As Foxtel launches its dedicated 4K channel 444, EFTM.com.au founder and editor and Today show tech guru Trevor Long writes for Mediaweek about 4K TVs.
This is a landmark weekend for Australian television. It seems like hyperbole but in reality this is as big as when we went HD, and colour before that. This Sunday, Australia’s first 4K TV channel begins broadcasting, and the first day is dominated by a live sporting event in 4K. Huge!
What is 4K?
Put simply, it’s four times the number of pixels on the screen that we have today with Full HD. That means four times the resolution, four times the quality.
What difference will it make?
Increasing the number of pixels means more detail is available to be shown in every part of the scene, from the blades of grass to the fur on animals or the live action sports.
It’s hard to remember, but watch any classic sports games on TV from before HD and think about what it used to look like. Now imagine a similar leap forward.
Watching some classic Bathurst races this week, there are many times when you can’t read the sponsor names. In football it’s hard to make out a player name on a jersey. No more with 4K.
Will it look good on any 4K TV?
Actually, yes! Here’s why even the cheapest 4K TVs will look great: You put a 4K picture into a 4K TV and it knows exactly how to display every single pixel.
There are over 8 million pixels on the screen. So your TV knows what to show on Pixel #1 as much as it does for pixel #2,345,972
When you watch HD content on a 4K TV the TV “computer” is required to do what we call “Upscaling”. A Full HD picture has 2 million pixels. Your 4KTV needs to stretch them out and show them over the 8 million it has available.
It’s for this reason your cheap Aldi or Kogan TV looks good, but not as good as your mate with a Samsung, LG or Hisense when watching free-to-air HD content.
But throw 8 million pixels into even the cheapest 4K TV and it’s going to show you a cracking good picture – don’t fear buying a new “cheaper” model TV to get a glimpse at 4K.
For the main lounge room TV though, there’s a lot more to content than just pixels. There are HDR and sound to be considered – this is where the big brands are really excelling in the 4K future.
Do I need a big screen?
To be frank, yes. Unless you have a superhuman eye, most people really won’t notice the dramatic leap from Full HD and 4K on a television under 55 inches.
Personally, I’d be looking for a 65 inch TV or higher. That’s where this content is going to really shine.
Foxtel is pumping out the Bathurst 1000, but also some amazing documentaries, concerts and even a movie in just the first week of its new channel 444 – well worth a look.