So your home theater is all set: a 1080p high-definition television with a big screen and 3D capability, a high-end stereo receiver and speakers to play back crystal-clear sound, and a Blu-ray player to play your movie library.
Your 3D glasses are on and a big bowl of popcorn is at the ready. It doesn’t get any better than this, right?
Oh, but it does. Your perfect setup is obsolete.
There is a new technology in town. And its name is 4K HD.
Just what is 4K?
Simply put, 4K is the resolution of the newest HDTVs on the market: 4,096 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels high. That is the same resolution used for movies such as “Avatar.” Cinema-quality images, without the cinema, are now possible.
Previously, the best resolution was full high definition at 1080p, or 1,920 pixels wide by 1,080 pixels high (the higher the pixels, the better picture quality). Full HD is the standard for many broadcasts and most pre-recorded media available today.
Disadvantages of 4K
One of the biggest claims about 4K displays is how clear the picture is up close. The recommended viewing distance for most TVs is about 10 feet. A 4K display will look perfect from half that distance. Assuming you will be sitting that close, of course.
Several major manufacturers, including Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba, sell 4K displays. But you will need a lot of pretty pennies: Sony’s 4K projector will cost you $25,000. And Panasonic’s top model, a 152-inch “professional” plasma monitor, will set you back a cool $500,000, according to the listing at Panasonic’s online store. Because 4K is new, prices will likely be high for years to come.
And there is no standard for 4K displays today. Quad Full High Definition, another resolution type known as 4K, is only 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. So even if you pay big bucks for a new HDTV, you still might not get the highest resolution available.
You can have the technology right now. But you will not be able to do anything spectacular with it yet. Available pre-recorded media content is still months away. And broadcast content is currently nonexistent.
Monitors will be big. Toshiba’s first model will be a 55-inch TV, according to CNET.com, a leading technology review Web site. And as Panasonic has shown, that is on the low end. You will need a big room for your new home theater setup.
Advantages of 4K
It is not all negative news, however. With the highest-resolution picture on the market today, 4K brings the movie-theater picture home. No more suffering high prices and annoying fellow moviegoers.
And 4K enhances 3D TV pictures by doubling the number of horizontal and vertical pixels, according to CNET. The greater pixel count creates a sharper, line-free image, eliminating one of the biggest complaints viewers have about the feature.
Plus, it is the latest technology, even though it has been in development since 2005. So if price is no object and you have the space to fit a large monitor, 4K HD should definitely be on your shopping list.
But before you grab your credit card and race to become the first one on your block to have the latest and greatest HDTV, there is one thing to keep in mind: 8K is coming. Soon.
Jennifer Carrigan is a big geek who wrote this article on behalf of sdcards.com, where you can find a plethora of SD cards for your entertainment needs.