13 Jun 4K – What is all the Fuss About?
You have probably seen the term 4K (or by its official name “Ultra High Definition (UHD) – plastered around retailers, televisions, projectors, Blu-ray players and of course Sky Q! You’re also probably sitting there wondering what all the fuss is about. Perhaps you’ve already got yourself a 4K setup and are indulging in the best picture quality available.
Now, if you’ve not yet stumbled across any of this content, let us give you the quick ‘low down’ on what this latest technological advance in home theatre is all about!
Resolution, it is all about the picture.
4K isn’t just a random number that has no meaning. It is the resolution of your picture or number of pixels on your screen, 3840 pixels wide and 2160 pixels high is 4K or UHD. To put this into context, your standard HDTV is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. This means 4K is the equivalent of four times a standard screen resolution, and yes, you really can notice the difference! The picture is much sharper; you see the brightest colours, the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. Once you own a 4K UHD TV or Projector, you’ll realise what you’ve been missing out on.
Content, it is out there – you just need to look in the right places.
Is 4K content easily available? As long as you have a 4K setup, you can obtain 4K content from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Sky Q, Virgin, BT, UHD Blu-rays and games consoles – it is everywhere.
More and more 4k content is becoming available – nearly every film release is brought out on UHD Blu-ray with Sky and similar companies providing downloadable 4k content for sports, films and documentaries along with full 4k standard channels. Sony and Microsoft have built 4k consoles that run 4k games, films and streamable content.
Hardware and Distribution – single room and multi-room considerations.
In a single room, it couldn’t be easier – as long as everything is 4K* compliant. For example a 4K UHD TV or Projector showing 4K content through compliant hardware, such as the latest Sky Q box, all connected via professional-grade 4K compliant HDMI cables will ensure you enjoy the best UHD content has to offer.
To save having local hardware for each TV professional installers, including ourselves, recommend a centralised racking system to house your video and audio hardware which is then distributed across multiple TVs throughout your home. When it comes to 4K, this is where things can be somewhat more challenging. In order to display a UHD picture, all cables in the pipeline must be 4k compatible. This includes all video sources and televisions, all content hardware, televisions, the video matrix, any video baluns and all associated cabling must all be 4K quality – each device must have both an HDMI 2.0 socket and the HDCP2.2 chipset.
With the demands of displaying UHD quality picture, the maximum distance between the 4K content hardware and displaying television must be less than 70m. For any TV/projector with resolution below 4K or beyond the 70m distance, the picture may simply not display.
It is very common – and will likely remain so until 4K becomes the standard – in a multi-room set up there may be a mixture 1080p and 4K TVs.
In this scenario, you would need to decide whether you continue to share the content on all TVs. If the answer is yes, the images on every TV, including the 4K ones, will display at the lowest denomination, effectively ‘downgrading’ them all to 1080p. In doing this you are losing out on the highest quality images – not to mention the high-level investment you have made in purchasing the latest 4K resolution televisions.
If, on the other hand you do not wish to compromise display quality this would be served only to the 4K televisions, leaving any connected 1080p televisions with a blank screen. Certainly, not an ideal solution…
So what now?
The question is, do you invest in the latest 4K televisions or in more content hardware and determine how to split and distribute the chosen content (bearing in mind there may be potential issues from content providers with regards to multiple streaming subscriptions)?
This is where we can come in. Pro Media Solutions can help you understand the capabilities, potential pitfalls and discuss your options – both for now and in the future.
We provide professional installation and maintenance of top quality video systems. By supplying an advanced 4K video matrix, UHD TVs and projectors and distributing your chosen 4K content through a professional quality cable infrastructure, we can get your property 4K ready.
You can stay up to date with all the latest in home technology, automation and home entertainment by following us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Of course, you can email us or call on 0345 505 1760 to speak with one of our experts.
[*When we state 4K this means each device must support the HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 protocols. Some of the first-generation 4K TVs, although ‘supporting’ 4K resolution did not have this full protocol suite resulting in them not being able to display beyond a 1080p resolution].
Feature image – cigdem