When 4K first came out most of the folks buying them were early adopters — that is, people who buy new technology for themselves before it is widely adopted by the general public. Over the past year or so, however, more and more people have begun to upgrade to 4K.
As 2016 approaches, it is time to put a stake in the ground — if you’re looking to upgrade to a new television this year, 4K is the only way to go.
4K Content is Here!
If you turn on your TV and flip through the guide, the vast majority of the content you will find is high-definition, not 4K or 4K UltraHD — this is true! Just as it took a few years for everything to transition from standard definition to high-definition, the same goes for 4K content.
With that being said, we are beginning to see a major shift to 4K. CES 2017 runs Jan 6-9 and there is some buzz that lots of major manufacturers will be making 4K-related announcements that may speed up the process of widespread adoption. DirecTV recently announced that they will begin broadcasting live in 4K in early 2017 and 4K Blu-Ray players have been released in the US with more content all the time.
If you’re looking for on-demand content outside of physical media formats, there are a variety of great options. Vudu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are adding more and more content each month. Even Vimeo and YouTube are beginning to release content in 4K. Keep in mind that for any streaming service, speed is extremely important Netflix, for example, recommends a consistent bandwidth of 25 megabits or higher to reliably stream 4K.
To get the 4K signal to your TV, there are lots of great hardware options cropping up including the new Kaleidascape offerings, Roku 4, TiVo, Amazon 4K Fire TV, and Dish Network’s new 4K Joey.
The Difference is REAL
It’s true that from far enough away you won’t be able to see a real difference between 4K and 1080p. You could say the same thing about HD and standard-definition too though you may have to take a few extra steps back for the same results. However, in the average modern home, where standard living room TVs are getting larger while viewing distances are mostly staying the same, you will likely be able to see and appreciate the difference.
4K televisions have four times the pixels as 1080p High-Definition. With 4K, we’re quickly approaching a time where you can’t even distinguish individual pixels. While the difference may not seem like much, especially since nobody watches TV from close enough to see the pixels, the clarity creates an effect that is much more lifelike.
In addition to the increased resolution, some 4K television manufacturers are beginning to offer a feature known as HDR (high-dynamic range). If the resolution doesn’t win you over, HDR likely will. HDR has taken the industry by storm over the past few months and is only offered on 4K models. While the content may not be there right now, it’s a difference maker and will likely speed up the entire 4K adoption process.
It’s true that when 4K TVs first came out, they were probably not a good financial decision, especially considering the price of 1080p HD TVs. Outside of the geekiest early adopters, the average consumer likely couldn’t justify the cost.
Over the past 12 months, however, prices have come down significantly. This is no different than what happened when HD first came out or really when any new technology comes out. Eventually, as the tech is widely adopted and improved, prices begin to fall — 4K is no different in this respect. Over the next couple of years prices will continue to slowly drop until eventually they level out briefly before the next technology comes in and disrupts the entire ecosystem once again.
In a day where people upgrade their mobile phones every 1-2 years, most people still tend to keep their TVs for an average of 7 years. If you buy a new 1080p TV today, you will likely miss a whole generation of great content in 4K! In addition, most 4K TVs offer upconverting, meaning your 1080p shows and movies will look better on the 4K TV than it does on your existing set.
If you currently own a 1080p HD television, there’s nothing wrong with it, and you’re not a TV or movie buff, you may not want to rush out and buy a new 4K TV. We can understand why you wouldn’t. But if your TV is getting towards the end of its life, you feel it’s time for something new, or you want to get the best viewing experience possible, we believe it’s time to make the leap to 4K.