Understanding the hype of 4K Television
How do we define Ultra High Definition or 4K?
The pace is gathering and the marketeer’s are full of it, actually more full of it than normal. Why, because 4K has arrived, or so they would have us believe. We see them in every electronics store now, 4K TV’s – the year’s latest must have, and 4K cameras so that you can film your family’s new arrival or the marriage of the decade all in glorious Ultra High Definition. But looking past all that hype, why are we being sold on UHD when most of the population are still happy to watch broadcast television in SD (standard definition)?
Let us first define what we mean by Ultra High Definition (4K). Standard definition (SD) is 1024 pixels wide, high definition (HD) is 1,920 pixels wide and 4K(UHD) is 4,096 pixels wide.
The truth is that the market place is saturated when it comes to selling televisions. Most households now have at least one wide screen 16:9 television set. Some of us have even bought LED TV’s. Television sets are not something that you buy every month, or every year, but probably every 10 years or so and the market is stagnating. Something is needed to kick start the industry, so what better than to promise you the most outstanding picture quality you have ever experienced, and in your own home! Fetch forth the comfy chair and the 4K UHD TV!
Actually, at normal viewing distances in most homes 4K is irrelevant. To experience the benefits of 4K you need to have a large screen size e.g. 50”+ and sit at a much closer distance than you would currently do to watch an HD picture. Most people sit at about 2 – 3.5 metres from their screen, so to watch in HD you would ideally need a screen size of no more than 40”. But doesn’t a UHD television give a better, clearer picture with more definition?
How to work out the difference 4K might make to your viewing experience
Try this experiment.
During your next summer beach holiday look at the sand and start counting the grains of sand by your foot. Now try counting the grains of sand about 3 metres away from your foot. You notice that you can see the individual grains of sand near to you but it’s impossible to distinguish the individual grains further away. To the human eye it has ceased to resolve the grains of sand and it just sees a sandy beach.
Like the grains of sand on the beach the ideal viewing distance for 4K is much closer than you might think; the closer you sit to the screen the more definition you will see, but do you want to sit closer to the screen just to get a more defined picture or would you be happy to have a TV set 80”+ sitting in your lounge? The limiting factor is the human eye and not the number of pixels that make up the picture. You have to ask the question why are most people still happy to watch television in standard definition if high definition offers so much more picture quality and why hasn’t Blu-ray disk technology taken off in the way the marketing pundits told us it would? Oh, and what happened to the previous promise from the marketeer’s, that 3D television would revolutionise our in-home entertainment, confined now to history alongside Betamax and the 8-Track. The next time you are in a store count how many 3D UHD TV’s are on sale, Q.E.D!
Don’t get me wrong, I love tech, I embrace tech, I even bow to that great Oriental tech god SONY, but let’s look past the hype and consider for a moment, is this a step into the wondrous new tech future or just the latest market hype to sell more tellys in a totally saturated marketplace?
By the way, Super Ultra High Definition (SUHD aka 8K) is on the way – I really must buy a UHD before they run out………of epithets!!!!