Television manufacturers are always eager to shore up their business with new technology and are gearing up to roll out sets with what's known as 4K screen resolution. These TVs, which should start to hit store shelves in the United States later this year, have about four times the resolution of 1080p screens, the current standard for high-definition sets.
Regardless of the size of its screen, a 1080p TV has about 2 million
pixels arrayed across 1,920 vertical columns and 1,080 horizontal
rows. Although electronics manufacturers haven't yet settled on a
standard, 4K resolutions generally have at least 7 million pixels -
and sometimes many more - arranged across about 4,000 columns and
2,000 rows. All those extra pixels allow 4K televisions to display
images in much finer detail than HDTVs.
On bigger screen sizes at close distances, the difference between
1080p and 4K is stunning. At a close viewing range, HD video on a
big screen can look pixilated, and colors and images can blur into
the background. By contrast, 4K video looks super sharp and almost
lifelike. At a further distance the difference tends to be less
You might want to wait for 4K. The first 4K TVs will likely be
outrageously expensive. Toshiba's 55-inch 4K television is already
available in Japan for $10,000 or so. Another reason to wait is that
no shows are being produced in 4K yet. In fact very few are produced
in 3D so far, but ESPN is betting that many will love the 3D sports
events it will be producing.
The 4K video processor should only add about $10 to the cost of a
TV, but the big cost issue is the display technology. The ability to
cram that many pixels into a relatively small space is on the
cutting edge of display manufacturers' capabilities.
Manufacturers will only sell about 5,000 4K TVs this year worldwide
and won't sell more than a million per year until 2015. 3D TV should
be selling more units by then, also.