back to article It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV

With CES in full swing, the industry’s favourite buzzword is cropping up all over the show floor and in the headlines. But the surveys and reports that are emerging still aren’t painting a picture of 4K’s success on the sales floor, as two datasets show that 4K has still yet to take off. Both Futuresource Consulting and the …

  1. LaeMing

    I'm considering...

    ...2.5k at present. By the time they are pushing 8k I might be up to thinking about 5k.

    1. Dazed and Confused
      Unhappy

      Re: I'm considering...

      I was also looking at going 4K towards the end of last year. Sod TV, I was shopping for a new monitor.

      I even went as far as getting a suitable graphics card to plug into the PC but then...

      At that point I realised that too much of what I need it for is tied to pixels and while I'm happy to own up to being a pixel junky I'm also in my 50s and my eye sight isn't what it was. So a 28" 4K screen wasn't going to help me read what was in front of me for the things which I couldn't just scale at will.

      So I bought a 32" 2560x1440 display. Which is means I can have it far enough away that I can see it without reading glasses and everything is big enough for me still to be able to see it.

      Roll on 50" 4K monitors.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I'm considering...

      By the time they are pushing 8k I might be up to thinking about 5k.

      By the time they're pushing 8K I'll ... still want the same TV resolution I have now.

      We can't even be bothered to scroll down to the HD channels in the online guide. Yes, they look "better", in some sense, but not better enough to spend three seconds finding them.

  2. Ian Michael Gumby
    Boffin

    Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

    A TV is still a major appliance.

    I mean, how do you justify the expense and swapping out a perfectly good TV set for the next new big thing?

    I bought a nice new Sony 2 years ago. I got a 'smart tv' because it was the only thing on the market, and the only 'smart' feature I use is Netflix. (I would love to be able to remove the features I don't use...) Its 3D ready, but I don't have 3D glasses or a desire to ever use it.

    I would love to have a nice 4K OLED TV, however, even though I could afford it, it seems to be a waste; knowing that a year later, there's going to be a net new refresh and that today, there's not enough 4K content available.

    So I will wait.

    That doesn't mean that I don't want 4K or 8K. It just means that I don't have enough of a justification to make the leap.

    If you build the better sets, provide the content, I'm there. Eventually.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

      In what world are 'smart tvs' the only ones available, especially 2 years ago?

      I suspect that you had limited your choice by brand and how much you wanted to spend, but I can assure you that even now, full HD 'dumb' TVs are still available, some from major brands, and many quite good quality ones from volume or badge engineered brands that techno-snobs tend to ignore.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

        >and many quite good quality ones from volume or badge engineered brands that techno-snobs tend to ignore.

        The OP isn't going to get rid of his existing TV for on that is merely "quite good", especially if he expects it to last for five years at least (five years is becoming the warranty period people expect from TVs - see HotUKDeals.co.uk for discussions about UK TV retailers such as John Lewis and Richer Sounds).

        'Techno-snobs' may ignore badge-engineered TVs, but it is hard enough to find professional reviews of low-end LG sets, let alone a Tesco special. When I have read reviews of Technica et al - in the Which? magazine - they have been slated as a false economy.

        55" 1080 TVs range from £500 to £1000. Yeah, the pricier ones have 'smart features' (that many of us will find redundant), but also vastly better black levels, contrast and motion processing.

        Now is not the time to buy a new TV. 1080 sets will soon benefit from quantum dot filters (nearly as good as OLED but much cheaper), and 4K sets will be a safer bet in a years time when standards and formats get smoothed out.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby

          Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

          5 Years?

          You have to be kidding right?

          I usually buy Sony TVs because I expect them to last 10 years or longer.

          I did buy a first gen Sony Plasma, but it failed in year 5, but I shipped it back to Sony and they repaired it. So it lasted 10 years total. I have had sets last 15 years too. (One of the smaller 13" CRT tube...)

          So when my plasma died and the wife said replace it now!!! I first looked at the Sony sets.

          In truth, I was holding out for an OLED in 42" and ended up getting a Sony 46" LED.

          In terms of TVs, I want the best possible picture, and of course need to get content worth viewing, besides College Football !! (American).

          1. TechicallyConfused

            Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

            I think that the days of keeping TV's for 10 years may have passed. I used to be of this opinion. I had a Tosh 37" CRT for almost 10 years with no issues. I eventually replaced it for a 40" Sony simply because it saved an awful lot of space.

            However one thing I have noticed about flatscreens (LED for sure) is that they do degrade in quality relatively quickly compared to CRT. Add to this the fact that by the time most of them are 4 years old you almost have to have added a sound bar because the audio, which was okayish when you bought it has degraded significantly to the point where what you watched at volume level 20 when the set was new you are now watching at level 50 and asking the kids to be quiet because it STILL sounds like everyone is mumbling (and not I wasn't watching Broadchurch or The Wire).

            I have 4 Smart LED TV's now and I can't say I use the Smart on any of them unless either the Xbox or Apple TV i splaying up and wont connect to Netflix in which case I load that. . but again - the cheaper 2 "Smart" TV that I have don't even have Netflix and have no facility to download it. Not that smart!

            One of them is 3D capable and I recently discovered that it came with 4 sets of glasses. I tried it out and in fact the results are really quite good. Do I use it. No, not unless I am demonstrating it to someone. It is too much of a faff not least of which is moving round the lights in the room because if you have a light source in your line of sight you get irritating flicker through the glasses. Equally I don't have a 3D Blu Ray player and I don't tend to buy Blu Rays that much as most content I watch is now downloaded from either Amazon, Apple or streamed from Netflix.

            On that note, 4K is going to be utterly useless to me until these providers deliver significant content in that resolution AND I am comfortable relying on my internet connection to deliver a constant stream in excess of 15Mbps without screwing up other internet activities. As it is I have an 55Mbps typical download speed yet I still wait interminably while content buffers from all of these providers and don't even get me started on the speed of an actual download from Apple. Sometimes it is like going back 10 years in time it is so slow.

            So if asked what I think will keep the profits in TV's I would have to say poor longevity of quality plus the ease with which kids can poke a stick through the screen.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

            I have had sets last 15 years too. (One of the smaller 13" CRT tube...)

            Down in my basement, in the exercise room, I have a 1993 coax-input 13" CRT set, being driven by a 1992 Panasonic VCR, which in turn receives input from the Playstation 2 I dug out of the neighbor's trash (when I was cleaning out her barn for her - it had been abandoned by her son when he headed off to college).

            Still works well enough to serve its purpose, which is letting me play games while I run on the treadmill.

            I suppose I'll replace it when it finally dies, assuming I don't go first.

            (Ob IT: The VCR isn't Y2K-compliant. Every time the power goes out it wants the clock reset, but the date is only two-year and thinks the century is 19. It'd be a real pain if I wanted to program it to record shows. Of course, it can't even receive cable or OTA signals now without an external converter. Still does a good job with composite-to-coax conversion, though.)

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come. @Dave

          I obviously look at this differently from many of the people here, although I don't believe that the OP was stating anything about why he purchased the Sony or the size of the TV he purchased. I presumed he did it because of the failure of his previous one, bearing in mind he did not want any of the shiny features.

          I buy primarily on price. At the moment, if I were in the market for one, I would prefer to buy a £250 1080p TV now, and another one (probably better) in a couple of years should I feel the need (read on), rather than a £500+ one with a five year guarantee now.

          I can see that there is a difference in quality, but not one that I feel is worth the extra money . And quite often, the cheaper ones can be 'life extended' by capacitor replacement or board-swap maintenance. My current TV (a Digihome bought from Tesco, in case you wanted to know) is seven years old, and has had a power supply capacitor replacement and a t-con board at a total additional cost of about £20 plus a little of my time. It lasted the best part of four years without any work, and I can see it lasting another couple of years, although it may be relegated to another room at some time.

          Maybe I've been lucky. I feel the picture on this one is good enough, although the blacks could be blacker. The upscaler on non-HD content is good, and I do not suffer from block decoding artefacts or noticible high-speed smear, although I will admit that the best quality signal it gets fed is from a 3rd generation Sky HD box. I've certainly seen some stinkers (I also have a similar aged 32" Sanyo TV bough second hand for the kids game consoles, which is pretty bad).

          But what I have is 'good enough'. I've seen many big name (but not necessarily THE big names in TVs) that are no better, and were much more expensive than my current TV. I'll certainly not be buying a TV for more than about £350 absolute maximum any time soon, and I suspect that there is a huge segment of the buying public who will think the same.

    2. loopyludo

      Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

      My thoughts exactly I have an 8 year old HD TV that is only now starting to fail, so unfortunately I will be in the market for a new set this year. Not because of any gimmicks but simply out of necessity.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

        The one thing I don't want in a smurt tv is the camera that watches you while you watch the TV.

        First, for auto shutoff, it doesn't work unless you move around a lot when you're watching.

        Second. Color me paranoid, but I'm sure that:

        1) The camera could be hacked so you now have god knows who watching you.

        2) Its not far off to see sets invading your privacy to see what you're doing while you watch a show.

        Its a feature I don't need and if I want to skype someone... I can already do it from my ipad, laptop, desktop, phone...

        Granted if I ever get a TV wall, and its integrated in to my home... maybe then, but still within limits.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

          >5 Years?

          >You have to be kidding right? I usually buy Sony TVs because I expect them to last 10 years or longer.

          And that is why I said "five years at least". There are no ten-year TV warranties that I am aware of, but graphs of failures against time are not linear, so that many of the TVs sold with a five-year guarantee will last a decade.

          Anyway, my point was that the longer you live with a TV, the more irritated you will be by any design flaw* (such as a crap UI or uneven backlighting) that often plague 'badge-engineered' budget sets.

          The people on HotUKDeals are not necessarily technoheads like Reg commentards, but a self selecting groups of consumers looking to save themselves a bob or two. As such, I take the importance that they as a group place on warranty periods as an indication that people don't expect to change their TV every couple of years.

          * Many Sony models are praised by gamers for their low lag, and by sports and movie fans for their good blacks and motion processing... however, my mate's Sony has the annoying 'feature' of turning itself off if it thinks the user has fallen asleep: it didn't occur to Sony that the user might only use their satellite box remote control, and not the TV's remote control. )

        2. VinceH

          Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

          "The one thing I don't want in a smurt tv"

          What's that? A smart TV that only shows smut? :p

          "is the camera that watches you while you watch the TV."

          Quite - so a bit of tape will be quite handy here.

          OTOH, I'm not convinced I want a smart tv at all. I already have computers to do the extra things that a smart TV does. (My Blu-Ray drive does some smart TV type things - except it can't because it isn't connected to the internet and I have no intention of changing that.)

    3. BlackDimension

      Re: Meh. Build it and they will eventually come.

      Couldn't agree more. Going to be a difficult market I think because many people think this way. They spent $$$ within the last few years on the "latest/greatest" TV that would fit their needs at the time. I think many will say wait a minute, why do I need a smart TV when I can just get this $40 USB stick (FireTV, Roku, etc.), or a BluRay player with all the "smart" features I need? Everyone isn't going to get a new TV every time a new "feature" comes out unless it is truly mind blowing. Until 4K content is available for at least 50% of Netflix streaming shows, UHD BluRay, and other sources I don't see many people making this upgrade just because. Some will because they want the latest/greatest. Some will because they are just entering the HD TV market and will choose a 4K display thinking of the future. Most though I think will not upgrade.

      I have a 5 year old 50" 1080p Panasonic Plasma that is not smart, and I will not upgrade it until it dies. Unless I was going to make a move to a much larger screen, there would be no reason to.

  3. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Like it or not... most of the World may have left the age of analogue behind. But, yet very few actual HD Channels still exist. Here in Germany for example the few "Broadcasters" that can be arsed into upscaling their crap up to 1080i. Only do so for those willing to shell out ca~ 60€'s a Year, for that privilege. While 100% of the Population has to pay the TV Licence Fees here. Actually owning a TV or no. the only way One might access these licensed Channels in HD would be though a Sat Receiver over 19.2E. The Cable Companies are flat out refusing to carry them! So that's even less HD Content we currently even should have.

    Its not really all that difficult to laugh this stuff off, as some kind of bad joke. Considering that SD is still allowed to exist. I don't believe that Blueray was ever quit the success that DVD was, and Netflix, and co. @4k... Assuming that Ones Internet could hold up! Probably will likely end up being even more niche then Blueray ever was.

    Samsung, and co. need to get rid of the idea that TVs are like Phablets that we as Consumers are ready to change, every other Year or so. TVs have never worked like that, and I doubt that they'll ever will...

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      "very few actual HD Channels still exist"

      It's not just that, it's that for most general viewing, SD content (albeit possibly upscaled by some fancy electronics to pseudo-HD in an HD set) is "good enough". There's only 2 categories I can think of that NEED higher quality to improve the viewing experience: Some (but not all) movies, and some (but not all) sports. Even in these cases, picture quality would be better served by improving capture rates to 120 or even 240 frames per second*, and supplying content in that refresh rate in full HD rather than keeping the current frame rate for UHD.

      If there is sufficient bandwidth to run content through cable, sure run UHD filmed at 240 fps. But when for most broadcasters and viewers this is still a constraint, I'd rather have higher refresh rate than higher resolution.

      *'Old' PAL/NTSC refresh rates for analog TVs were tied to power supplies of 50/60 Hz on either side of the Atlantic but digital TV content refresh rates should not be constrained by AC power supply. Since movies are usually screened at 24 or 48 fps and I think 100fps is a minimum (200+ ideal) for smooth pictures in high-velocity movement, we need digital content (including movies) that start to be shot and distributed at minimum 120fps, ideally 240fps. Most HD TVs have been capable of refresh rates up to 200Hz for years already.

      1. Thecowking

        I'll add a third category

        Nature documentaries.

        The high definition content in the latest Attenborough series are simply breathtaking and definitely worth it.

        I always buy them on Blu-ray now and if anything was to push me to 4k, it'd be those.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: I'll add a third category

          > Nature documentaries.

          The most striking parts of Prometheus were those helicopter shots of Iceland in the beginning of the film.

      2. Bob H

        It is worth noting that increased frame rates do not notably increase distribution bandwidth/size, the difference between each frame is smaller as you increase bandwidth so the impact of compression is much more substantial. If I remember correctly a notable someone told me that doubling the progressive frame rate increases the compressed bandwidth by 10%?

        I hate "filmic" frame rates, people claim it is artistic but if you just watch any action film with a good eye you will know how blurred the sequences get. Any good cinematographer should know how to adjust their shooting to create an atmosphere irrespective of the frame rate and you can always adjust the look in grading. (I'm a broadcast engineer trained in both TV and film).

      3. Ian Michael Gumby

        @James

        You must not work in IT.

        You said two categories.

        You of course forgot about the obligatory p0rn content that is mandatory for any bloke in IT to include in this conversation. After all... we all know that the internet was invented so we could all stream p0rn to the privacy of our homes ... ;-P

        ( I really have to wonder who are the types of guys who will up vote this and who are the types of guys who will down vote this.)

        BTW, if I seem sexist, I didn't mention the ladies because many don't admit to the amount of p0rn that they watch too. (But we are all adults here, right? )

        All said tongue in cheek. :-)

      4. redhunter

        An amen regarding frame rates. Higher resolution without an increase in frame rates will only make the current motion blur fix with current low frame rates even more unacceptable especially for sports and action movies.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Like it or not... most of the World may have left the age of analogue behind. But, yet very few actual HD Channels still exist. Here in Germany for example the few "Broadcasters" that can be arsed into upscaling their crap up to 1080i.

      Upscaling can be done by the device. The main difference between SD and HD are the codecs used. I agree that the situation in Germany is parlous, especially in comparison with the UK: my mum gets an impressive selection of HD channels on DVB-T England. More than I get on the standard cable service here in Germany. As both countries have a licence fee of roughly the same amount, that can't be the reason. It's got more to do with the fact that the BBC is directly involved in transmission whereas in Germany this is more fragmented and the LfA (regional media authorities) are too spineless to enforce universal access via DVB-T.

      Not that it really matters: most German TV isn't worth watching even in SD and would only be worse in HD!

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        @C. Clark

        ...And you not just wistleing Dixie!

        Perhaps I should have been somewhat clearer to the UK Readers. What I was referring to was this thing called HD+ Where the likes of RTL, SAT.1 reside. Needless to say the fetted crap they sell will

        make Ones Brains rot.

        I've since picked up an Android Google TV Box, which also runs XBMC/Kodi. With this I'm sometimes able to watch the BBC though it. Like I was before they shrunk the Spot Beam on 28E.

        I still watch the ARD/ZDF for the News. but that's about it.

  4. Aoyagi Aichou

    4K hype?

    While I don't consider 4K to be the next big thing, I've been waiting for a consumer OLED display for a while. Every time I see one displayed somewhere the blacks just fascinate me, especially considering I have to deal with an IPS panel at home, which has almost blinding blacks.

    LG showed a nice OLED display at CES. As well as an 8K TV... oh well.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: 4K hype?

      You may have to wait a while for that... or else have a rethink!

      This may be a case of a 'good' technology being the enemy of the 'best' technology: QD screens are almost as good as OLED, but much cheaper. LG are still struggling with the yield rates of big OLED screens:

      According to DisplaySearch, a 55-in conventional LCD TV costs about $400, a 55-in LCD TV with QD technology retails for about $500, while a 55-in OLED TV runs about $1,750.

      The additional cost for OLED TVs can mainly be attributed to low manufacturing yields: about 40% of all production turns into scrap material

      http://www.computerworld.com/article/2607120/quantum-dot-technology-may-smother-oled-tvs-in-the-crib.html

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/10/samsung_slams_door_on_oled_tvs_goes_to_quantum_dot_next/

      1. Aoyagi Aichou
        Angel

        Re: 4K hype?

        Enlightening, thank you. I'll have to see these QDs with my own eyes.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4 screens vs 1

    Given the choice between 4 x 24inch 1080p monitors in a 2x2 layout and a 4k 55" screen that has none of those annoying lines between the screens, I know which I will be going for my desktop and gaming :)

    Will I watch TV on it? Most likely, but it is only because it is my desktop that I will be getting a 4k screen. The price drops on the sony x8 range make it a very viable option!

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: 4 screens vs 1

      Given the choice between 4 x 24inch 1080p monitors in a 2x2 layout and a 4k 55" screen that has none of those annoying lines between the screens, I know which I will be going for my desktop and gaming :)

      Good luck affording a graphics card that can put out an image at that resolution, with decent detail level, antialiasing and a frame rate suitable for gaming (~60fps). The card will set you back more than £300, and you'll probably need two of them linked with SLI to get the frame rate.

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: 4 screens vs 1

        "Good luck affording a graphics card that can put out an image at that resolution, with decent detail level, antialiasing and a frame rate suitable for gaming (~60fps)."

        I think there are already such cards. After all the workload for the graphics card only increases linearly with the number of pixels.

        However not everybody is into gaming. For many people simply having a 480x135 character text console with decent bitmap fonts is already rather comfortable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 4 screens vs 1

          having a 480x135 character text console

          Spot the vi power user...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Spot the vi power user...

            Surely no one else should be allowed to vote on useful tech... or anything else really

          2. Christian Berger

            Re: 4 screens vs 1

            "Spot the vi power user..."

            Or the tmux user :)

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Linux

              Re: 4 screens vs 1

              Or the tmux user

              Yes... Whoever a) invented and b) "told" me about that, thanks to you. Gone are the days of having half a dozen separate shells into a server to a) work and b) monitor. Now I can do much more with one or two :)

              But I do need more lines! If you want to punish your eyes, try tmux on a small smartphone... :)

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    A womens story?

    Only the wimmin watch tv in this household. The tv is a CRT from the 90's.

    All the males game.

    I might be the market for a new monitor in a few months...something around the 19-24' inch range will be fine, and no 'smart' anything.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A womens story?

      Only the wimmin watch tv in this household.

      All the males game.

      I wonder which is cause, and which is effect?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Ru'

    You can't argue with "33 per cent of consumers may purchase a 4K Ultra-High Definition TV within the next three years".. After all, I "may" win the lottery*; doesn't mean I will.

    Gotta laugh at the picture quality thing being a driver too; I'll stick with my plasma until something comparable is available thanks.

    *I won't actually, as I don't even buy a ticket.

    1. Richard Jones 1
      FAIL

      Main TV is Standard Definition

      The main room TV is a standard definition plasma and does quite nicely thank you as the room is big enough to take the beast.

      The kitchen and bedroom both run SD but both could support HD if there was any point. So far there is no point that anyone here has seen. Rather than ever higher definitions if might be useful to improve the crap quality of both choice and programmes.

      Until that happens to arrest the declining TV watching in my home I'm sorry but even so called HD is not a train going anywhere.

    2. Bloodbeastterror

      Can't resist it...

      @Ru

      Maybe a bit un-PC, but meant affectionately...

      Jock: "Oh Lord, oh Lord, *please* let me win the lottery. Oh Lord, oh Lord, *please* let me win the lottery...."

      God: "Jock, meet me halfway - buy a ticket..."

    3. Ian Michael Gumby

      @Ru'

      How much are your electric bills?

      And I imagine that you don't run the heater much during the winter either.

      Plasmas suck up way too much energy and give off enormous amounts of heat.

      Then there are issues if you're trying to use one at a high altitude too.

      1. Heathroi

        Re: @Ru'

        you don't need a heater if you have the plasma.

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: @Ru'

        165W maximum power, 60 inch screen, barely noticeable to the touch, even after hours of on time.

        I think you may be thinking of early generations of plasma, wouldn't know, didn't have one.

        And it doesn't have burn-in.

        But it has fabulous contrast and no motion blur issue whatsoever.

        After seeing an LCD screen with movement blur, only a plasma was acceptable - at the time at least, 3yrs ago maybe now.

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The 4K elephant in the room

    Modern houses are small - modern flats are tiny.

    While you can fit a normal sized HDTV in a room, once you get to the size of screen needed to gain any benefit from 4K: with double the number of pixels in each direction, there aren't that many places in yer average sitting room where you can put it. And if you want to sit at a comfortable viewing distance (which increases with screen size) - fewer still.

    A 4-foot wide 55 inch telly dominates a modern living room. Given that you have one wall taken up with windows, an adjacent one with a door slapped somewhere near the middle and need to have your seats opposite the TV - there aren't that many layout options available. Put in a 60-incher and you find that the TV dominates the room. Go larger and the whole thing looks like a caricature. Stick with a 4K TV that's the same size as your existing HD kit and what have you gained for all the extra cost?

    (and they still only show the same old crappy programmes)

    1. Tom 13

      Re: The 4K elephant in the room

      Oh, it's deader than that. Flat sizes might be an issue in Blighty, not so much in the US.

      I've got a room plenty big enough for a 4K tv. And the roomie wants me to do something about the video system in the room. It's not our main viewing area, it is downstairs where the treadmill is. With the treadmill on, the sound is too low even at max volume. The set is the first LCD tv I ever bought, pre-dating HDMI. At the moment it is connected to a Blueray, the cable box, a VHS player (hardly used but we have it so it's connected), and a Wii. Three of the four are designed for HDMI connections, so the setups are a a kludge. The only proper one is the cable box using the 5-color rgb-type connectors.

      The first thing I probably ought to do before working on a sound system is replace the tv. I expect most of the problem is from one of the kludge connections getting wonky on either the left or the right sound output. If I do replace that tv, 4K will not be anywhere on my priority list. It needs to be:

      1. Affordable

      2. 1080 dpi

      3. Have sufficient HDMI connections for my expected needs, plus inputs for the VHS.

      4. Smart would be a bonus, not a must (I already have a Netflix subscription, could be fed from Wii, but from the tv would be easier for roomie).

      The only way I'm buying a 4K tv is if it has all that stuff and is cheaper than a 1080 because it's a floor model or some such.

  9. Tezfair

    changing market

    I wonder how many people actually watch the TV these days. I personally watch maybe 4 hours a week, and unless it's something really worth looking at, i'm usually listening because i'm playing with the tablet.

    Over Christmas the TV wasn't even on, on Christmas day or Boxing day, and we are now only starting to catchup with stuff that was worth recording.

    The wife usually catches up with soaps from about 2 weeks back, and again, she will have her ipad on her lap, being the main focus of her attention.

    When our TV dies, it will be price and quality that dictates what I will get, not 3D or 4/8k

    1. Vanir
      Happy

      Re: changing market

      I haven't owned a TV for the last 3 or 4 years. I do not intend to buy and own one to use either.

      I do have a projector, mounted on the ceiling, in the living room with a 90" motorised drop down screen to watch my movies or sometimes, a YouTube video via my laptop. With my recliner in position, a cup of tea and some biscuits I'm ready to chill out.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: changing market

      Ours gets fair usage. I usually get home around 7:30 and turn it on. Roomie is up until 11 or midnight and it rarely gets turned off until he's headed to bed. Weekend may be most of the day or not at all depending on what we are doing. Granted it tends to be more dvr, netflix of DVD/blueray collection, but I still count dvr as tv.

  10. Ian 7

    Content

    The thought of seeing Dot Cotton in 4K is enough to terrify me out of ever wanting a higher-res set than I've got now. My point being, simply having higher-res content (even if it's filmed in native high-res) doesn't actually make the content itself any better. Sure, some films (sci-fi, some actioners) do definitely look better - but does that make them more thrilling or interesting or emotive? Not very often...

    As for "smart", it's much cheaper (and IMHO usually gives a better UI) to just pop a Chromecast or Roku or something similar in the back of a dumb tv. Gives me all the smarts I need...

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    I might well want a 4K screen

    But mostly for images I make myself, like this moon mosaic. I do not need "Holland/UK/Lapland has got no talent" in even higher resolution.

  12. wowfood

    Eh

    I'm not overly sold o 4k tbh. I mean I like the idea, and I'm sure it'll make a nice difference on larger sets (the kind they have in some sports bars etc) but I don't see it being as noticable on smaller sets y'know? I remember reading somebody arguing similar a while ago, can't remember where though, the basic premise was that increasing the resolution would lead to declining returns, although I think the arguement was with regards to retina displays and phone manufacturers going beyond this (I know TV's for normal viewing distance are still a ways off from 'retina display' levels.

    Instead his arguement was that we should work on increasing the frame rate, and I kind've agree with that. We've been stuck with 60fps for a long time now, with a lot of content actually 24/30fps and artifically upscaled. Even now we have TVs which purportedly have up to 600fps (Saw this on an LG) but it's artificial, it's not 600fps content, it's some kind've comparison between 1 frame and the next, and then incremental chagnes between them or something. Didn't quite understand how it worked myself. But I think we'd be better off pushing these higher framerates as standard, rather than as an afterthought. Hell there are videogames which go at higher frame rates than the TV and Movies we watch.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Eh

      Here is a fairly article about real refresh rates, and the fake 'internal refresh rates ' (meaning the interpolation done by the TV's CPU) that are listed by TV vendors:

      http://www.rtings.com/info/fake-refresh-rates-samsung-clear-motion-rate-vs-sony-motionflow-vs-lg-trumotion

      The Q&A at the foot of the article is also useful.

    2. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

      Re: Eh

      There is also viewing distance and the limit of the human eye to perceive the extra detail. If I can't perceive the individual pixels on my 1080p tv sat on my sofa, surely any extra ones are a complete waste of time and money?

      For me 4k serves its purpose up close only (and yup it looks amazing) and thats not how most of us watch tv. It is however how we game or use computers. Good for gamers, artists maybe but thats about it.

      Just tech companies trying to sell us the next thing we don't need.

  13. Matthew 17

    is there any content for these screens?

    My telly is about 7 years old (a humble 43" 1080p pioneer set), I have a 'smart' pioneer BD player that lets me stream stuff from my computer as well as watching DVD's, BD's, Netflix etc.

    Now I could swap out the TV for a nice pimped 4k screen but I'd still be watching 1080 content.

    Sure I could use the real estate on my computer but that's about it.

    UHDBD players are still a bit of a myth as is any content, I can't stream it over the Internet (yes technically Netflix and similar are claiming to be offering 4K content but the bitrate is so low it'll have a quality comparable to a 128kb/s MP3)

    so the only application I can think of is for anti-aliasing if I have a huwge 60+ in screen and I'm sat with my nose pressed to it.

    a bigger difference would be if films improved their frame-rate as they're still stuck in their ancient 24 frames per second.

    Or am I missing something?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: is there any content for these screens?

      You can buy a GoPro camera and make your own 4K content, in your bedroom if you like.

      4K is being phased in I believe, with some features still being decided on - one of those being HDR TV. 4K TVs currently on the market are effectively beta versions.

      Personally I find that if the content being shown is good enough then I will happily enjoy it on a 23 inch CRT. If the content is rubbish then even iMax couldn't rescue it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Picture quality improves while programme quality decreases.

    Contrast that with the music industry where the audio quality decreases (loudness war, songs compressed to shite) and the song quality decreases.

  15. Scott Broukell

    Groucho Marx quote . . .

    "I find television very educational, whenever it is on in our house I go and read a book"

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Groucho Marx quote . . .

      Can you link the following quotes to those who made them?

      "Television is for appearing on, not for watching"

      "Masturbation is the thinking man's television"

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Unhappy

    Continue the research

    Still too many compression artefacts cropping up on transmitted sources to make 1080 a consistent hi-res pleasure.

  17. Joerg

    Nonsense. Of course 4K is not the next big thing..8K is...

    4K is just like what 720p was for HDTV before 1080p got released. The UHDV revolution is happening very fast now. Prices keep falling.

    The only real issue is the mess the industry did with a lack of proper gaming consoles capable of smooth 4K 3D 60fps playable games

    As well as the lack of a new high quality high bitrate optical media standard. And the upcoming UHDV BluRay for 4K only at 100Mbps it's too little too late.

    They better release 8K capable future proof hardware now or they won't be able to market it properly like they did mostly thanks to Sony with its Playstation3 and BluRay standard for the HDTV era.

  18. Joe Harrison

    too complex

    I was in the telly department at Costco the other day and they had TV sets from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. I was surprised at the differences in picture display but none of them actually looked fantastic to me. Maybe it's my eyes but they all look flickery especially when there is a lot of movement going on.

    Oh yes and the "smart" factor bothers me - having paid for it I would feel obligated to use it, but wasn't there some news recently about smart TVs phoning home to the mothership?

    1. Lallabalalla

      Re: too complex

      Not sure about the phoning home - I think my Samsung can only do that if you set up a Samsung account - a requirement of some of the "smart" features - but the only things I actually use are the iPlayer & other catchup apps, and youtube, both of which I find very handy indeed.

      Costco won't have done any kind of setup on those screens .... they often default to some pretty crappy settings and viewing them under a massive wash of striplighting may not help things.

  19. PaulM 1

    4K monitors do not need to be bigger than 32 inches in size

    My son has a 26 inch 4K monitor which he used with his PC for software development, playing games and watching Youtube clips. He gets the full 4K effect because he sits two foot away from it None of my family really ever watch our 720p 22 inch TV and so we will never buy a 47 inch 4K monster.

    1. Lallabalalla

      Re: 4K monitors do not need to be bigger than 32 inches in size

      That's fine if you have a small room. Our previously enormous 26" set suddenly looked like a postage stamp when we plonked it down in the front room of our new house: subjectively, the 46" set we replaced it with only looks like a 32" would have done in the old house.

      OTOH I don't see why anybody would need more than 640k of RAM

  20. Lallabalalla

    None of it really matters IMO (unless you're a manufacturer, I guess)

    For me - and I suspect a lot of people - there are 2 things at play here which utterly override the whole 720->1080->4K->[...] upgrade path thing.

    1. At some point, everyone decides that a good enough picture is good enough. I have a 1080p 46" screen and it's absolutely fine. I will change it when it breaks or I move and need a bigger or smaller one.

    2. The whole point of a TV is the content. Yes, you can enjoy that content more when it's Attenboro' or sports maybe, etc, but for the most part one watches the show not the picture quality. A really good programme could be on anything and it will be as good as the writing and acting can make it. First time I saw Das Boot it was on a 12" black and white set, and it was as riveting as when I saw it again on a 26" TFT.

    There will always be the er, TV-o-philes same as there are audiophiles who listen to the Hifi rather than the music, but they are rare by comparison.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1080p

    I have a HD telly, but I'm still waiting to be able to watch telly in HD, without having to reboot the Sky box, wait 5 minutes with a blank screen for it to warm up, then avoid using the pause or rewind functions, for fear the sound will once again become horribly out of sync with the picture. How on earth they'd get telly to your TV set in 4K without another host of issues is the question.

    (DVD's in HD work brilliantly, of course.)

  22. Haku

    Bring on the plethora of 4k & 8k TVs!

    So I can get a decent, very fast pixel refresh rate 1080p screen for peanuts, because sadly with my eyesight, 4k & 8k screens would be wasted on me :(

  23. Daz555

    I'll be needing an eye upgrade before 4k on a 40" screen from 10ft away makes any difference to me.

    If anything my eyesight is likely to get worse as I age so really I can't see me needing anything more than 1080p in my lifetime. Still at least I'll be able to buy cheap TVs. Roll on 8k - it will make 1080p cheaper still!

    For PC monitors though - yeah fill yer boots. Like most I have my monitor sat on my desk in front of my keyboard and any bump in resolution is instantly noticeable.......then there is another problem though.....forking out for a GPU able to shove that many pixels.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Context

    I grew up watching 625 PAL on averagely curved 20-or so inch screens when you fiddled with the tuning manually. Ghosting could still be a problem (44 players on the pitch for the Sunday afternoon match).

    In my late teens, 32-bit computer games on a TV through the SCART.

    Then as a young man with a 28-inch TV watching programmes played back on standard VHS.

    Now at the ripe old age of (cough) if it's not the quiz programmes on TV, it's 'restored' Doctor Who episodes from the 70s.

    For me the promise of 4K holds little.

  25. D@v3

    not just the screen to worry about

    as has been mentioned, bandwidth to provide all this (somewhat fictional) 4k content is also a big issue. Another one that I discovered this weekend is (potentially) compatibility with the rest of your kit. I was mildly curious about why the HD logo was not 'active' while watching something from amazon prime (labelled in description as HD), watching on TV screen, connected to AV box via HDMI, which also has my PC HDMI'd into to to provide the stream.

    Hovered over the greyed out logo and was given a message about an HDCP problem. Now I just have to work out what is the week link in that chain (For now, I'm going to assume it's the PC).

    Fact is, the video still looked fine, and it must have been that way for some time, it was only curiosity that led me to find what I thought was HD, was not. I can imagine that there could be quite a few cases where people have a nice new 4k screen, and just assume that everything they watch is going to be 4k

  26. mark jacobs

    TV is dead

    I am spending more time on the computer and less time watching TV nowadays and wondered why. I believe it is to do with the number and frequency of adverts being too high, coupled with a drop in the quality of the content on TV. Plus, choosing your own entertainment is much better than being "programmed".

  27. Valerion

    I'm holding off upgrading as long as possible

    Why? My current TV is a lovely 50" Panasonic plasma. Currently about 4 years old.

    And you can't buy plasma anymore. I don't care if it makes me old-fashioned, I think it's a far better picture than the over-bright, over-saturated LED stuff that seems to be pushed everywhere these days.

    Will OLED bring decent pictures back?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I'm holding off upgrading as long as possible

      Search HotUKDeals.co.uk for 'plasma' and you will find some deals on plasma TVs - by LG, Panasonic and Toshiba.

      Plasma TVs were considered good for sports and movies, but weren't suitable for some use cases, such as console gaming, displaying PC desktops or living up mountains.

      OLED is some way away - unless you're very rich - but Sony and now Samsung are pushing forward with a Quantum Dot twist to LCD screens... QDs can be to incorporate into the existing LCD manufacturing process. Just think of QDs as acting like phosphurs, but with the ability to fine-tune exactly which light frequencies they emit (since wavelength is just a function of their size).

      Reviews of black levels in existing Sony Quantum Dot TV models are mixed (just search Google for 'Triluminous Review), ranging from "we can't believe it's not plasma!" to "the blacks look really grey on this LG-made panel Sony are using".

      Black-levels aside, QDs boost the colour gamut of TVs to be on a par with OLED. For the most to be made of this, next gen formats with larger colour spaces will need to become mainstream.

  28. Innocent-Bystander*

    Cinemas Mostly Only Have 2K at the Moment

    4K for homes is useless for most consumers. Unless you're a graphics artist, where there are no such things are enough screen real estate / resolution / RAM / processing cores...

    Let's not forget that the vast majority of digital cinema is 2K and those images are being blown up to 100 foot screens. When was the last time any of us heard a cinema goer say: "Digital is a neat idea but it's too low res / blurry".

    If it's good enough on a 100 foot screen to watch video content, it's good enough on 42 to 60 inches that maybe 90% of households have (and yes, I know, 1080P is not exactly 2K, it's few thousand pixels short, but it's close enough).

    At this stage my money goes to a contrast enhancing OLED or quantum Dot technology before I pay a cent for higher resolution.

  29. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >At this stage my money goes to a contrast enhancing OLED or quantum Dot technology before I pay a cent for higher resolution.

    Mine too.

    However, resolution and dynamic range are linked insofar as they both require nascent distribution standards to contain extra information (more pixels, and more information per pixel).

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those "SmartTV" features are deathly slow, and the telco's smart box is awful for easy navigation - basically I can do a download/USB flash transfer faster than deal with their crappy solutions even when I have the service paid for.

    If Steve Jobs were alive, maybe it'd be another opportunity to do something like make MP3 downloads simple when the rest of the mediatards can't figure out how to make a 2015-worthy wand. #FAIL.

    (and 4K 4K - that first one's a verb - 700Meg AVIs are still good enough for my tastes if it's a decent plot, and I hate sports)

  31. bruceld

    I live in Canada and bought a 'smart' TV once only to find all the content and features geo-blocked here in Canada. Trying to navigate YouTube and the Web with a remote control was f*cking painful. Trying to navigate to and play my share videos on network drive was either painfully slow or simply incompatible. I could not force the TV to override Netflix geo-location after I got a US DNS vpn and it locked me out of Netflix permanently even after forced hardware resets. The system also crashed often and I need to pull the plug many times. In other words I'd never buy a smart tv again or ever recommend it to anyone.

    Would I get a 4K or 8K TV? Probably when the price comes down and I'd end up plugging a computer or android TV device into it.

  32. Fazal Majid

    4K is now

    I bought a house 6 months ago. It came with a media room with a 20 year old 42" 720p LG plasma with massive amounts of burn-in and frizzy pixels. My 85lb 46" Toshiba was heavier than the 76lb LG and I wasn't sure the wall mount was rated for the weight, so I replaced both with a 50-inch Samsung HU8550 that weighs half their weight, yet barely takes more space due to the thinner bezel.

    The premium for a 4K screen is under $250 over comparable 1080p TVs, so it's a no-brainer for an appliance that is just too inconvenient to install more than once a decade because of its bulk. I went over reviews for the handful of models certified by Netflix for 4K streaming, so I do have some content available via the SmartTV, including Amazon now (no AppleTV or Roku or whatever supports HDMI 2.0 4K resolutions).

    Paucity of 4K is not an issue, as I always expected the primary source would be my photo collection (4K=8MP) and 4K home video should become mainstream within a year or two as hardware H.265 compression chips find their way into smartphones. The Samsung doesn't have good photo casting options for a Mac user (surprise surprise), so I have to use a USB stick, but it works and is gorgeous.

    I would say buying a 2K set today would be just as short-sighted and penny-wise-pound-foolish as buying a 720p set 5 years ago.

  33. Chika

    4k is the new 3D

    Let's face it, folk. This all smacks of the same sort of thing that was around a few years ago when all + dog insisted that we all need to go 3D. OK, it's not quite as bad since none of us will need a stupid pair of glasses to watch the thing but we still have the problem that most of the television programmes that were any good were originally made for 625 lines and even the more recent stuff won't look any better on 4k than it did on 480p unless you have an extensive Blu-ray collection. And that always supposes that the stuff you are watching is going to make 4k worth the effort.

    To be honest, the market that is more likely to take to 4k will be the computer market where 4k is already beginning to make a small mark, though even there the games out there that will work at 4k aren't that thick on the ground yet and little else actually requires that much depth of resolution. It's going to be a few years before it really catches on and the various sales types will no doubt be itching for the next new thing to sell sets long before that.

  34. Fiddler on the roof

    Well.......

    I have a 4k curvy TV and its great, there is only a small amount of netflix content for it (which Im working through) and I have no other avenue for receiving it once I'm done. But my opinion is that if you are always waiting for the next quantom leap, next big thing or set of standards to be adopted, you could wait a long while.

    I buy what I can afford and what I think I will use whenever my current tech goes "tits up" and this seems to work well for me. Sometimes it means Im an early adopter, but this hasnt yet *touches wood* left me with some tech that I cant make use of.

  35. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge

    It's not just the TV...

    It's not just the TV itself, but the infrastructure supporting it. 4K will take a lot of bandwidth, and many cable companies are still relying on an outdated infrastructure. In your typical HFC plant, you've got a finite amount of space between 50 MHz (anything below that is used for upstream) and 1 GHz (anything above that can't be reliably carried by the equipment and cabling). Each 6 MHz slot can be used for a single analog channel (which is why analog cable is vanishing), six or seven digital SD channels, two digital full-HD channels, or about 38 Mbps of downstream Internet bandwidth (shared between everyone on the node).

    If you're a scumbag like Comcast, you stuff three HD channels into a slot instead of two, at the expense of having to compress it to the point where people start noticing artifacts. How much bandwidth is going to be required for a 4K channel? For it to look decent you probably have to consume an entire 6 Mhz slot.

    Verizon and other FttH providers will be able to handle it, but the vast majority of providers who are still on HFC will have a huge investment in front of them if they want to keep up. This could stall the rollout of 4K.

    1. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

      Re: It's not just the TV...

      Agree entirely, Virgin media my cable provider, can't even get iplayer in SD working properly, without stuttering, pauses and sound cutting in and out. Despite it working flawlessly on my PC via the internet. Let alone the "HD" channels that all look the same as SD ones to me. 4k infrastructure is a long long way off, so I'd rather pay the money when I actually can get content.

      It's like buying a car that runs off moon dust, it may do great MPG but you sure aren't getting any fuel anytime soon.

  36. Fiddler on the roof

    One further comment about bandwidth........

    When I got my TV Netflix said you will have to have a stable connection faster than 24mb per sec to watch 4k content. This turned out to be untrue, I had 12mb per sec at the time (100mb now :) ) and as long as my kids werent skypeing it worked tolerably well. Sometimes I had to sit for a minute whilst it downloaded the next chunk but ussually an episode went through without interuption.

  37. -dp-

    Quite keen to buy a new 4k set, after having seen my brother's last gen Samsung, so stick me in the 33%. Smart TVs look good - I like the connectivity it has in place. I will go for a 4k as I expect to own it for the next 7 years, like my current Sony (well, by the time I buy one, it will be 7 years old). I will go for Sony again, as I like their input lag versus something like Samsung, though I liked the Samsung interface and picture quality but have read the input lag is terrible, which is not great when you play online competitive games.

  38. Leeroy

    Old Bravia

    I'm still using a 7+ year old 42 inch Sony Bravia that spent the first three years of its life on for 12 hours a day mounted on my mother's pub wall. I think it cost her £700... I had it for nothing when she had enough of the drunks. Of the two 46 inch LG models (£1000 each) that she kept one has been used for spares to keep the other running. I think I will buy a Sony when mine eventually dies.

    Don't even mention plasma tv's... They should come with replacement power supplies when you buy one.

  39. Stingo

    Miserable Old Git Goes Yuck (the MOGGY effect)

    I can imagine manufacturers thinking 4K allowing them to envisage their product becoming more smarter than smart can be. Imagine using one big screen with four concurrent corners of activity - watching content in one corner, skyping or facebooking in another and downloading content to watch later while looking at a photo album. Oh, wait, I can simulate that on my laptop.

    I want to be entertained by what programmes I watch on my TV. Once you break that magic, it simply becomes a device for doing anything you can already do on any other platform. Convergence is never complete though they keep trying. And who asked the content handlers whether the UK networks can push all those 4K +1 and catchup channels thorugh our already strangled, delapidated, internet pipes or satellite?

    And I agree with whoever said as the quality of the picture rises, the quality of programmes appears to fall or something like that. Whatever happened to quality (where a lot of us want to watch something) not quantity (as opposed to literally a choice of a wide-ranging load of rubbish)?

    Can't wait for summer and go outside and do something useful like living...

  40. CheesyTheClown

    CEA finds 33 percent of consumers may purchase a 4k...

    ... In the next 3 years.

    Those same consumers may purchase a butt plug...realistically, they probably won't though... Maybe some of them will.

    Let's assume 10 percent of consumers will buy their first TV. Unless 4K is cheap enough that it trumps paying $500 for a 48" 1080p... Not gonna happen for them.

    Let's assume 20% of consumers upgrade or replace sets. Unless those 4K sete offer the same value for the money as 1080p, it won't happen for 90% of them.

    In short... Did CEA mean to say that 30% of consumers actually purchasing a new TV will likely buy 4K? On top of that, have they figured out if 4K would be why they buy it or if 4K is just likely to be available on the nice thin model which looks pretty on the wall?

  41. Neoc

    Don't want...

    I don't want a TV that is "smart" - I have a HTPC media player for that.

    I don't want a TV with a turner - I have a networked free-to-air capture device for that.

    I don't want a TV with speakers - I have an Amplifier for that.

    What *I* want is a big screen that does the best it can at displaying the images slung at it via HDMI and nothing else. No, unfortunately, that's not simply a big-ass PC monitor. So in order to get the screen-display smarts, I have to buy a TV with extras I do not want or need.

    1. Neoc

      Re: Don't want...

      OK, I'm curious... why did I get voted down? I don't mind the down-vote, but I'd like to know why.

  42. eAbyss

    Everyone should know that the STATIC contrast ratio is the most important stat.

  43. David Gale
    Happy

    Given that broadcast television is going the same way as the landline telephone, is someone really suggesting that 4k is an attractive proposition for the occasional watch of Netflix? The tv may still be a dominant feature in our lounges but the reality is that most of us are watching less and less of it. How long before producers follow Sony's lead, cut out the middle man, and go direct?

  44. BigMon

    I have a hankering for a flatscreen as our current 27" Panasonic CRT is about 11 years old now. It hasn't been replaced as my wife is of the opinion that there is no point changing it if it isn't broken (tsssch, women).

    However, I wasn't aware flatscreens degraded so quickly. The volume and image quality on our CRT is still superb 11 years on.

    Perhaps I will keep it for the moment. The fact it weighs about as much as Saturn and will require two grown men to shift it is also a contributing factor.

  45. Tanuki

    My only real use for a TV is to display home-generated static photos which I load from a 32Gb USB memory-stick. Someday we might get manufacturers producing "TVs" that can do display- justice to the image quality of Mr. Canon's DSLRs and a Sigma prime lens.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021