What Is 4K TV?

If you're in the market for a new TV or just like to keep up with TV technology trends, you've likely come across 4K. As one of the latest innovations in TV tech, 4K promises even better picture quality than the already highly-popular HD format, and has become synonymous with "Ultra-HD."

While 3D TVs are still striving to expand their share of the TV industry, 4K televisions and the Ultra-HD movement will likely continue to gain ground. Here's a look at what 4K is, and the impact it could have on your movie night and your wallet.

What does "4K" mean?

You have probably already experienced 4K without even knowing it. The name "4K" comes from the cinema standard of 4096x2160 pixels, so if you've been to a movie recently, you've seen 4K.

The 4K televisions boast a slightly lower pixel count at 3840x2160, but the result is still four times the number of pixels you get with the standard HD format of 1920x1080. With over 8 million pixels, 4K TVs offer better detail and image depth, providing a more immersive viewing experience.

Does 4x the pixels give you 4x the picture quality?

There is definitely a noticeable difference between HD and 4K, but you really have to be seated in the right spot to experience it. For the best viewing experience, TV experts recommend you sit within six to ten feet of the screen. If viewing from father away, the image likely won't appear to be any better than HD, as the average eye is incapable of distinguishing the resolution differences from longer distances.

The smaller the screen, the less noticeable Ultra-HD's qualities are. Therefore, manufacturers are making them big, at least for the time being. You'll have a hard time finding a 4K TV under 50", and if there is one constant in the TV world, it's that new technology plus a big screen equals big bucks.

What could you expect to pay for a 4K TV?

Remember when DVD players sold for hundreds of dollars? Whenever a new TV technology comes out, it usually comes at a high price, and 4K TVs were no different. Some of the first 4K TVs were going for well over $10,000.

The prices for 4K TVs have leveled off a bit, and as more 4K TVs hit the market, they will likely drop further. Many retailers already offer 4K TVs for prices comparable to other TV types on the market. You can now find 4K TVs for under $1,000 from some of the industry's leading manufacturers.

Is there a lot of 4K programming available?

As of right now, not really. Streaming services are beginning to offer select programming in 4K, and DIRECTV has a channel dedicated exclusively to the format. This channel is experimenting with broadcasting live sporting events in 4K, and recently featured live coverage of the Masters Golf Tournament 2016.

Though there isn't much 4K programming out there yet, you can rest assured that it's coming. As more programming and movies become available in 4K formatting, you may find the price of 4K televisions to be well worth it.