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The 4K TV landscape is still a construction site and this needs to change

by on February 3, 2015

Stephan Jukic – February 3, 2015

In 2015, everything is starting to really fall into place for the 4K TV and its technological ecosystem.

4K content services are on the verge of exploding, new ultra HD models are plentiful, varied and becoming cheaper than ever before and have reached the point where every major electronics retailer no longer has just a few strange showpiece 4K TV set on display but instead sells whole rows of assorted TVs at all sorts of prices, just like ordinary HD TVs.

Furthermore, the latest UHD TVs can upscale HD content, come with all sorts of built-in connectivity and are literally crammed full of awesome apps. Then there are all the new features that come with them. We’re now seeing quantum dot TVs, OLED technology and even TVs that can mimic the insanity of 8K resolution.

In fact, there is a good chance that 2015 is the year in which more ultra HD TVs models emerge than normal HDTV sets.

None of this is hype, 4K is set to truly explode and it’s not going anywhere but into the full mainstream just like HDTV did several years ago, only with these new TVs, the entire surrounding ecosystem of streaming content, smart TV, web connectivity and live 4K broadcasts is far more advanced, varied and potentially flexible than anything that accompanied HD when it became big.

However, there is still one problem and it needs to be fixed urgently: The ultra HD TV landscape is a heavily fragmented construction zone of competing proprietary technologies and arbitrary limitations that absolutely need to go the way of the dodo.

Exclusivity deals, limitations based on internet bandwidth, situations in which certain content providers will only play their content on certain types of 4K TVs and even lingering problems with video compression standards and 4K TVs that can’t play certain content because they lack the proper codec specs.

HEVC compression for streaming 4K content is now standard for UHD TVs and content providers

HEVC compression for streaming 4K content is now standard for UHD TVs and content providers

These are all some of the “construction site” problems that we’re talking about. Essentially, all types of 4K content from all sources isn’t yet available on any 4K TV and there are no dead simple plug-and-play devices or streaming content boxes that easily and quickly provide access to 4K content on any UHD TV or home entertainment system.

Basically, when it comes to 4K TVs, they themselves are the content delivery platforms for the entertainment you want to watch on them and so far, the landscape of which TVs can provide which content is still divided by numerous silly barriers, sort of like what you’d see with web applications in an operating system war.

But this is the thing; because 4K is definitely here to stay, 4K TVs will only get better –it’s guaranteed– and these arbitrary content and usage barriers are quickly going to disappear as the technology around ultra HD standardizes even further.

In other words, the construction site badly needs to be cleaned up, the players who are building the 4K ecosystem know that it needs to be cleaned up and they will soon clear the junk away. When that happens, most likely within the next year, then 4K ultra HD TVs will truly become the flexible, powerful platform that they should be, and that will be the best possible time to buy into them as a consumer.

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  • Al Rowland
    February 4, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Already on board with two 39″ 4K tvs used as computer monitors. Home system is used to edit 4K video from my 4K video camera. Waiting for some stability and for the price of 4K OLED to come down a bit before I upgrade the 63″ plasma in the living room. 105″ is awesome but the $99,999 price is only if I win the lottery.


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