Here come the ‘quad density’ TVs

It seems most vendors will have one or two quad density TVs out by Christmas. These TVs are sometimes referred to as 4K TVs.

What is a 4K TV?

A 4K TV has a horizontal pixel count of 3,840 pixels. This is double the horizontal pixel count of a 1080p HD TV, which is 1920 pixels.

Why are they called 4K or quad density TVs?

A quad density television has exactly 8,294,400 pixels (3,840 x 2,160) compared to your ‘standard’ full high definition TV which has 2,073,600 (1,920 x 1080). If you divide one by the other you get 4—hence ‘quad’ or 4K.

So why do we need quad density TVs?

Once a 1080 high definition TV screen gets much bigger than 120cm in the ‘average’ viewing room in the average home then it is technically TOO big. At this stage people with 20/20 vision will be able to see the pixels and the image on the TV will lose visual sharpness.

This loss of visual sharpness can be ‘fixed’ by moving further away from the TV. But there are two issues here. Firstly you need to get about five metres away from the screen to retain visual sharpness. In most average modern homes getting five metres back from the screen will be a challenge. Secondly, as you move further away the effective size of the screen reduces. This sort of negates the whole idea of buying that bigger screen.

So, to fix this problem you need to buy a higher density screen. Then you can sit closer to the screen and maintain visual sharpness of the picture.

Hence the introduction of 4K screens.

But then we have a whole other problem.

All broadcasters in the western world only broadcast 1K or 1080p as their highest quality transmissions. And in fact, about 50 percent of the time they actually broadcast 720p and your television up-scales it to 1080p for you.

Most DVDs are 576, which is about 0.5K. Most Blu-ray disks are 720 and some, not many, are full 1080. None are currently 2,160 or 4K.

So if you buy one of these new fangled 4K TVs for Christmas basically there is nothing much you can play on it that is actually 4K.

This are some reports that the new Microsoft Xbox One will have some games that can be played in 4K that will be released later in the year or early in 2014.

If you use your TV to connect to the Internet then this will work in 4K (assuming you buy the right TV).

But the bottom line right now is that there will be next to nothing in the way of TV programming or movies that you will be able to watch in 4K.

Want to read more about 4K TVs? Then try here for an item at Engadget, or here at the Sony site, or here at Tech Radar for “Everything you need to know”.