LG's monstrous 84in 4K TV is already on sale in the UK
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, pretty much every TV manufacturer was proudly demonstrating Ultra HD screens, which are also known as 4K TVs.
These TVs have four times more pixels than Full HD sets, and it’s easy to get over-excited at such a prospect, especially once you’ve seen the stunning demo reels and marvelled at the better-than-real-life picture quality.
However, while those manufacturers are rubbing their collective hands in glee at the opportunity of selling punters a new TV, Ultra HD has a problem.
In fact, 4K TVs have several problems at the moment.
One is resolution. Since there's no official standard, a 4K TV might have a resolution of 3840x2160 or 4096x2160. This near-4,000 pixel horizontal resolution is the reason they're called 4K TVs, in case you're wondering.
Another isse is the lack of content. Last year, everyone said 3D was going to be the big thing but even now, there are relatively few 3D broadcasts.
4K will have the same problem. Netflix is already trialling a 4K streaming service, Sony promises a “4K content delivery system” by this summer and at least one UK broadcaster is also running trials, but it could still be years before programmes you actually want to watch are shown in Ultra HD.
Next on the list of hurdles is price. LG already has a 4K TV on sale in the UK, the 84LM960V. It costs £22,499 including VAT. Only rich sportsmen need apply, then. Smaller and more affordable models are on the way (LG launched 55in and 65in companions at CES), but these will still cost well over £10,000.
Then, arguably the biggest problem of all, is size. Few people in the UK have space (or are willing to put up with) a 55in TV in their lounge, and that’s probably the realistic minimum size for 4K. We’re certain manufacturers will produce smaller versions, but at normal viewing distances the extra detail may not be particularly noticeable.
Finally, most people didn’t upgrade to HD just to get a better picture. They also got a much slimmer TV with extra features like BBC iPlayer and new connections such as HDMI. 4K TVs will be a much harder sell so, like 3D, the uptake could be pretty slow.