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4K TVs: How Much Resolution Do We Need?

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Once upon a time the world thought that 1080p was pretty good. Now there are TVs with a 4K (3840x2160) resolution that purport to put regular hi-def to shame. In this brief — yet lively — video discussion, our experts ponder the question: How much resolution do you need?

What about you, readers? How much resolution is too much? Are you looking forward to 4K TV? And do you think it's worth buying a 4K TV this early in the development of the technology? (One of our writers thinks not.) Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


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13 comments
Beef007
I have an Optoma 1080p Front Projector viewing it in a 120 inch diagonal screen. We always watch HD movies whether it's 720p or 1080p but will never go back to SD since the difference is night and day. The difference between 720p and 1080p in my 120" screen is definitely noticeable. So I'm super excited to get a 4K Front Projector as i know that it will better than 1080p. Now, if you have like a 55" or smaller TV, I wouldn't even recommend 4K.
Ziba
By all means! If I want to own any thing bigger than 60 in and can't sit far away and want to see the most detail;)
sonor
People seem to be forgetting the only part of it 4K that matters to consumers: the color gamut.

The color gamut that 4K can display is far superior to that of 1080p. That being said, I'll be sticking with my plasma for the foreseeable future. People are correct that it is currently pointless to own a 4K display unless you are a graphic designer or something.
brainknot
I've been mesmerized with the Samsung $45k 4K TV, I love the Sony's and the LG, waithing to see a 65 inch Seiki, becuase frankly, a TV that costs more than a BMW is obscene. But I believe we are just stepping into the wall sized TV where you build the house around it. Maybe live inside one too.
WILLiAMorAMiNOT
I think it depends on the price. Obviously, if people feel that it is affordable enough and there is enough of a difference then a good percentage of people will buy it. I'm very thrifty. I wouldn't mind have the tech but I don't want to pay the premium to get it.
joemin97
Now I may pick up a 4K set in a few years when the Price is Right. If they drop to the Price of Current 3D 1080P TV's. And there has to be 4K Content available. If they come out with a 4K BluRay Player which technically can handle the 200gb files that make up a 4K Movie. I would buy a 4K TV. Again the price has to be right.
joemin97
I normally buy the newest and greatest. I purchased a 60inch Sony 3D TV back when the First XBR came out. Great Picture quality. I buy 3D BluRays when I can and if the Price is Right. I have been looking at 4K TV's for awhile now but I have read and seen a lot of info. Over on CNET they did a comparison and explained that 4K is great for Front Projectors, they explained that anything over 80 or 100inchs in size is noticeable with 4K compared to 1080P. So Even if I went up to a 80inch LCD TV, I would not notice much difference. Also there is no Content. So I go purchase a 3d or 2d BluRay and it is encoded at 1080p and there are no plans for Broadcast 4K at this time. So there is very limited content even Sony gives you a Hard Drive Media Player with 4 or 5 4K movies on it so you can watch something on you new 4K TV. I think that since 3D has lost its oohhs and aahhs moment the TV manufacturers is looking for something new to increase sales. I will probably buy a 70inch 1080p.
rampo
I guess I'm more of a Luddite than most. Every year or so it's the next big thing, whether it's plasma/LCD/LED or 720/1080/3D/4K. All my CRT TVs have been replaced with flat panels (& good riddance!), but that's about all I need for now. Most of my viewing is classic movies, and I'm one of the minority who thinks that a film itself is more important than whether it looks "fantastic" in high def. So I guess a 4K TV is probably not in my immediate future.

On a side note, for us fans of the late great podcast, it would be helpful if these "Your $0.02" videos were noted as such on the main dealnews page. Right now it's a guessing game trying to figure out which topic is worthy of the $0.02 treatment.
Witchboard
Some things shouldn't be watched in HD. Ha! Seriously though, my wife couldn't see the difference between SD and HD until we watched the Olympics in HD. When the station identification would flash up, it would switch the feed to SD. My wife was then amazed between the difference, especially on how you could see the faces in the crowd on HD where on SD they were just a blur. I won't be upgrading to 4K anytime soon. That's the best thing about technology, 4K will get better and more affordable in the future. By the time I'm ready to buy my next television, I'm sure 4K will be an affordable option.
invenio
4K is "almost" completely useless to the average consumer. The reason for this is that most people don't sit close enough for their eyes to even see true 1080p with their current sets (assuming they have 20/20 vision). Here is a nice graph with screen size vs viewing distance needed to appreciate standard def, 720p, 1080p, and 4K.:

http://i.imgur.com/xhh0M.png

For example, if you have a 50" TV, you would need to sit about 6 ft or closer to appreciate 4K. Most people I know site farther away than that, and they have smaller TV's! Mix this in with the fact that a significant number of people have less than 20/20 vision, the average viewing environment is not idea (high ambient lighting, reflections, glare, suboptimal viewing anlges, etc..) this 4K TV is a gimmick to sell a bunch of new TV's.

And another huge factor completely ignored is the bitrate on the video streams which is just as important as resolution. That's why HD Netflix streams often look much worse than SD DVD's!
anthem11
I saw some 4K displays at NAB this year and was very impressed. They are super awesome. However, there is practically no content available for it and very few delivery methods that can handle the size of the data required for 4K (although I did read something about one company getting 4K down to 10mbps compression). Even in all digital movie theaters where entire systems are dedicated to delivering photorealistic content, you have 4K projectors displaying movies at about 2.5K. You also really need a giant tv to see the difference (over 60") between 4K and 1080P from what I understand. When the content is there, when the delivery methods are there, when I can convince my wife that 1080P isn't good enough anymore, maybe I make the jump.
Lokeshbal
I think the previous commentator has neatly summarized this dilemma. I think 4K TV would be good for business purpose, such as large display in Airports, arenas and other public places. Any TV larger than 65" is impractical in most houses. However, the smart marketing agencies know how to entice consumers on this new creation.
Bal
married2lori
"Can you tell the difference?" and "Is there a benefit?" are two totally different questions.

If I'm watching the NBA Finals, do I need to be able to count the pips on the dice on Chris Anderson's tattoo? Someone sitting next to Justin Bieber and Flo Rida in the front row of AA Arena, can't see as much as I can at home. I can see more details on Diane Sawyer's huge face than I can on my wife's. Seeing more than real life is no more "realistic" than seeing less is.

If your desire is to one-up your friends, go for 4K. If you've already bought every movie you would ever want to watch and subscribe to every cable channel and streaming service, but still have money to spend, go for 4K. I'll spend my money on content rather than resolution I don't need.
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