All about 4k tech, and if you need it

  • Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2016 15:52 IST
Panasonic’s DX900, is the first LED LCD TV in the world to meet the stringent standards ‘Ultra HD Premium’

In the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding 4k, with TVs, cameras, laptops and smartphones supporting the technology launching faster than ever before. Just last week Netflix made news with its launch that promised streaming in Ultra HD video quality. However, if you are still wondering how exactly 4k works or if it the right time to get it, we have the answers.

What exactly is 4k?

It is the latest resolution defined for images. As part of this technology, the number of pixels found in a full-HD image is quadrupled (x4). In spite of this huge enhancement, there is no impact on its quality.

How the consumer benefits from it.

One of the bigger advantages offered by 4k is that the layout of a picture has a matrix of 3840x2160 pixels as compared to 1920x1080 in full-HD. “In simple words, 4k brings more detail, depth, clarity, and colour to the picture. The technology also dramatically reduces any visible pixel structure on the screen,” says Kuldeep Malik, country head — corporate sales India, MediaTek India, a leading processor manufacturer . The end result is a more intimate viewing experience with images that have a higher photographic quality.

What to keep in mind.

There are a number of devices available in the market that support 4k resolution, from TVs and cameras to projectors and computer monitors. “During purchase, do remember that a 4k display is the first requirement. When buying a TV, look specifically for HEVC/H.265 (a video compression software) that supports 4k,” says Manish Sharma, president CEAMA and managing director, Panasonic India and South Asia. Do remember that owning an enabled device does not mean that all available content will automatically convert to 4k. That depends on the quality of the content. Also, online streaming of 4k content can mean additional cost from the service operator.

Livestream Movi is a mini video camera that films in 4K resolution for unrivalled live-stream quality.

Does it make sense to invest in a 4k-supported device since most content available in India does not support it?

The transition time of shifting from relatively old technology to newer trends is reducing. For example, the shift from HD to full-HD was relatively quicker in comparison to SD to HD. “Last year, a few cricketing events were transmitted in 4k. Today, many Direct-to-Home (DTH) providers are already providing 4k set-top boxes, and one or two channels are also running in 4k resolution. Movies are already available, and with Netflix launching in India and Blu-ray players also supporting the technology, content availability will increase in no time,” says Anuj Ayodhyawasi, business head, home entertainment, LG India.

The future of 4k.

Experts believe that 4k is the new future of television as well as the photo and imaging industry, but the process of content development and adoption for any new technology takes time. “Owing to the incredibly impressive viewing experience with superior picture quality, coupled with increasingly aggressive marketing, we expect a strong growth in this segment,” says Sharma.

Of course, there are challenges, especially due to the steep price of 4k TVs or cameras, and developing infrastructure and content. “So, putting together the ecosystem is crucial to the future of 4k adoption in India,” says Malik.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium comes with a 5.5-inch 4K display, said to be a first for a smartphone.

Four cast: A 4-point guide to a better viewing experience

1 All devices supporting 4k may not highlight this feature. A user needs to check the device specifications to verify if 4k is enabled on it.

2 The user should also keep in mind that the device being used — be it a television, video projector, or outboard video processor — has to upscale the incoming 3D or 2D signal from its source to the desired 4k resolution. A 4k resolution won’t necessarily give you a better picture if the processing electronics behind it are bad.

3 Larger TV screen sizes and/or lesser-viewing distances make the viewing experience a lot better.

4 Just as full-HD quality varies between Blu-ray movies, streaming services and broadcast TV channels, 4k video quality varies from device to device supporting 4k. So, be prepared for variations.

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