This post was from my tumblr 2014 and updated to reflect what little has changed. Many posts have popped up over the last few months asking if waiting for 4k (3840 x 2160) would be better than buying a current 1920×1080 television.
I’d like to get a into the nitty gritty of the 4k, its benefits over 1080p and the confusion associated with screen size/distance needed to take advantage of the added pixel density.
What Does Size and Distance have to do with anything?
When you pick out a television you generally have an idea where it is going and where you are going to sit or stand to watch it. Presuming everyone has 20/20 vision you can use..
to figure out the absolute best Screen Size Vs Distance for any television or projection screen. For example a 60” 1080p television will look its best at around 8’ away. This is the distance where your eyes can see ALL the detail available and yet the individual pixels
That same 60” TV in 2160p now REQUIRES YOU to sit less than 4’ from the screen to truly take advantage of the added resolution.
If you sit far enough away from a TV its HD resolution becomes useless. Sit far enough from a screen and you can’t tell BluRay from DVD and a bit farther and 4k and VHS look startlingly similar.
But I have seen 4K in the store, it looks great!
Yes. the latest in store 4k demo units do look great compared to their FullHD counterparts in best buy. This is because of several factors.
- The source is usually a 4K source and demo disc that isn’t shared with the other TV’s around it OR it is shared on a video repeater network and not run direct to any other screens than the 4k’s.
- The raw panel quality is better since these first units are essentially expensive flagships.
- They are calibrated to look their best instead of “Demo-Vivid” mode being activated like on other TV’s in the store.
- Companies selling TV’s need you to need 4k. They want a push to 4k because everyone essentially has a 1080p screen somewhere in their house and my god.. what if you just used that for the next decade, tragedy!
Sources.. We don’t need no stinking sources..
As of the writing of this 4K has been promised in several arena’s. Netflix promises to stream 4k (which is useless considering the compression their Standard HD streams undergo). 4K BluRay is STILL on the waiting list for release and guess what.. You will need to buy a new BluRay player to use them.. WooHoo!! (usually from those same TV manufacturers!)
Youtube also has 4K options but I think 90%+ of people watching youtube are relatively happy with 720p in a window and don’t watch fullscreen anyway.
User created content like from video camera’s and still photo’s will likely reach 4k before anything the industry puts out in mass. Already do.
I also suspect MOST content that eventually comes to bluray will not be remastered from the original film prints and an extensive up scaling filter will be what brings the massive libraries to you.
So is there no benefit to 4K at all?
Of course there is. But I don’t see it in the 32-70” television section of displays. You have to think BIGGER
to really reap the benefits of all those pixels.
Anyone running a 120” screen can tell you that you can usually pick out the pixels if you are anywhere near 10’ away. Not so with a 4k.. Your magic number becomes 8’ for best absolute pixel detail satisfaction.. So even the 10-12’ people are now in the supreme milky butter zone. (mmmmmm)
Now sit at your PC (if you still have one /r/pcmasterrace represent!) and look at the screen.. Pathetic isn’t it? Now look at your phone or tablet. Those phones and tablets with 2560×1600 res in 8 F__CKING INCHES.. Well that is what we all want.
This is where that massive boost to pixel density does best. BUT all of this info will be useless in a year or two. You will, I imagine, have the same luck finding 1080p screens as you do 720’s today. Same as trying to find a TV without SMART features now. Nearly impossible.
So the advice I stand behind right now.. Hold off on the 4K.. Get the BEST 1080p screen you can.. Concern yourself with Contrast ratio’s and Color accuracy and Backlight Bleed and Viewing Angle. That is what you NEED right now.. A quality TV.
When it comes to computer monitors and PC gaming there’s plenty more interesting monitors that have higher refresh rates feature sets like Gsync and would be easier for a PC to run than 4k. To run games in 4k well at maximum settings you are going to need anywhere from 2 to three to even four 290x’s or GTX 980s. You’d be hard pressed to tell the difference from Quad HD which might only require one card for some games to two for the most demanding.