- Author Kashfia Kabir
- Published April 17, 2014
How to buy an ULTRA HD 4K TV
The next generation of TV is here. ULTRA HD 4K sets offer a truly amazing picture – but what should you look for when you buy one?
Our current Full HD screens look great as they are. But imagine four times that resolution. At 3840 x 2160 resolution, an ULTRA HD 4K TV packs in a mammoth 8.3 million pixels into its screen. Full HD has a mere 2 million. ULTRA HD 4K detail is pin-sharp and colours and contrast are breathtakingly accurate.
You’ll soon be ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ at these stunning new screens at your local TV dealer but there are a few things to look out for before you bag one for yourself.
With Full HD screens, you have to sit a certain distance away to enjoy the full effect – around 2m for a 50in TV, for example. Any closer, and you’ll start to see the pixels making up the picture.
But here’s the fun thing with ULTRA HD 4K TVs: as there are four times as many pixels crammed into the same space, you’ll need to be within nose-touching distance of the screen before you glimpse an outline of a single pixel. The result? You can buy a large screen size and sit as close as you like to enjoy a fantastic image.
Just make sure that your giant new TV will fit through the front door.
What to watch
Those extra few pixels take up a lot more space than would fit a Blu-ray disc so how do we watch our favourite TV shows?
There is a way and that way is Netflix. The popular streaming service has this month started streaming series two of House of Cards… in ULTRA HD. Another show getting the 4K treatment is Breaking Bad, which you’ll soon be able to stream over Netflix as well.
YouTube also has 4K streaming in the works, and BBC and Sky have done trials broadcasting sports in the higher resolution. There are several matches in that big football tournament in Brazil that’ll be shot in 4K… But for now, it’s about time you got that Netflix account.
The most important spec you’ll need to remember for ULTRA HD TVs is the HEVC H.265 codec. It’s the video compression standard that makes it possible to stream 4K Netflix content to your TV, so make sure your brand new set has that firmly in its specs.
Elsewhere, you’ll want to make sure you have enough HDMI inputs for your sources (three at least), USB ports for stored media, a digital optical output for soundbar needs, and an Ethernet port (or built-in Wi-Fi) for connecting to your home network. A Freeview HD and/or Freesat tuner is also crucial for watching broadcast TV.
Upscaling is your friend
While we wait for 4K content to gather momentum, we still have hordes of DVDs, Blu-rays and standard and high-definition Freeview channels just waiting to be watched. The tech wizardry behind ULTRA HD 4K panels has powerful upscalers to fit the lower-resolution picture on to the screen.
Kashfia Kabir is Multimedia Journalist on What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine.
Take a look at the drop-dead gorgeous range of ULTRA HD 4K TVs from LG here >>>