4K Ultra HD TV – why it's time to upgrade
Four times sharper than full HD, Netflix streaming, great for sport and totally future-proof - why a 4K Ultra HD TV is a sound investment
19 Feb 2014
4K Ultra HD TVs are four times sharper than current high-end sets - and in 2014 they'll go seriously living room friendly. Why? Because at the CES tech show in Las Vegas 4K Ultra HD came of age as a realistic option for your next TV.
We saw smaller, more affordable sets, Netflix 4K streaming and the backing of the world's top TV manufacturers, Samsung, LG and Sony. Here's why you really should be bothered about 4K this year.
The picture is four times better than full HD
With 4K Ultra HD you'll have four times the resolution of your regular full HD set.
John Archer at Expert Reviews said: "More pixels means more detail: 4K Ultra HD TVs have 8.3 million pixels while current Full HD TVs have just over two million."
But it's about more than just pixels, according to Steve May at TechRadar. In his piece 11 reasons why your next TV has to be an Ultra HD 4K, he explains how it also offers "faster contrast rates, insane contrast dynamics and extended colours".
Netflix streaming content in 4K
TechRadar said 2014 will be the year of 4K content. The most significant step in this direction is Netflix beginning to stream content in 4K Ultra HD.
This was first announced at CES in Las Vegas, and was launched this week. The service is initially compatible with 4K TVs containing the built-in H.265/HEVC decoder. This includes most of the major-brand 2014 4K Ultra HD TVs announced at CES this year, according to tech site Cnet.
It will initially be available on a select number of programmes.
Netflix director of corporate communications Joris Evers told TechRadar: "We believe Netflix will be the way most people will get 4K content."
LG, Samsung and Sony all announced partnerships with Netflix for their 4K TVs.
Programmes, movies and sport is being shot in 4K
We are on the cusp of the age of 4K Ultra HD content. A Sony spokesperson said: "Broadcasters across the world are now talking about the reality of broadcasting in 4K in the not too distant future."
And as well as streaming in 4K, Netflix is also going to shoot its own programmes using the technology. Speaking at CES, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said all its own new series were being filmed in 4K.
As well as making 4K TVs, Sony makes 4K cameras and projectors that are used in filmmaking and cinemas.
A Sony spokesperson said the firm was involved from "production of content through to 4K digital cinema and bringing the best 4K experience in to your living room".
It's great for sport
Sports fans have plenty to look forward to with 4K Ultra HD - with Steve May hailing the "fluidity of movement that the technology offers, complete with unbeatable detail".
Fans can expect detail sharp enough to convey how a player is feeling at crucial moments such as a missed penalty. Sky Sports director Tony Mills told May that with 4K "you can clearly see the emotion on a player's face from a distance".
Some have futuristic curved screens
At CES 2014 Samsung unveiled four curved Ultra HD TVs and president Andy Griffiths told TechTalk curved TVs are "the next chapter of viewing".
He said: "With the curve screen you have this fantastically immersive experience, so it's the natural cinematic view."
The U9000 curved UHD - Samsung flagship model for 2014 - is available in both 65 and 55-inch models, so you can fit it on your wall.
It'll make shows shot in regular HD look miles better…
When watching shows shot in full HD rather than 4K, your 4K set will give you a far better picture than your regular TV ever did. That's because 4K TVs are designed to also upscale regular content to near 4K quality.
Samsung chief Andy Griffiths explained: "The great things about the screens themselves is they upscale content and convert a lot of the content on your TV. So you can genuinely enjoy the benefits of 4K Ultra HD whatever you're feeding in to the panel."
The sets are getting cheaper…
Although jaw-dropping, those first, huge 4K TVs were never going to fit on the living room wall in your average three-bed semi. Now we have a generation of 4K TVs that will fit - without breaking the bank.
4K is the future so TVs are a 'sound investment'
If you're worried that 4K is the new 3D, then you need to think again. It's not a fad, it's the future - and it really is here to stay.
Andy Griffiths at Samsung said: "The encouraging message to consumers is 4K Ultra HD is certainly future-proof. In a year, in the next few years there will be more and more native 4K Ultra HD content so it's worth investing in now."
4K Ultra HD is the future, not a fad. Find out more about 4K TVs and our range of sets here.