TV's Answer Man
What Is 4K Or 'Ultra HD' TV?
Washington, D.C. (December 24, 2012) --
Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your
questions regarding how to best use the latest products and
services in TV technology.
If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to
I keep hearing about
this new 4K TV. What exactly is it and will it make my TV's
picture better? -- Carrie of St. Michaels, Maryland.
4K TV, or Ultra High-Definition TV, are the names given to TVs
that can display a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, which is
roughly four times more than current
1080p High-Definition TVs.
Does that mean a 4K TV's picture is four times better than a
1080p HDTV? Not quite. But 4K does deliver more detail,
particularly if you are watching it on a large screen.
Which brings up a good point. Many display experts say that 4K's
sharper detail can only be detected if you are watching it on a
60-inch TV or larger. Furthermore, they say you need to sit much
closer to the TV than you normally do, perhaps five feet instead
of nine feet, let's say.
As of this writing, Sony and LG have introduced 84-inch 4K TVs
and they retail for a whopping $20,000 to $25,000. Like with all
new technologies, prices are expected to fall, but it will be a
few years before they reach what most people would consider
affordable. (Sony has also introduced a
4K Home Theater Projector.)
There is also little 4K content available at this time. Sony is
bundling a free 4K player with its 4K TV and it's pre-loaded
with several recent and classic Hollywood films in the format.
More 4K content should be made available once more 4K sets are
sold and it's likely that CE companies will eventually introduce
4K Blu-ray players that can play 4K discs. (There are already
Blu-ray players that will 'upscale' 1080p movies to 4K.)
studios are producing more movies in 4K so they should make
their way to retail at some point.
It's unlikely that your TV provider, be it telco,
cable or satellite, will offer content in 4K anytime soon.
DIRECTV recently said it would if 4K becomes mainstream but it
expressed some doubt about whether that will happen.
Bottom line: 4K, or Ultra High-Definition, makes for an
interesting picture technology to keep an eye on. But due to
price and some technical obstacles, it may take years before 4K
sets reach the masses.