Are 4K TV’s Worth the Investment?

4k tv home theaterIn the world of technology things are constantly changing.  The new 4K TV’s are a perfect example.  While they are technologically superior to pre 4K TV’s are they worth the investment if you have a relatively late model plasma or LCD?

What is 4K TV?

What 4K TV offers is basically twice the resolution of an HDTV.  Traditionally this would mean a sharper picture.  The logic is the more detail that’s displayed on the screen, the better and more lifelike the image will look.  But this isn’t always the case.

Let’s take a quick look into how 4K works.  Source material such as HD cable, satellite and Blurays have 1920 horizontal by 1080 vertical lines of resolution.  There is literally no source material out there that has more than that.  A 4K TV is capable of displaying roughly twice this resolution.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

How Does It Work?

In order to display twice as many pixels, the TV has to fill in the gaps of data.  Depending on the processing power of the TV this can be done relatively well, or not.  It is also somewhat dependent on the programming.  A poorly recorded TV show or movie is going to look twice as bad on 4K TV as it will enhance all of the shortcomings of the source material.

This causes a wide range of quality issues with the newer model TV’s.  Now this is not to say that these TV’s are garbage, they’re just not some giant leap in the product cycle that the name might imply.

Unfortunately there is no word as to when or if source material will be distributed that will be optimized for these TV’s capabilities.  There are movie theaters that are already using 4K source material, but this media is not in a format that is suitable for distribution to consumers.  Typically they are stored on large hard drives with proprietary interfaces.

Should You Buy a 4K TV?

This is a good question.  There are a couple of circumstances where it would make sense for you to upgrade your home theater system with a new display.  One would be if your current TV or projector is already out of date or on the fritz.  In this case it makes sense to purchase a a current model TV.

Another option is if you are looking at a high end display or projector from a company like Meridian.  These guys have got video figured out.  They use only the best circuitry and components so the upconversion to 4K is pretty much seamless.  Of course you will pay for this level of performance.  Meridian started out in the ultra high end audio world and has put this expertise to use in other areas.

But if you’ve got a relatively new model HDTV with no issues, I would recommend holding off on a new purchase.  OLED technology is becoming more and more viable, and might offer even better resolutions than 4K TV.