4K Hype Has Consumers Focusing on Wrong Things

December 3, 2014 3:09 pm

Samsung-4k-TV4K has been hyped as the next big thing in video, but unless you are an A/V geek, it is all too easy to get confused about what it means. Of course, everyone is already talking about 8K, but that’s just marketing – people like counting the pixels (like in digital cameras, previous displays, storage, etc).

Size can matter, and more pixels are better, all things being equal. However, just like the above examples, it is not the only factor to consider when it comes to a quality experience.

As explained in The Ultimate Guide to 4K and 8K Ultra HD, “Ultra HD is an umbrella term selected by the Consumer Electronics Association…to describe a new high resolution video format… In fact, the term “Ultra HD” actually refers to two different resolutions: 4K Ultra HD (3840 × 2160 px) and 8K Ultra HD (7680 × 4320 px).”

Looking beyond resolution, UHD includes substantial visual and audio improvements such as higher frame rates, color gamut, and audio surround effects. The last may be surprising, but research shows that audio quality impacts the users’ experience far more than picture quality.

The march of technology continues, and some may wonder when it is going to end. Do we really need ever higher resolution, faster frame rates, etc.? TVs are constantly getting better, but watching even the most advanced ones is not the same as looking out your window at the real world.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re watching an HD movie the sky is usually white and not blue?

Do you still get annoyed when watching action or suspense scenes that are occurring in the dark and you can’t seem to figure out what is going on there?

So what do we indeed need in order to make our TV viewing experience come closer to looking out of the window into the real world? More than 4K pixels? Probably not.  But better contrast, coloring and audio features would certainly be a step in that direction.

We believe that these are some of the specs you should keep an eye on that will take us closer to that experience:

  1. HDR (High Dynamic Range) – Techniques to reproduce a greater range of luminosity, or brightness, by capturing multiple images of different exposure levels and combining them, thus gaining back some of the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of the image.
  2. Higher Frame Rates – This is the frequency that frames change. Higher frame rates are important for fast moving motion pictures – e.g. sports, action
  3. Higher Color Gamut – This is the range of colors that are represented.
  4. Wider Bit Depth – Bit depth is the same as color depth; the number of bits used to represent a color of a pixel.

We recommend getting past the fixation on resolution and pixel counting, and paying more attention to the above specs and especially HDR, which we believe is the next big thing. What do you think? We welcome questions, comments and feedback.