The History of 4K
The Digital Cinema Initiatives LLC (DCI) was formed in 2002 by all of the major film corporations. They wanted to create a high standard for digital cinema and ensure quality performance worldwide. The 2K resolution (2048 x 1080) became the standard for cinematography which enhanced the detail on large movie screens. The industry began to explore taking it to the next level. The first 4K camera for cinematographic purposes was commercially released in 2003. YouTube began supporting 4K video uploads in 2010 and in 2011 4K movies were projected at cinemas. The first home 4K home projector was released by Sony in 2012.
What is 4K?
The standard for high definition today is 1080p (1920 x 1080) or “Full HD”. This is the format of most blu-ray discs, current gen gaming, streaming services and TV broadcasting. 4K Ultra HD (UHD) televisions display up to four times as many pixels (3840 x 2160) as Full HD 1080p. To get a true UHD picture you must have media that is sent to your TV in 4K format. There are many forms of 4K media devices available now such as Ultra HD Blu-ray players, 4K upscale Blu-ray players, PS4 (video only), Xbox One S and PC/Mac (with a video card or hardware that support high resolution). There are also several streaming devices available that display media such as YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo in 2160p format. UHD TVs also have the ability to upscale 720p or 1080p signals providing slightly increased clarity.
There are many forms of media that display in UHD format. In order to have a true Ultra HD picture the media being displayed must be in 4k format. If the signal is not from a device or an app that supports this media, it will only be displayed at an upscaled 720p or 1080p on your UHD TV.
There are several forms of streaming media that support 4K such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Vimeo. Typically you have to select 4K as the resolution in the settings in order to stream at it’s highest quality. Devices like Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Streamsmart Pro and Amazon Fire TV have the ability to stream 2160p content. If your UHD TV has a ‘Smart TV’ feature, you can download streaming video apps directly on your TV and view HD and Ultra HD media. All of these features and devices require internet access.
Ultra HD Blu-ray is another form of 4K media and requires an ‘Ultra HD Blu-ray’ player. ‘Ultra HD Blu-ray’ discs do not work with a regular blu-ray players. Look for the ‘Ultra HD Blu-ray’ logo (displayed above) on the disk and on the outside of the blu-ray player or box to determine if they are compatible. These discs will not work with a 4K upscale blu-ray player which is the most common 4K blu-ray player available now that only enhances 720p and 1080p media.
Playstation 4 and Xbox One S game consoles are both 4K compatible. They are capable of running most streaming media apps in 4K format and they upscale 1080p games and movies. Xbox One S is the only system capable of ‘Ultra HD Blu-ray’ discs. There are currently no games released in UHD format but both consoles upscale 1080p games. More on HD gaming.
What to look for in a UHD TV
Technology changes often which makes it difficult to keep up with and we don’t want our devices to become outdated too fast. The first line of UHD TVs that were released around 2013 are not compatible with some of the new 4K media that is available now and being released in the near future.
High definition media is now being regulated by HDCP 2.2 (high bandwith digital content protection) technology which was created to prevent illegal copying of HD content. Every component involved including your TV, media player and the disk or file must support HDCP 2.2 in order to view the copyrighted content in Ultra HD. When buying your new UHD TV and Ultra HD Blu-ray player you also want to look for HDMI 2.0a ports. Many devices released with HDMI 2.0 have online updates available to upgrade to HDMI 2.0a.
Upcoming media will also be utilizing a feature called HDR (High Dynamic Range) which enhances color accuracy and expands the range of contrast. It increases the range of how bright and dark colors get throughout every part of the image on the screen giving it a significant increase in depth. WCG (Wide Color Gamut) brings out a wider variety of colors making images more accurate to real life.
- The Smart TV feature is definitely something nice to look for. You can launch apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Vimeo right from your TV remote. You can also stream in 2160p video on a wireless internet connection.
These are a few things to look for that will keep your devices up to date for a while. You can enjoy all of the newest devices and features that are on the way without the worry of your new TV becoming ‘dated’ too fast. Refer to FlatScreen 101 for more details of what to look for in your new HDTV.
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz (Native); Motionflow XR 960 (Effective)
- Backlight: LED (Edge-Lit)
- Smart Functionality: Yes
- Inputs: 4 HDMI (HDCP 2.2/HDMI 2.0a), 3 USB
- 7.1 channel Dolby True HD/DTS-HD Master Audio
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi
- HDMI Outputs: 2, Inputs: 1 USB