I've worked in the consumer electronics retail industry for over 13 years, selling everything from VCRs, digital cameras and DVD players to Blurays, A/V receivers and big screen TVs. So I've seen a lot of fads and gimmicks come and go. The hottest topic today is 4K Ultra HD televisions. Customers ask me all the time, “So what's the big deal about 4K? Many of these inquiries carry a sort of snarky, sarcastic tone just out of skepticism; but an equal number of people are genuinely curious and want to learn more about this exciting new visual technology before they make a buying decision.
Do I think this is just another 3D-like fad? Absolutely not. 4K (aka Ultra HD) televisions have four times the pixel density than Full HD (aka 1080p) TVs do, so their pictures simply look sharper. It's simple mathematics. If Full HD screens have 2 million pixels, and their pictures already look great, imagine how astonishing a picture with 8 million pixels would look? A sharper picture is a sharper picture; there's no way to refute that. Home 3D, on the other hand, does not make pictures look sharper or more life-like as it proposed. In fact, despite numerous attempts to embellish the technology over the last three years, the viewing experience is still uncomfortable and gimmicky if you asked me. What creates the 2D to 3D visual effect is not in fact the TV's native clarity; it's merely a menu setting with 3D enabled TVs coupled with the paper-thin colored eye glasses that you must wear, together which trick your eyes and brain to think you're seeing extra fields of depth that aren't really there. For the most part consumers have long realized by now that the home 3D experience is not all it was cracked up to be.
From a popularity standpoint you can best believe that 4K flat panel technology is just at the tip of the iceberg.
– As we expect more native 4K content to roll out in the next 2 to 5 years, the promise of future 4k broadcasting is one of the main reasons why anyone in the market for a new TV today should choose a 4K set over a 1080p set.
– Another reason is 4K Bluray is coming. Any day now, the Bluray Disc Association is expecting to release a 4K BD format that utilizes 100GB triple layer discs. It's said that the new system will also support high frame rate processing, so for all you action movie fans out there, you need to get ready for an epic movement in home cinema.
– Also worth mentioning is the fact that 4K internet streaming is already here. Netflix, for example, offers a conservative selection of movies and shows in 4K right now, but they're adding new titles almost every day. And guess what? Even if you have a Wi-Fi enabled Smart TV and a Netflix account already, none of this wonderful content is made available to you unless your connected Smart TV is also a 4K display.
Lastly, for those of you who are not moved by any of this fancy, new evolution mombo jumbo, but are more concerned about the here and now, I have news for you too.
– Top-tier brands of 4K Ultra HD TVs possess the ability to enhance the 1080p pictures from your current bluray library as well as those from network HD broadcasts and satellite signals. So if the other reasons I presented weren't convincing enough, the up-scaling power of today's 4K TV processors makes choosing a 4K TV over a Full HD TV a no-brainer.
As far as 4K prices go, yes they're still pretty hefty for the newer sets, but they're dropping rapidly. For example the first generation Sony 65″ 4K cost nearly $6K about 2 years ago. Fast forward to today, their newest top-tier set costs nearly half of what it used to, and it's better than the ones before it. As manufacturers increase their production to satisfy the growing demand for 4K displays, it's inevitable that prices will continue to tumble.
So whether you buy a 4K television now or later is ultimately up to your sense of urgency and your wallet. If you are definitely in the market to purchase a new flat panel TV, but you're still on the fence about whether you should make the beefy investment today or wait, here's what I suggest you do: Unless you're in dire need for a new big screen TV, just wait. The technology is only going to get better and prices are going to continue to fall. I believe that in enough time you will be able to spend for a brand new 60-inch 4K TV what you would have spent today for a same-sized 1080p set. If you buy it today instead, you might feel like kicking yourself tomorrow… but maybe not. Just go with your gut, okay? LOL!