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The really sweet spot for 4K TVs is not quite here, but it won’t be long in coming

by on November 11, 2014
 

by Stephan Jukic – November 11, 2014

Buying a new 4K TV can still be something of a confusing and awkward experience. This is because, for one thing, 4K itself is not really all that well known to many users and because even for those that do know the resolution and are looking to buy a set based on their knowledge, there can be a lot of variables at work.

Currently, most ultra HD TVs simply cost a lot more than most people are willing to fork over for a home entertainment system. This reluctance is compounded even further by the fact that native 4K content is still highly scarce on the ground and much of what is available from streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon is itself only accessible to a smaller percentage of users who have internet connections powerful enough to handle 4K streams.

Looking for a way out of this impasse, both retailers and UHD TV manufacturers have taken assorted measures on both the retail and technology fronts. On the retail end, these have consisted of releasing newer, more affordable 4K sets that actually do cost what could be considered a highly reasonable amount. However, even here problems arise.

Many of the 4K TVs that cost $1500 or less are also inferior in quality, come from lesser known brands and really don’t provide the same value as a higher end, name brand HDTV that still costs much less than they do and with a larger screen.

Two exceptions are the Vizio P-Series line of 50 inch TVs and the Samsung HU6950 50 inch ultra HD television. Both are priced at right below and above $1000 respectively and both provide some of the best technologies for full 4K viewing capacity. These features include HEVC decoding, HDMI 2.0 connectivity and DisplayPort 1.2 functionality. The Vizio model even provides full array LED backlighting, which is still normally considered a “premium” feature in most 4K TVs.

The Vizio P-Series line of 4K TVs

The Vizio P-Series line of 4K TVs offer promising quality for a lower than normal price

However, even here, we see problems arise. The Vizio model offers some truly excellent rendering of blacks on its screen thanks to the full array LED lighting feature but falters badly in terms of color display.

According to one reviewer, the film-to-digital transfer of movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” looked absolutely terrible without some serious and complex manual adjustment to the TVs display settings.

Upon questioning Vizio about this flaw, the reviewer was told that the problem is a default brightness rendering bug in the P-Series that still needs to be fixed with an upcoming firmware update.

The Samsung HU6950 fares much better at displaying the brilliant true colors of 4K content than its Vizio counterpart but takes a while to reach full 4K resolution on streaming content and completely underperforms at displaying dark shades, which is something the Vizio 50 inch P-Series TV excels at.

These are problematic details for the current lines of lower cost 4K TVs that are on sale and fixing them will still take a bit more time.

This is where it’s worth mentioning that retailers have also played on their 4K TVs capacity for “upscaling” regular HD content so that it displays much more beautifully on the ultra HD screens of their TVs. While this is a great incidental feature on these TVs, it simply doesn’t create enough of a difference from what would be shown on a regular HD TV to justify the higher price of a UHD model.

The overall conclusion that can be drawn for the future of 4K TVs is that, while 4K TV is definitely here to stay and keep encroaching on the HDTV sales landscape, it’s still a little bit off from its truly ideal zone in which both great prices for higher end models become more common and real 4K content itself becomes more widely available. This might still take at least a few more months.

Story by 4k.com

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