There’s a new resolution on everyone’s lips this year at the Consumer Electronics Show: 3840 x 2160. That’s the resolution that 4K ultra HD is promising, according to Geek Exchange. All of the big name television manufacturers were showing off these televisions, from sizes ranging from 50 inches up to 100 inches, notes Geek Exchange. But what is 4K and what does this technology mean for the future of television?
What is 4K TV?
Ultra HD 4K TV is the latest attempt by television manufacturers to usher in new technology to the mainstream consumer market, according to Daily Finance. The push for 3D television didn’t take on at all, but 4K television has promise. It quadruples HD resolution up to 3840 x 2160. Standard HD quality is 1080 x 1920, so the difference between the two is quite significant.
Sony and Seiki
Sony and Seiki are focusing on getting mainstream acceptance of 4K televisions through smaller models, 65 inches and under. According to Forbes, Sony’s 55-inch Bravia X900 runs $5,000, while the 65-inch model costs $7,000. Compared to many of the Ultra HD models shown at CES highlighted by Forbes, such as 84-inch models that run $20,000, these prices are much more affordable. Seiki has recently announced their Ultra HD television, which drives down the base price even further at $1,500, according to Gizmodo. Seiki’s 50-inch Ultra HD TV received favorable reviews from Gizmodo staff, equating it with movie-theater quality and praising the amount of detail they could see. One reason this model is more affordable is that Seiki hasn’t included a lot of features beyond the basic television, in order to keep costs down, according to Gizmodo.
The Transition to 4K
Although these televisions are technologically superior, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for these companies to get their televisions into your living room. One of the main issues is getting 4K-compatible content. There isn’t a lot of content currently available, and it will take time before this resolution comes into common usage. Companies such as Intel are working to help with wide adoption of 4K content, according to Wired. Their upcoming set-top box supports 4K content, along with an Internet-based subscription TV offer. Netflix is also keeping an eye on 4K technology, and it plans on offering 4K video through streaming. Forbes reports that Sony is also planning on releasing a 4K media player. Sony’s player will run $699 and include ten movies in 4K quality. It’s also an Internet-connected device, so Sony will include a 4K download service to get the content to consumers, as noted by Forbes.
Film studios that are doing digital production are already shooting in 4K, according to Geek Exchange. It’s just a matter of making the original quality files available. However, film studios are reluctant to do so, citing piracy concerns. The United States does not currently have a 4K broadcast standard, but Japan, Europe, and Korea are beginning to air content in this quality on a limited basis. DirecTV has filed trademark applications indicating their interest in developing the first 4K network. However, it has yet to be seen whether the upgraded 4K network will increase the prices of Direct TV offers, Netflix subscriptions and other TV services. Unlike previous technological leaps in television technology, the quality increase is not accompanied by a new form of disc media to store the files on. Instead, it’s likely that 4K content will be streaming and broadcast only, provided by studios, networks, and other content producers and publishers.