What are 4K TVs and why would you want one?


This 4K TV produced the best sound I’ve ever heard

If you’re confused about what 4K TVs are and why they are relevant in today’s world then read on. 

I was recently invited to come and visit Sony’s headquarters in the UK where I got a chance to look and play with their latest tech. The most innovative and interesting tech is coming from their TVs and boy, is the world of television about to change.

TV tech has stayed around the same for a good number of years now but exciting changes are finally coming. 4K means there’s four times as many pixels as there is in a full HD TV, that’s over 8 million pixels. It’s a huge difference picture wise which obviously, you can only realise when you see it for yourself. But to give you an idea – I stood in front of an 84″ Sony 4K TV and I couldn’t pick out the pixels. You could comfortably stand (or sit) at no more than two feet away and the picture still looked amazing. 

4K also adds a huge amount of depth. Even though the 84″ 4K TV we were shown, worth £25,000, also has 3D built in, Sony said that 3D was the gimmick and 4K was the real next big thing. I agree, and I’m sure that most people who do own a 3D TV would say that they barely use that function. With a 4K image you feel as if you’re looking into the TV, instead of having things come out at you, which is probably what most people would prefer. 

Now it’s all well and good saying how nice the picture looks in 4K but what use would you have for such a TV when blu-rays and games aren’t in 4K yet? Well 4K TVs can up-scale current blu-ray discs to almost 4K quality. To prove how well this works we were shown an 84″ 1080p Sharp TV and a Sony 4K TV of the same size. Both TVs played a blu-ray disc from the exact same blu-ray player (the signal was being split between the two) and it was clear the up-scaling really did work. This was also noticeable in images, when the same photo of a Japanese newspaper page was shown on the two TVs, you could clearly read the text on the 4K TV whereas the words were just a blur on the 1080p TV. 

The best TV we were shown was a 55″ 4K TV with speakers on either side of screen. This seemed like a downside at first because it made the TV very wide and the speakers sort of draw your eyes away from the screen. When we were demoed how the sound sounded though, we were blown away. It’s something you have to hear for yourself but it sounded better than most surround sound systems, let alone better than any TV. This incredible sound was thanks to something called Magnetic Fluid which was developed by NASA as it’s super conductive. Sony are currently the only brand using it in their speakers, it’s already available in some of their surround sound systems. Magnetic Fluid also allows Sony to make the speakers smaller, which is why they’ve managed to get three speakers on either side of the TV frame. It’s not everyone’s taste look wise, but the sound is so mind-blowing, it’s worth it. Plus this TV was in it’s early stage, the model we saw was hand-built and isn’t the final product.

Sony are working on making 4K TVs more accessible to the general public, with their new range coming out in July this year. It’s unclear how much they will cost (or how much their competitors will charge) but 4K is definitely the future. It may take a while for the rest of technology to catch up, for example 3 minutes worth of 4K video (uncompressed) is 300GB! But the fact that 4K up-scaling can make such a huge difference to your blu-rays and photos, means it’s worth getting one now, if you can afford it.