Battle of the Pixels: HDTV vs. 4K

A TV is more a reflection of us than any other gadget we have at home. And buying one is no less than an event!

From deciding amongst brands, scheduling store visits for demos, scouting for discounts and even getting rid of the previous behemoth; it’s an outright challenge. Compounding this task is the debate on HDTV vs. 4K. If the confusion between plasma and vs. LED screens didn’t scare you; maybe terms like HD, full HD, and even 4k might.

Oh by the way; incase I forgot to mention, some of them aren’t even straight any more (the screens of course)!

Pixels & Resolution: The Basics

Electronic screens have displays – like in our mobiles, laptops and TV screens. Each display has a resolution; which is dependent on the number of pixels in that display. Pixels are the dots that make for an image on a screen. The greater the number of pixels, the higher the resolution and hence: sharper the image. When we can see individual pixels, they appear ‘blocky’ and dead, which is why a display with greater pixels is always preferred.

4K by that understanding is the best there is in the market as of now. It has almost 4 times the pixels vs. HDTV! To give us all a better perspective, there are more pixels on a 4K display than there are number of seconds in 90 days. And that’s a lot.

Since there is very little 4K content to watch, lot of TVs upscale video content. Simply put, when you play HD content (1920 x 1080p) on a 4K screen (3840 x 2160) there are a lot of pixels left empty. To undo this, TVs optimize all available pixels by stretching an image across the entire screen. This is called upscaling.

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3 compelling reasons why buying 4K isn’t worth the money!

Read on…

Reason #1: How close is close enough?

Most people aren’t as noticing nor have the eyesight required to notice minute differences on a screen – no matter how big. One might argue, that by sitting closer to the TV, differences are very visible, but then again, that’s at 2-3 feet (the exact same distance you ogled at it when in the electronics store). Since most people sit at a distance of 8 to 10 feet from their TV, one just cannot notice 2 pixels separately – whether it is a 4K screen or an HDTV. Since that was the entire logic behind buying 4K in the first place, all that investment really doesn’t pay off. Period.

Also sitting at a distance of 9 to 10 feet, one needs to buy a TV that is around 84 inches in screen size, which is virtually out of bounds for most (read EXPENSIVE!).

Reason #2: Nothing path breaking!

While 4K displays are sharp, manufacturers haven’t really done anything path breaking to come out with this technology. TV screens are made out of cutting big sheets of glass (aka mother glass) into small sizes to make smaller screens. So by not cutting them into smaller pieces, they get a bigger display, which means more pixels, which means sharper images. But, does that justify a consumer spending so much more, especially if you already have a TV that has a HD screen? Not at all! Just because a car has a larger engine or a camera has greater megapixels, it doesn’t really mean that they are better pieces of equipment. Go ahead; surf around. You will only realize how uninformed most people are.

Reason #3: 4K Signal.

At stores that play immaculate videos at 4K signal, all screens look way too good. But at home, with barely HD quality of video feed, even the best of TVs look bad!

So while Netflix and Amazon do have 4K streaming signals; viewers won’t be able to tell much difference anyways.  Moreover, Xbox One and PS4 don’t handle 4K! Forget about other Blu-ray channels too.

So are you open to that additional subscription expense of Netflix / Amazon every year; considering that you almost emptied your pocket buying this larger than life 4K screen (remember: at least 80 inches)?

Probably not.

Bottom line: Wait for a bit.

It’s going to be a while for 4K TVs and 4K content to become mainstream. This means a long time for the prices to fall. A lot more time if you consider that you need something at least 80 inches in screen size to make any meaningful difference to your watching ways.

Till then friends sit tight. You might even want to look at your HDTV screen again. Is it really all that bad vs. a 4K screen?

What if I want a 4K no matter what?

Well, the heart wants what the heart wants. If you’re strung on getting a big rig, you just as well should look at the Sony XBR85X850D .

This is an 85-Inch, 4K HDR, Ultra HD Smart TV (2016 model) and has been rated an average of 4.5/5 stars on Amazon. You can also opt for an additional 4 year cover for $280. The TV comes with 4 HDMI ports and 3 USB ports as well. The voice remote control is a joy to use and is a stand out feature

We recommend this one for sure.

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Battle of the Pixels: HDTV vs. 4K

time to read: 3 min