At the most recent Consumer Electronics Show, 4K and Ultra High Definition (UHD) video content and screens were the talk of the show. Consumers are now being told that 4K / UHD is the Next Big Thing, but they aren’t being given the whole story. Here are 6 very good reasons not to make the switch—at least, not yet.
1. Your existing, non-4K content will look terrible on the new screen.
Consumers have been down this road before, but this time it’s different because while a UHD screen can display non-4K, non-UHD content, the lower-resolution content looks awful on a 4K / UHD screen. It’s like watching a VHS video on an HDTV: I hope you like your picture grainy and somewhat pixelated.
Also important to remember: even if you intend to replace all the SD and HD videos you already own (see next bullet point), you’ll have no control over all the SD and merely HD content being piped to your TV via broadcast and premium channels.
2. The cost of the new TV is only the beginning: 4K / UHD will cost you for years to come.
Replacing your video content is the first, and most obvious cost associated with making this switch, and it won’t be cheap. A listing for the movie This Is The End in digital 4K briefly appeared on Amazon this week, at a price of $29.99. That’s THREE TIMES as much as the same movie currently costs in HD. How much you wanna bet the really premium titles, like Disney/Pixar and brand-new releases, will be priced even higher?
Yet another issue will be availability: there are still some movies I’ve owned in VHS or on DVD that were never made available in digital video format. It’s not safe to assume it’ll even be possible to replace your entire video library.
But the cost of the content is not the end of this expensive story. You will also have to upgrade your router and home entertainment service network—when those upgrades become available, see next bullet point—and that means paying more for those things going forward, forever.
3. Your internet and digital entertainment service providers can’t handle it yet.
Netflix already offers some of its content in 4K / UHD, but it makes no difference if the data stream is being throttled—as Netflix has admitted it does with plain old HD and SD content already.
The amount of data contained in a 4K video is four times as much as what you’re currently getting with HD. I had to upgrade my internet service speed and router last year just to be able to stream HD video to two locations on my network at once without signal drop-outs, visible pixelation or buffering delays on either video. Since 4K requires four times as much bandwidth, the only way I’d be able to watch 4K videos on my network at all would be to download them first: and that download would be HUGE! It would bring the speed of my network and internet connection to a crawl for a couple of hours.
And I have the fastest network connection currently available from my provider.
4. You’ll need a UHD TV that’s 55″ or bigger to appreciate the difference in resolution, if you intend to sit any further than three feet from the set.
Yup, the distance between you and the image definitely makes a difference in picture quality and even perceptible screen resolution.
This chart from A/V tech expert Carlton Bale shows you all you need to know by plotting distance from the screen against video resolution.
Most consumers position the couch or viewing chairs somewhere between 6-9 feet from the TV. In order for you to see a noticeable difference in the 4K / UHD picture at that viewing distance, you would need a screen that’s 90 – 145″ across (measuring on the diagonal).
5. Entertainment industry tech experts are not on board.
If nothing I’ve said so far has convinced you to wait a while longer before taking the 4K / UHD plunge, maybe the advice of William Scanlon, “a film/broadcast producer with 25 years experience covering most aspects of the broadcast game” will. From Scanlon’s Techradar post:
At the recent IBC industry gathering I attended in Amsterdam, industry professionals were wowed by standard HD content displayed on a professional HDR monitor. And markedly less wowed by the mass of 4K standard dynamic range content on offer.
Click here to read the entire post, which goes into great detail about all the many practical and technological reasons why, in Scanlon’s opinion, 4K / UHD is not yet ready for prime time.
6. 8K is already here!
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Tech Tip of the Week: Simple Utility To Keep Microsoft From Sneaking Windows 10 Onto Your Machine
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