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4K why?

EricBall

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The other day I was browsing a warehouse sale which had a few 4K TVs (but no 3D, which I found interesting), and it got me to thinking about them. Not because I want one, but strictly on a why? basis.

The local cable company is hyping their 4K TV offering, starting with local baseball and hockey games. But when I'm watching my 55" HDTV, I'm not thinking "boy, I'd pay big bucks to have more picture detail".

Maybe if my TV filled the entire wall so HDTV looked like 320x200 VGA on a 21" monitor. But then I wonder whether compression wouldn't make the extra resolution moot.



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Because 3D didn't pan out, and manufacturers are trying to figure out other ways to con people into buying new TVs, when they likely already have a perfectly good HDTV that would otherwise last them for years.

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Oh, I understand the manufacturer side. They want to sell more TVs and it's relatively easy to make LCDs with higher pixel density (a 55" 4K panel is basically four 27" HDTVs). And more is better, right?

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That's essentially the only reason 4K exists - it's driven by the manufacturers. Most people would never notice the difference, unless they had a massively huge TV, and even then, your point about compression is spot-on. HD broadcasts now look pretty horrible, so any gains from the added resolution would be effectively negated for the majority of content.

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Part of me wonders what the results would be of a side-by-side comparison at normal viewing distances of the same broadcast in 4K versus HDTV.

 

Probably not good. I stopped "upgrading" my DVD collection to BluRay because I didn't find the improvement worth the cost.

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Al's using a 4K TV as a monitor as well. Looked really slick and was large enough (maybe even 39") that he ran it at actual resolution instead of using HiDPI like I do on my two 27" 4K monitors. I seem to recall it was only 30 Hz refresh rate though.

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They're also used for editing digital cinema. We're starting to incorporate 4K into productions at work, although it will be some time before it becomes common practice here. We run 1080p material on 2K DCI projectors all the time, and it looks fantastic.

 

I've upgraded many of my DVDs to Blu-ray, but the difference it makes largely depends on the source material and how good of a job of mastering was done. For some things, it's not worth it. I've all-but stopped buying Blu-rays though now, in favor of streaming. The rare times I do buy one, is if it's something that isn't available for streaming, or is something I want to own a physical copy of for some reason (likely nostalgia, rather than anything practical).

 

Unless I owned a huge house with a full-on home theater (minimum 12' projection screen), I wouldn't bother with 4K. From the standpoint of consumer television, it's complete overkill.

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I understand having a 4K (or 5K) monitor if you're creating or editing 4K content - you want to have everything onscreen at once rather than scrolling or scaling.

 

I got my 27" iMac before they went to the 5K retina display, although IIRC when I checked them out I didn't see a huge improvement. Probably depends what you're working on.

 

IIRC the DVD versus BluRay which changed my mind was Cars.

 

I think I have a mental block on paying for streaming content. If I'm not willing to pay for the physical disc then I might as well wait until it's available from the library, on one of the cable stations or the VoD service in my cable package.

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