The improvement from standard definition television to 1080P was only a few years ago, but as 4K televisions start to come down to more affordable prices – is it time to upgrade again?
4K (also known as UHD or UltraHD) is the tech term for displays with horizontal resolutions of around 4,000 pixels (in comparison with 1080P which defines displays with vertical resolutions of 1080 pixels) – so it is a major step change for high definition with 4K displays containing around four times as many pixels as a 1080P display in the same size.
Only a decade ago, people would think of a 40″ TV as huge, but no many of us have 50″ TVs at home, with the trend for ever larger screens looking to continue.
A standard definition display upscaled to 40″ was blurry and difficult to watch, so technology improved to catch up and we got 1080P displays – increasing the pixels per inch (PPI) and vastly improving the viewing experience. Now we have TVs of 50″ or bigger, so 1080P is starting to look a bit blocky but 4K technology is already here to fix that.
4K TVs will give you a modest improvement on smaller displays under 36″ or so, but once you get over 40″ you can really start to see the differences in picture quality. In fact, Panasonic 4K TVs start at 40″ as do those from many other manufacturers as you really need a big screen to take advantage of the new tech.
As with any new technology, 4K televisions today are slightly ahead of the curve. But Ultra HD Blu-rays are already on the market, and streaming services Netflix and YouTube already offer their own titles in 4K resolution. The underhand tactics of Frank Underwood have never looked as good.
Even more exciting is that the BBC have said that their next landmark nature documentary Planet Earth II will come in 4K. The original Planet Earth series defined high definition content, and with David Attenborough’s dulcet tones on narration it is very likely that Planet Earth II will do the same for 4K.
As the BBC say themselves:
“Shot in UHD, the epic scale of this series is second to none. Using the latest camera stabilisation, remote recording and aerial drone technology, we take the audience closer to nature and allow you to experience the wilderness as if you were there. Combining dramatic animal behaviour and incredible wildlife spectacle, Planet Earth II promises to give you the most immersive wildlife documentary experience to date.”
Sky is also looking to move into 4K content, with the company announcing that 4K will be coming to its new SKY Q set-top boxes this summer with the launch of UHD channels for both movies and sport. Films will be a good addition, but watching the Rio Olympics in glorious 4K will make a TV upgrade this summer absolutely worth it.