Making sense of TVs: “Do I need Ultra HD?”

Sony 55” 4K Ultra HD TV

TVs are often a large part of the home tech experience. There are a lot of options for TVs (size, LED vs. plasma, smart features, inputs, etc.), and therefore, usually a lot of questions about these options. We’re looking at common TV options and some tips on what to look for. Last time we looked at: “How big of a TV should I get?”, this week: “Do I need Ultra HD?”

Ultra High Definition Television (Ultra HD TV or UHDTV), is the next generation of televisions. There are two Ultra HD formats: 4K TV and 8K TV, but 4K TV will likely be the predominate one over the next several years. 4K TV has four times the resolution of current HDTVs (8K has 16 times!). The increased resolution comes from more pixels packed into the TV. Pixels are like tiny coloured lights that make up a TV’s picture. Ultra HD also has more colour range, or colour depth – essentially video should look more ‘real’. Ultra HD paves the way for some very large TVs with great picture quality.

The good news is that the cost of Ultra HD TVs are coming down faster than it took for HDTVs. The bad news is that the rest of the industry needs to figure out how to give us something to watch. For example Sony has an Ultra HD media player and YouTube has some clips, but there isn’t a whole lot Ultra HD stuff out there.

There are top brands making great Ultra HD TVs, but there are also lesser manufactures making poor ones. Some Ultra HD TVs may have the specs on paper, but perhaps the colour isn’t quite right or the picture quality isn’t even across the whole screen. You should be careful when you stumble across a ‘deal’ on a Ultra HD set. Ultra HD allows for a more detailed picture than HDTV, but it doesn’t give quite the sense of a huge step up as HDTV did against old standard definition TVs. Ultra HD is definitely better, but its not like HDTV is unwatchable after you see Ultra HD.

Do you need an Ultra HD TV now, probably not. If you are currently in the market for a TV, and don’t have a big budget, then you’ll likely be well served by a HDTV for quite a while. If you have some extra cash and want to be ready for the future, then perhaps a Ultra HD set is for you – especially if you’re buying a huge TV. The masses will likely start buying Ultra HD sets once prices come down and there is more content available, especially sports.