We've all heard the hype, 4K or Ultra High Definition is the next big thing in television, and by 'next' I mean next month. Christmas is upon us and it's the traditional time for making the most of your license fee and watching all the great programmes, films and Christmas specials as a family. But this year you can experience the director's vision as intended. Anyone who has experienced 4K will know what an incredible difference it creates. So if your digital camera can create 4K your TV should be able to show it! Buying a 4K TV isn't a future investment, it's about keeping up with the improving technology right now. Still not convinced? Here are four great reasons to upgrade to 4K in time for Christmas.
One of the biggest criticisms of the 4K standard has always been around a lack of content. By that I mean that television channels, films and streamed content weren't available in 4K at the point the first 4K TVs launched. Fast forward to 2015 and that's no longer the case. Entertainment suppliers such as the big TV networks and major movie studios have not been slow out of the blocks. They are keen to create content to support the 4K revolution. Newcomers like Netflix have already made some of their biggest and best programmes available in 4K. Gritty blockbusters like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards benefitted from the improved quality of dark scenes that 4K offers. The new original series Narcos makes use of 4K to facilitate the very Colombian storytelling-style that is 'magical realism'. So 4K is much more than just better image quality, it becomes integral to seeing the story as the director intended.
BT have already launched the first 4K channel BT Sport Ultra HD and SKY have launched SKY Q which is 4K ready. Imagine the prospect of the Walking Dead in glorious Ultra HD, although I'm more of a House of Cards man myself. Beyond that Disney and YouTube are launching 4K services. This is the age of 4K content.
2. On your terms
Let's face it, with ever more hectic lives, watching live TV is getting harder and harder. Streaming catch-up and on-demand is now the fastest growing way to watch TV thanks to the variety and quality of content available, when it suits you. Netflix has 66m subscribers in 81 countries, including 4.5m in the UK. 14.1% of UK homes now subscribe to the streaming service; that's more than 1 in 10 households!
12.3% of UK viewing is time-shifted - up from 11.3% in 2013 - meaning that we might watch it on the same day, but after dinner or the gym. Interestingly though, most people watch streamed shows on their TV (not mobile devices) because if you're going to enjoy Dr Who fending off the Daleks, Cybermen or Weeping Angels you really need to do that on a screen big-enough to appreciate the action.
The market is expected to grow to more than one million 4K TVs in the UK by the end of this year, and 4K TV sales are likely to represent 50% of the TV market by Christmas. According to analysts most people upgrade their TV every seven years on average, and a huge number of us do this in time for Christmas.
The number of 4K TVs that support the upcoming HDR (High Dynamic Range) standard means that 4K is even more useable now and it's ready for the future. Given that online streaming is an ideal vehicle to deliver 4K to your TV, it's expected that content availability will be faster than the move from Standard Definition to High Definition.
It's certainly the right time for the technology, and if it's the right time in your TV's lifecycle then consider a better 4K TV experience.
4. Bigger and better
I can't think of anyone who would turn down a bigger TV. Which probably explains why 50% of TVs sold in the UK during 2016 are expected to be over 40 inches. In fact, over half of UK homes own a TV with a screen bigger than 33 inches. That's because a big screen doesn't mean a 'big TV' anymore. Ultra-thin screens with extremely thin frames take up less space in your living room meaning everyone can have a great home cinema experience without the TV taking over their home.
But for every inch of widescreen you gain, you need to improve the quality of that screen in order to enjoy your films, sport and programmes at their best. If you don't upgrade the resolution you are essentially stretching the same number of pixels over a bigger area. 65 inch sets are predicted to become the new top-end of the normal range. So it's predicted that by 2018 all sets of 50 inches or larger will be 4K. 1.5m 4K TVs are expected to be sold in the UK in 2016 in line with this 'growing' trend.
So the lesson to learn from all this? Don't get left behind. FOMO is bad enough when it comes to being an episode behind on the series everyone is talking about, but imagine knowing they were seeing more than you on their 4K set. Don't miss out - be part of this 4K