High Definition has been a familiar term in the broadcasting world as early as 1936, but that was in comparison to the resolution in place during those times. It wasn’t until 1988 that the first “high definition” picture would actually be seen on TV and that was a documentary shown on PBS. Fast-forward to early 2000’s and many stations and production studios were taking advantage of this “new” technology. Twelve years later, enter the new kid on the block, 4K also known in the consumer world as Ultra High Definition (UHD). UHD and 4K are becoming the new standard to record and view content, with companies taking advantage of the latest craze by producing cameras that record in 4K or companies building their 4K streaming libraries, but is it time for you to upgrade cameras, computers, televisions, and the like to keep up with technology? According to brainshark.com 33% of tablet owners watch one hour of video per day on their device and mobile engagement is expected to continue to rise through 2015 and beyond. Where will UHD fit in if we are moving away from bigger screens down to more mobile engagement?
UHD is without a doubt impressive and has become more affordable for small production houses and consumers to get their hands on with the introduction of RED’s line of cinema cameras and Panasonic’s game changing DSLT the GH4. Since then 4K is becoming the new standard at which videos are being produced. The idea of 4K is wonderful; it’s the implementation down to the consumer level that isn’t pretty. To appreciate 4K in its full resolution requires 4K capable viewing options, without that you’re watching down scaled 4K… which is still 1080 or what you’re watching right now (admit it, it looks great). 1080p internet TV’s just became more affordable to the average consumer and now with an all new resolution on the horizon companies are pushing out 4K televisions left and right. I agree with the idea that 4K is here to stay, but for the average consumer 4K or UHD are just words and numbers without any real meaning.
Before jumping off the 4K cliff many factors need to be considered. First, the technology is still fresh and rapidly changing. Fighting off the urge to be first will allow consumers to enjoy the spoils from price wars amongst manufacturers as they battle to fill consumer homes with 4K electronics. Secondly, content is king and still being created to fill 4K streaming libraries. 4K Blu-ray DVD’s won’t be a thing until later in 2015, and gaming consoles have yet to catch up or give any real thought to 4K. Waiting to upgrade will give you the opportunity to watch the technology grow, cash in on great deals, and have more content available to watch. The true cost of 4K right now could easily be well over $2500 (American) for the average consumer.