Should I Buy a 4K television now? NO!


Should I buy a 4K television now? NO!
James Layton

I want my 4K TV
It seems that almost everyone who heavily uses video displays is talking up 4K video. This would include movie fans, video producers, gamers and even the consumer electronics industry. Computer video cards are beginning to have 4K capabilities. Video camera manufactures, like RED and Blackmagic, are releasing cameras capable of 4K and above. DSLR cameras with video capabilities, such as the Canon 5D mark III, have been hacked (Magic Lantern) to squeeze out more dynamic range and 4K. There are even rumors of a Canon 5D mark IV with 4K, no hack needed. 4K is here and it is not going away. But what is 4K anyway and should I care? Filmmakers wanted higher resolution on the big movie screens. Avatar was the first movie to really drive theaters to get projectors capable of projecting at 4K spec content. Even if you sat up close, near the big screen, the picture was crisp. Simply put, 4K has a higher resolution than 1080p. Four times. Great for huge screens in theaters. What about 4K televisions? Will we see the difference?

Size Matters-especially length
Chris Heinonen at devised a 4K Calculator to figure out if a 4K television would be “worth” getting. The calculator revealed that most people sitting in a normal living room will not actually see any improvement over 1080p. Why not? At the typical 10 foot viewing distance our eyes simply CANNOT see the difference in resolution. On a huge movie screen it matters, but not in your home theater. Here is what is important to know. Up close, as in tablets and phones, higher resolution really helps keep things clear and easy to see. Computer monitors are also viewed fairly close. Higher resolution keeps text crisp and details pop out of the screen. Gamers also thirst for higher resolution since they have their nose in the monitor and need to see every virtual detail in order to remain alive. But with a television the benefits quickly fall away. With a 50 inch TV and about ten feet of viewing distance, you will not be able to see any difference between 1080p and 4K. Only if you sat “too close” to the screen would the pixels on the 1080p screen start be visible. If this is not enough to throw water on your 4K fire “stay tuned” because there is more.
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Look Close---Reeeeaallly close

Samsung’s senior director of sales and marketing (Europe) dropped a bombshell implying that no current 4K televisions being produced today will be compatible with future 4K standards. We’ve been here before. There are concerns about 4K Blu-ray, 4K streaming and HDMI 2.0. 4K is said to require faster streaming capabilities and will require the latest HDMI standard. We are also hearing about Verizon and Comcast butting heads with Netflix and Amazon about bandwidth issues. Imagine what 4K will do to the streaming pipeline. Details are still being hammered out. No doubt we will be paying more to stream content in the future.

At What Cost?
What about the cost of a 4K television? Sure, one can find really cheap Seiki 4K televisions on line. Are they good quality? Will they hold up? How is support? I do not know. It seems that early adopters are buying them to get a taste of 4K. But why are the name brands many thousands of dollars more? What is being sacrificed, if anything, in the lower cost units? I’m tempted to buy one. I’ve bought a lot of camera accessories that are obvious knock-offs from China. Some are excellent, others not so much. But they are so cheap I am willing to take the risk. I am sure these questions will be answered in the near future.

Sitting Home Alone With A 4K
So you bought a 4k. Now what? What are you going to watch? The indie filmmakers are jumping on the 4K wagon because they understand, more than consumers, the improvement it brings to film in a technical sense. They are a tweaking (not twerking) community, always reaching for more creative tools. This means that most of the 4K content is being created out of love for film rather than film for profit. RED, maker of 4K video equipment, has released the Redray player ($1250) which allows us to view RED’s proprietary 4K format. RED has partnered with to allow 4K downloads to view with Redray. Not that into it? Be at peace because both Amazon and Netflix are rolling out streaming 4K programming…a little bit at a time. Youtube is 4K compatable, allowing filmmakers to upload their creations for viewing. What about Blu-Ray? SD content? What will it look like on 4K? All 4K televisions will upscale content. Old SD movies will probably not look all that different. Experts say the quality of the scaler in your TV could make the difference when upconverting Blu-Ray to 4K.
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Redray 4K content player

Think It Through

So what will you do? Get a big screen and sit really close to see the difference? Not me. Will millions of people run out and buy 4K and scrap their current 1080? Doubtful. Did you know that 8K is possible and being worked out as we speak? I think I am going to sit tight and go with what I have for a while. A lot of insiders think there is still a lot of shakedown testing to do which includes standardizing the hardware, software, marketing and delivery methods for 4K and beyond. I AM curious about those cheap 4K monitors…Hmmm.


Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
Until there is content and a big drop in price, no way. For most people, current HD TV sets work fine, and hey - WE JUST BOUGHT THE DAMN THINGS!!!