With the Super Bowl not too far away, deals on televisions are everywhere. And more than likely, despite my urging for you to do otherwise, if you got something big you probably went with a 4K/UHD television. OK, part of me can’t blame you. I mean it’s not like the 3-D thing which was not the commercial success the TV manufacturers were hoping for. You don’t need special glasses to watch something in 4K/UHD. You do, however, need something in 4K/UHD. Your regular HD television shows don’t magically become true 4K/UHD just because your television is. Your TV will do an upconversion of whatever you’re watching to match its resolution, but that’s not the same. It looks great, but there IS a difference. A solid regular HD feed will look nice on a 4K television, but if you really want to see what it can REALLY do, you need a 4K/UHD source. Where do you get that? Glad you asked …
- Streaming – Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon has 4K/UHD programs available, but you may need to purchase something to use the app (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, even an XBox One or PS4 after they’re updated), and you’re DEFINITELY going to need a really good Internet connection. Bad Internet equals low bitrate, which in turn does not equal the best picture quality. We’re talking around 15 Mbps (megabits per second) for 4K/UHD. Low-cost DSL users need not apply here. Also, if you’re in a house full of people who do a lot of things on the Internet, your bandwidth is going to suffer around those times.
- 4K/UHD Blu-Ray – At some point this year, you’ll be able to purchase a Blu-ray player that will play 4K/UHD discs. In my opinion, this is the best option. You don’t have to worry about stuff like bitrates and bandwidth and data caps like you do with streaming, and because of that you’re going to see the movie with the best picture and sound quality. Two manufacturers (Samsung and Panasonic) have announced 4K/UHD Blu-Ray players at this year’s CES, and they’ll be released very soon with prices starting around $400. Considering the first Blu-ray players came in close to $1000, that ain’t bad. What IS bad is your initial selection of movies. Stuff like Spider-Man, The Martian, The Lego Movie (?), Fantastic Four, The Kingsmen … not to say that these are bad movies, but … meh. Hopefully some of the movies released this year will get the 4K/UHD treatment, but for now, you may not be too impressed with your selection when you pick up your player.
- Internet – Believe it or not, YouTube has 4K videos. Maybe not the movies you want to see, but there is stuff there. And most if not all 4K/UHD televisions have apps like YouTube that you can use to stream videos straight to your television without having to get an additional thing to hook up to your TV. Certain televisions have proprietary apps that you can ONLY use with that brand of TV, like Samsung having M-Go. But like I mentioned above, you’re going to need a good Internet connection.
- Cable/Satellite – No way Xfinity or DirecTV was going to sit this out and not have Video On Demand (VOD) offerings. You’ll probably have to upgrade your equipment, but hey … new TV, new things to connect to it.
So that should hold you over for a while. People are going to come over to watch your pretty new 4K/UHD television, and when they ask you what’s the big deal, you can refer to one of the options above and watch them gasp. It’s not as big of an image quality jump as say VHS to DVD (or even better VHS to Blu-ray), but a good 4K/HD program on a good TV is really a sight to see. Now … if you haven’t gotten a 4K/UHD television, but you’re ready to make the jump, WAIT. Really. There’s other things we need to discuss before you drop that cash …