The upcoming holiday season means now is the time of year when stores are hosting blowout sales for any and every piece of technology, which means if you were looking to upgrade your TV, it’s time to hit the street and look for deals.
For those looking for a serious TV upgrade, 4K Ultra High Definition televisions are the new gold standard for home viewing. They offer an incredibly good quality and have few downsides, making them excellent television sets. However, as with any expensive and advanced piece of equipment, you’re going to want to know a little bit about them before you whip out your card to make a purchase. Here are five must-know tips before shopping for a 4K television this Christmas.
1. Ensure that it is an Ultra HD television
Although 4K televisions have been around for at least two years, it wasn’t until this year that the UHD Premium branding came into existence, establishing a set of criteria for the quality of a television to be considered Ultra HD.
4K televisions don’t all meet this criteria, but many take advantage of the fact that consumers know next to nothing about the UHD Premium branding. For examples, there is still a debate around ULED vs OLED for display screens, but neither is definitely better than the other when it comes to high-resolution technology.
Be sure your television does have it, as that means it met the following certifications: a resolution of at least 3840×2160; 10-bit color depth; a minimum brightness and darkness set by the organization; the ability to display at least 90 percent of the P3 color gamut; and high-dynamic range.
2. Pay attention to the HDR10/Dolby difference
There’s two different types of high-dynamic range, or HDR, technology on the market: an open format, HDR10, and a closed format by Dolby that is installed with a chip. The two differences matter insofar as different companies will have preferences towards one or the other, and some content producers don’t release videos that are compatible with both versions, which means you may need to consider what content is on the market before deciding on either HDR10 or Dolby.
The former, as an open format, can be installed on Dolby televisions later, but a chip cannot be installed to make a television Dolby-formatted later on.
3. 4K content is increasingly available
On the other hand, no matter what decision you make on HDR technology, know that media that takes advantage of a 4K television’s stunning detail is increasingly available, including on major streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.
There’s still some debate between Paid TV services which are at the forefront of offering 4K content, and other free services like YouTube which are also quickly increasing 4K content. Since the iPhone 6, home-produced 4K content has exploded, which means even your phone videos and photos can be displayed in full, crisp incredible quality on a 4K television.
4. Consider a smart TV
A smart TV that can connect to the internet and will be the best way to enjoy 4K content on your 4K television. So much of it comes from online streaming services and online video aggregators that without an internet connectivity, your television will rarely be able to feature 4K technology without the additional purchase of a 4K Blue-Ray player or a sudden increase in television shows airing in 4K, which is unlikely to occur anytime soon.
This can also be a major boom for 4K gaming, which is also taking off. Microsoft recently released a 4K-compatible XBox, and Sony offers 4K game service PlayStation Now, which requires an internet connection.
5. You will spend a good chunk of money
There’s no way to dance around it: 4K televisions remain expensive for the average shopper, although they’ve certainly come a long way from the selling points of $25,000 or more. A good 4K television will cost you several thousand dollars. The range can vary from the mid-1000s to about $6,000 for lower-end 4K televisions, and between $15,000 and $40,000 for higher-end models.
Although a small handful of 4K televisions are on the market for less than $1000, mostly by Seiki, they’re generally pretty bare-bones, poor performers, and you can get a much better quality television that isn’t 4K for the price. Below $1000, you’re buying a cheap television for the chance to say you have a 4K television.
If a 4K television is right for you, this holiday season is the time to get to the stores and start comparison shopping for a new, beautiful and high-quality television. But if you can’t afford to drop more than $1000 on one set, skip the 4K this year – it’ll probably be available next year for much cheaper.
Featured photo credit: LG전자 via flic.kr