It is a tale as old as time. Cassette versus 8-track. Vinyl takes on CD. VHS against Beta-Max. Blu-Ray ‘s dominance over HD-DVD. Now, it looks as if 4k TV may be surging away from 3D TV to take a foothold in the ever evolving TV technology game. While both technologies are still very new, and very much luxury items, the way that HD TVs were a few years ago, there are signs that 4k will be the format that more and more people will be watching their entertainment on at home.
4k TVs are televisions with four times the pixels of normal HD TVs. This is a bit of a misnomer, however. It is true that 4k movie screens have four times the resolution of a standard 1080p screen. 4k TVs, though, do not. In fact, they tend to top out at around 3840p. While this is a negligible difference mostly undetected by human eyes, it does mean that for 4k TVs, a bigger screen is better, matching most closely the experience one would have with a giant screen like in a movie theater. This will be a big selling point for home theater nuts and those who want to feel like they are truly in a movie. 4k is getting a big push because the public has generally not adopted 3D TV technology. This is the same pattern that has befallen other failed technological innovations of the past, like Beta-Max to VHS tapes and laser disc to DVD. It makes the most financial sense for manufacturers to only traffic in the technology used by the most people.
Of course, that will only happen once there is content for 4k. 4k TV owners will notice a difference in standard HD programming, but right now, there is still a dearth of material that is 4k TV compatible, but that will change soon. Netflix will begin streaming 4k programming soon, including the third season of its critically acclaimed series House of Cards. It already streams the fan and critical darling Breaking Bad in 4k, and will be offering more of its content in the 4k format soon. Currently, only a few channels, like Canada’s Bulb TV, are offering 4k programming over broadcasting. One reason streaming services like Netflix are hoping 4k takes off is that it will force internet providers to give the streaming services more bandwidth on their networks. Having the public on the streaming services side will be beneficial in the case of any negotiations with the internet companies.
Even though most of the public still has yet to buy into 4k TV, manufacturers are still rolling them out. Samsung has gotten very good reviews for its output, particularly its curved TVs. These TVs allow for more depth in the picture, and better resolution. Though some of these televisions may cost thousands of dollars, there are still lower end models with the same picture quality for only hundreds.
Though 4k TV is still in the early stages, many aspects of the entertainment industry are counting on it to be the next big thing. From content providers to manufacturers, many companies are betting that people are going to abandon their standard HD TVs in a way that they didn’t for 3D. Whether or not their gamble will work, only time will tell.
By Bryan Levy