Should You Buy a 4K TV or Not
Deciding on a TV upgrade is as much about lifestyle as it is about keeping up with tech trends. That's because the TV is often the focal point of our living spaces and home entertainment systems. Even offices tend to have one or two especially in conference rooms and common areas.
Right now, the TV-upgrade question on most peoples' minds is whether to go 4K or not.
Is now a good time to get a 4K UHD TV? That depends. There are great reasons to go for it and a few good reasons to hold off a bit. Overall, the odds are strongly in favour of making the leap. Here's a breakdown of the points.
REASONS YOU SHOULD BUY A 4K TV
1. Everything looks better in 4K UHD
If improving the immersive quality of your home viewing experience is your priority, then you should definitely go 4K! The Ultra HD resolution of 4K TVs delivers superb quality imagery. Put simply, when it comes to image quality, 4K UHD is the best.
With a resolution of 3840 x 2160px, 4K UHD TVs have millions more pixels than Full HD TVs. That means they can show more details, more colours and smoother motion. By itself, a 4K resolution doesn't guarantee image quality. That's because things like colour, brightness, black levels and framerates depend on other factors besides screen resolution. That said, screen resolution is a significant factor and all things being equal, 4K delivers the best image quality possible.
4K TVs have gotten better since their debut years ago. Back then, older ones did little to improve the quality of lesser resolution content. Newer 4K TVs don't have this problem because they often have inbuilt upscaling algorithms that make lesser resolution content look significantly better. So, getting a 4K TV guarantees a better viewing experience regardless of the native resolution of the content you're viewing.
2. 4K UHD TVs are more affordable than ever
Steep prices are no longer a barrier to owning a 4K TV. The ridiculously high price tags of the past are more or less history. This year, there are 4K TV models from leading brands like LG and Samsung that are very affordable. Some 40 – 45inch UHD TVs sell for as low as $450 (£350). That's within the budget of most working adults who can afford a smartphone, a Netflix subscription and the occasional Premier League ticket.
3. More Native 4K content to enjoy
The arrival of 4K TVs is fast changing how content is made. More movies and TV shows like House of Cards are produced in 4K resolution. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are also rolling out streaming options for their growing selection of native 4K content.
4K discs and disc players are emerging too. Videogame buffs will also find more 4K RPG games to choose from. Even DSLR cameras capable of recording 4K home videos are in the making.
While UHD content is yet to saturate the market, it's already the undisputed standard for premium content. As many more content producers shift to working in 4K, having a 4K TV will be even more important.
4. Better harmonization and connectivity
As one might expect of technologies developed by different companies, older 4K TVs had issues with harmonization and connectivity. They were not uniformly compatible with content types like HDR. Also, some didn't have the right connection hardware to power the millions of pixels on their screens.
In response to these issues, a group of stakeholders known as the UHD Alliance have laid out standards for all 4K TVs. Newer 4K TVs come with a similar set of features and connection ports. There's also a badge to indicate that a 4K TV has important compatibility features. This makes finding the right 4K TV for your needs much easier.
5. 4K is the future!
Finally, getting a 4K TV is a good way to futureproof your home viewing system. We've seen new technologies go from fringe/premium status to mainstream standard. While that's unlikely to happen with 4K TVs just yet, there's no doubt that 4K is the future.
It has already become the standard for premium content across all spectrums. Some broadcasters like Sky Sports already transmit in 4K, and cable service providers are quickly creating 4K UHD channels just like they did for HD content.
REASONS YOU SHOULDN'T BUY A 4K TV
1. Prices are likely to improve
The downward trend in the price of high-tech is something we're used to seeing. The price of 4K TVs has already dropped significantly. Yet, there's room for improvement. In the next 6 – 12 months, the picture could be very different with bigger 4K TVs entering price ranges that will put them within reach for many.
2. Harmonization not quite complete
While the UHD Alliance have set a uniform standard for 4K TVs, the standard and its badge have not been as widely adopted as we would like.
Adoption needs to improve to make shopping less stressful for everyone. People who are less tech-savvy can rely on the alliance badge as a guarantee of compatibility. With a badge, shopping for a 4K TV won't feel like taking an unpleasant lesson in AV technology acronyms (4K, 2K, UHD, HD, HDR, HDMI, DCI, RGB, Framerate, etc).
3. Harmonization not quite complete
4K TVs tend to be big. In fact, the smallest ones are at least 40 inches wide. If you don't need a TV that big, it doesn't make sense to buy one.
Many people use their computer monitors for work and play. You may be better off investing in a 4K monitor. You'll have a good viewing experience since you'll be within 1 – 3 feet of your screen. You'll also have a display device that's easier to position and manoeuvre by virtue of its smaller size.
A few years ago, the list of reasons not to buy a 4K TV would have been longer and more persuasive. Today, it has whittled down as even former critics admit that 4K TVs are here to stay.
Consider your budget, decide what you need and keep your eyes open. The market for 4K TVs is very competitive and there are many great options to choose from.
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