Posted by: Luke
Technology is constantly evolving, which can have its drawbacks. For instance, you might very well mourn the loss of your trusty 24 inch CRT TV, or the sputtering old desktop computer now yearning for the sweet embrace of the scrap heap.
It's also true that many might (understandably) feel a little bit sour about the need to 'upgrade' every few years - this is particularly common with smart phones - tossing out equipment that cost a small fortune and is still fully functional. However, many people love to have the latest and best technology - and that includes us right here at Superfi. Having the best experience possible at our fingertips when it comes to our home entertainment, and for us, right now, that means 4K. Indeed, even those on the “not for me” side of the fence will almost certainly change their tunes when they actually set their eyes on a mesmerising 4k TV in all its glory.
Up until a few years ago, 4k was very much a burgeoning technology, with very few applications that actually supported it. In 2016 though, purchasing a 4k TV won't make you an early adopter, it will make you a smart buyer, making an investment in the future of your entertainment needs. As is the case with all new formats, those who get in on the ground floor will be paying a premium to do so, but 4k is slowly becoming the new standard, so we're not on the ground floor anymore. Still, it's only natural that you might still have a few questions, and if that's the case, here we'll be examining not only why you should consider pulling the trigger on your 4k TV, but which make and model might be best for you.
What is 4k?
Technically, the 4k refers to the number 4000, and the amount of pixels which make up the image on the screen. In this case, that is over 8 million! It goes without saying that the larger the amount of pixels on screen, the sharper the image, the deeper the colours and the more options for upscaling. Most modern HD TVs will output at 1080p, which means a pixel density of 1920 x 1080, but a true 4k TV can potentially output 4096 x 2160, which is more than 4 times sharper than what we currently classify as high definition. Please note, however, that most 4k compatible TVs will actually output at 3840 x 2160, which is still very impressive, but it's not technically TRUE 4k. For a true 4k experience, you're going to be paying quite a bit more, but to be honest, it's unlikely you'd be able to tell the difference unless you were an expert.
Is 4k worth it?
If you watch a lot of movies, and want to enjoy your cinematic experiences without compromise, then yes, it is definitely worth it. There are also other benefits to consider too:
Bragging rights – OK, this is a little petty, but who doesn't love showing off? We are a nation of gadget lovers, after all, and we love the idea of inviting our friends over to marvel at our wares.
Gaming – If you happened to catch the recent E3 press conferences from Microsoft and Sony, you'll know that 4k gaming is on the horizon. Indeed, if you're a PC gamer, it's already here! For those of us who prefer gaming with our feet up though, both Sony and Microsoft are planning to release new iterations of their PS4 and Xbox One consoles in the 18 months, which will take full advantage of 4k. Once you've gamed in 4k, you'll never want to go back.
Affordability – Whilst when 4k TVs made their first foray into the market, they were only available to those of us with the deepest wallets and the most insatiable lusts for technology. However, fast-forward to 2016 and you'll be able to find a 4k TV to fit any budget. The vast majority of these models will also include Smart TV functionality. A Smart TV includes its very own processor and operating system, meaning you'll be able to catch up on all your favourite shows, browse the internet and organise every facet of your entertainment from one simple, elegant, gorgeous interface, without having to attach an extra games console or media centre.
Netflix – It won't be news to anyone to learn that Netflix, and services like it, have overtaken the movie rental stores of the nineties and early noughties to become the primary source of home cinematic entertainment for most of us. If your broadband connection is fast enough (you'll definitely want a fibre optic connection) you should soon also be able to watch Netflix in stunning 4k definition. That is, of course, if you have a television built to support it. Considering the sheer size of optical media required to store 4k films, it's unlikely that a mainstream format will emerge to overtake Blu-Ray, and though 4k Blu-Rays do actually exist, they are generally downscaled slightly in order to fit on the disc. The future of home movies then, is definitely in online streaming, which is the perfect platform for 4k!
Future proof – Buy a decent 4k set now and it should quite comfortably last you for the next decade at least (until 8k becomes the new standard). If, however, you are in the market for a new set and instead opt for a more affordable model, in just a couple of years you'll find yourself in the market for a new set that can support 4k. So why not cut out any future inconveniences now and take that leap! You won't regret it.
Making your decision!
The first thing you'll want to do (make that, need to do) is figure out just how much room you have in your home, because the vast majority of 4k TVs are pretty large. They are also, however, generally rather slim, so you won't need much room behind them.
You'll also want to check your budget, as you don't want to end up spending more than you can afford. Your TV would look great either way, but it's pretty difficult to enjoy ultra high definition high entertainment if you're looking bankruptcy in the face. Thankfully, there are now various 4k televisions on the market that fall under the £1000 mark, with most of them clocking in between 40 and 55 inches size-wise. If you want something a little more impressive you'll need to splash out a little more, but for most homes, 55 inches should be more than enough.
Something else to take into consideration is which brand you feel comfortable with. The four big players in the 4k market right now are Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung, each of which will provide you with great quality and some world class customer service (should you require it). Samsung and LG tend to produce the most affordable sets, and they are fine televisions, but generally lack the quality of sound reproduction and more in-depth Smart features of the more pricey Sony and Panasonic models. You'll also generally have to pay a little more is you opt for a curved model, but take note that curved sets are not necessarily suitable for all tastes.
So. Is 4k completely necessary? Not at all. But is it the future of entertainment? Absolutely!
Hopefully we've been able to help you make an informed decision regarding your first foray into the world of ultra high definition, and we just know you'll never look back!