But What the hell is 4k?
Yeah, I know the title is luring and as I write this article, I may begin by making something clear, less than 0.001% of Ugandans currently own a 4K device (imagined stats). Okay, now that we have gotten that out of the way I can begin my 4K rant. Basically 4K also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD) is the next screen resolution to grace people’s screens; from phones, Laptops, televisions, etc. It’s a more realistic gimmick than 3D if you ask me. (Not that they are the same thing) One of the most undeniable trends at this year’s CES expo was 4K TVs. Gone is the HD (High Definition) song that people sang, now that the number of Full HD devices in the country is slowly increasing (thanks to the Dubai importers). I think time for us to jump to the next big thing is now, okay is soon, but at what cost? All that 4K action might leave you wondering: what does 4K mean? And what effect does the bombardment of 4K have on the future of the HDTV I just bought?
Worry not, my techno-curious friend. I got you covered.
4k for dummies (Let the lesson begin)
If you are thinking of buying an HDTV now, it’s not a bad idea at least yet — it’s not yet obsolete — but it will soon be a generation behind the state-of-the-art. I know most of you are asking yourselves what 4k or Ultra HD really is. Ultra high definition (UHD) is a standard that surmounts high definition (HD). According to the Consumer Electronics Association, it’s defined as a display that has a 16:9 ratio (the same as HD) and a minimum pixel count of 3840 by 2160. HD maxes out at 1080p, which is 1920 by 1080 pixels.
For those wondering if 4K is UHD and the reverse. Yes, both terms are used interchangeably. 4K is one kind of UHD defined by a 2160p resolution (the minimum threshold for UHD), and it’s quickly becoming the first widespread UHD standard. Just like we have 720p and 1080p as HD standards, —8K, which has a 4320p resolution (7680 by 4320 pixels) is also a UHD standard.
The P Stands for ‘Pictionary’
720p, 1080p, 2160p and 4320p, that should be lots of “p”s, and in order to understand these standards you should know progressive scanning techniques. In most everyday uses, “p” can just be thought of as referring to the number of horizontal lines of pixels a display has. A Pixel is the smallest addressable element on any display. So a 2160p display (4K) has twice as many horizontal lines as a 1080p display (HD). To cut the long story short, while a 1080p display has 2million pixels, a 4K screen has 8.2 million pixels.
For those who think that 720p videos or TV broadcast are currently clear? Imagine the same image which is almost 9 times clears (I know eye popping). The only analogy I can think of is the difference between a 2Mega Pixel Camera and 12 Mega Pixel camera.
Won’t my eyes pop out, on a 4K screen?
Worry not, remember whenever you see these screens in shops you are close to them, but when you chill out 3 meters away from your TV in the living room, you’ll need a 60-inch TV or bigger to see the betterment. In order to make a difference, the further from the TV you sit, the bigger the 4 TV you need.
Zero 4k content, not worth my buy
Am here busy trying to convince you how 4k is the next big thing but, here comes the hard part, NO 4K content yet, even it would be available it would be too big in terms of size for those who download movies. A 1080p movie occupies a minimum of 1.2 GB if well encoded (mp4 or mkv movie format), so that means a movie with more detail like a 4k movie will have way more than that. Services like YouTube have announced that they will produce more 4K content beginning this year.
Keep in mind all of your existing HD content, including Blu-rays, (this excludes the cheap DVDs you buy on the streets) will work on an Ultra HD TV. They’ll be scaled up to fill the screen, though, so they won’t look as good as true 4K content.
Due to the problem of 4k occupying a lot of hard disk space or “burning” lot of data to stream, this calls for new video compression formats will allow even broadcasters and Web services to stream bulky 4K video files more easily. A video Standard Format H.265 (or HEVC—High Efficiency Video Codec) has been ordained by the Telecommunications Union recently to deliver video via Broadcast, Blu-ray, and Web. H.265 promises to deliver quality comparable to that of the previous H.264, despite using half the bandwidth. In response, Google has developed its own competing bandwidth-lite format, VP9, which the company will use to stream 4K videos on YouTube.
Time to check the pocket
Okay TIA, (This is Africa) and we all know 4K sets are very expensive at least for now, but will become affordable with time. The cheapest is in the range of UGX 2.5m ($1000) and in Uganda we have seen Heisense as the pioneer of 4K TVs, and of late we are seeing Sony join the bandwagon.
At least we have reached a point where it’s hard to find a new TV that isn’t HD. For those who have of late purchased a new HDTV, no need to worry. You can keep it in that sitting room of yours, even if everyone is talking about 4k you can sit tight and wait while the sets become cheaper, quality improves, and content becomes more readily available. For some of us early adopters, we can’t control ourselves, the urge for the latest tech always consumes the better part of me.
Even if the writer is broke, he will save to get that 4k beauty grace his home one day.