What is 4K TV?
Netflix and Sky Sports deserve better than your HD TV. Upgrade to a 4K model with our non-techy guide to the benefits…
The best TVs from the likes of Samsung, Sony and LG are all now 4K Ultra HD televisions. These are fast replacing HD models as the TV of choice in our living rooms. Sky and Netflix are geared up for 4K, and you can now buy a 4K TV for under £500.
But what exactly is 4K? Read on…
How does 4K TV work?
To get better picture quality, you need a TV screen made up of more pixels. The number of pixels is measured in the screen resolution.
HD TVs have a screen resolution of 2 million pixels, whereas 4K TVs have a resolution of 8.3 million pixels. This means they offer you 4 times the detail of a HDTV.
How will it look better than my HD TV?
Your picture will be packed with detail and have more depth on a 4K TV, compared to your Full HD set. It’ll be much sharper too, and have a wider range of colours.
The razor-sharp picture on 4K screens puts HD TVs far in the shade. And the bigger the screen you choose, the more noticeable the improvement.
High dynamic range, also known as HDR, features on many of the latest 4K UHD TVs. This gives you better contrast and more vibrant colours. HDR can highlight tiny, nuanced changes in shade, giving you detailed shadows and sensationally bright scenes.
Some 4K TVs combine the above with quantum dots, a tiny layer of crystals added to the screen to further improve colour and brightness.
What can I watch on my 4K TV?
Loads. Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Netflix and Amazon Prime all have decent amounts of 4K content – to get the best from a 4K TV you need the right kind of content in the same way as you had BBC HD and Sky HD for HD TVs.
Most 4K TVs have apps for Netflix and Amazon Prime built in.
Football fan? Watch the 2017/18 season in style on Sky Sports – 124 games were shown in Ultra HD during last season as Chelsea won the title.
Box-set binger? Netflix offers big hitters like Stranger Things, House of Cards and The Crown in 4K.
Adventurer? The Grand Tour with Clarkson and co is on Amazon Prime in 4K, while Sky has David Attenborough documentaries.
Movie lover? Spectre and The Martian are among the films you can enjoy on Sky Cinema, while Ultra HD Blu-ray delivers an incredible experience for real home cinema enthusiasts.
And the 4K offering is growing all the time. Invest in a 4K model now and you’ll have a TV that’s future-proofed for years to come.
Don’t forget: To watch Sky in 4K Ultra HD you need the new Sky Q 2TB box with multiscreen subscription
And when I’m watching BBC One and ITV?
You won’t always be watching 4K, but when you’re tuning into BBC or ITV, they too look better than on your current television.
That’s because your 4K TV will upscale it to be much sharper thanks to a built-in processing engine. So you’ll still get greater depth and more vibrant colours.
The benefits of upscaling are most clearly seen with HD channels like BBC One HD and ITV HD.
Tip: It’s worth investing in a more expensive TV with a better processing engine if you want better upscaling.
What is Ultra HD premium?
High-end 4K Ultra HD TVs from 2016 onwards will have an Ultra HD Premium sticker to show they meet certain criteria.
They include minimum requirements for resolution, colour bit depth, colour gamut (the range of colours it can show) and high dynamic range (HDR).
The idea is if you see an Ultra HD Premium logo on a TV, you know it’s future-proofed to give you the best possible 4K experience.
The standards were created by the UHD Alliance - a group made up of names like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Netflix, Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox.
Is now a good time to buy a 4K UHD TV?
There’s not been a better time to buy a 4K UHD TV – says our large screen TV buyer, Daler Bhaker.
‘You have more choice, the prices are coming down,’ he explains.
You can now buy a 4K UHD TV for under £500, with 40-inch screen sizes available for smaller rooms, for example.
‘If you buy a 4K TV today you’re only going to reap the benefits more and more as time goes on and more content becomes available,’ says Daler.
And with the likes of LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic all getting on board with their own 4K ranges, you know you’ll be buying into the future of TV technology.