets also offer a beefed up 70-watt sound system.
Bottom Line: 4K TVs Are Definitely NOT a Stupid IdeaIn an industry where timing is everything, we have to ask if this is the right time to be purchasing a 4K UHDTV set. Although the prices are somewhat reasonable for the 55-inch sets, you may have to sit pretty close to them to fully appreciate the clarity and level of detail. Some say an 80-inch set is the optimal size for a 4K TV but we think you would be happy with one as “small” as 65 inches. We also don’t think there will be much native 4K content easily accessible for a little while but we’re also confident that everything will fall into place in that department soon. Aside from waiting for the prices to come down and programming to appear we also might be inclined to wait for HDMI 2.0 and HEVC-equipped sets. Unlike our friends at CNET we don’t think 4K TV is “stupid” and based on what we’ve seen with our own eyes we would love to have one in our living room right now.

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4K TVs

In the real world, where millions of real people are dying from starvation and rampant disease, I do not think 4K media content is the least bit important.

Sincerely,

Perrymike

Reply

This is a High Tech Topic. With all my respects, Your social aconcerns will suit better in a social responsability site. By the way what are You doing for the starving people, around the world or around your community ?

He makes stupid comments in

He makes stupid comments in wrong places.

4K article

Just wanted to let you folks know that it was very nice to read an article that wan't written by a salesman ( although one mayhave whispered in the writers ear occasionally). All the questions I've had in the last year or so were answered in a concise and mostly objective way. I wil be a "waiter" because I am no longer wealthy. :)
I hope the new formats to be written don't have to have the FCC involved or it won't happen in my lifetime. I was around for the wait for HD, all 30 or more years. I remember some old friends at Sony calling and saying "Are you americans going to get on the ball or do we have to wait for your kids to decide!". As it turned out I'm sure it was some of their kids that decided.
Thanks again!

Too bad the Human Eye can't

Too bad the Human Eye can't see above 1100dpi. Having been in the print output business from day one. I learned that are were output devices that were just unnecessary. I had a Scitex neg printer that could do 2540dpi, but why bother when the Human Eye can only see up to 1100. Plus it's a flaw, Persistence of Vision, in the Human condition that allows us to see all the still pictures presented on the screen as moving. So add up all the gimmicks and soon they'll be making TV's that a Human can't even watch. And since neither 2k or 4k are actually 2,000 px or 4,000 px, is it like 4G is actually 3G, with a generic gimmick name? Which there is no 4G. Just a bunch of potentially fast cell services that could be 4G one day. But aren't now.

re: Too bad the Human Eye can't...

HDMI / Blue rays is "good enough" for just about any movie ever filmed.

For new films, while the 4K spec is interesting and may be useful for theaters and large home screens, a more useful and visible improvement would be to shoot at 60 FPS instead of 24 or 30. The smoothness is readily apparent, and is visible at any resolution. IMAx makes good use of this frame rate and some of the images, along with a large hi-res screen, are stunning.

BTW, it took a dozen tries to figure out the Captcha code.
It doesn't have to be this difficult.58Hcmw7