Bringing Home 4K
Now that so many great 4K TVs are available for purchase, many clients and friends have been asking us how to pick out a good 4K Ultra High Definition TV or display for their offices/homes. Being that we have become the 4K production authority here in Idaho, we decided it was time to throw together something of a buyer’s guide both for work and pleasure.
First step, big or small?
Size does matter. There are two primary uses for 4K displays, the first being as a media viewing device (TV) in your home or office. In this case I recommend a display no smaller than 50” and optimally 65”+. This is because you will see the biggest 4K difference either the closer you are to the screen or the bigger the screen is. So if you want to go 4K for a TV, go big or go home. Now, if you are looking for a quality 4K computer monitor, you likely don’t want to be sitting 12 inches away from a 65” TV. In this case I would say anything from 27” - 32” would be optimal.
Second step, the importance of connections.
On TVs, the most important thing to keep in mind is not all HDMI ports are created equal. Many of the older low cost 4K TVs on the market are rocking HDMI 1.4, this is not good for 4K content. The reason for this is that HDMI 1.4 only supports up to a 30hz motion refresh rate at 4K. This means fast action scenes, video games and sports will suffer. HDMI 2.0 however supports up to 60hz at 4K and this improvement makes a massive difference. Bottom line, don’t purchase a 4K TV unless it has at least one HDMI 2.0 port. Now on to the computer monitor front. For the same reasons above, if you are planning to use HDMI you want 2.0 only, however the other option available in computer monitors is DisplayPort. Most DP connections also allow for 60hz at 4K making monitors with DP the prime choice.
Third step, built in options
Generally speaking, I have never been a huge fan of built in software trinkets or smart TVs, however that has changed tremendously with 4K technology. The main reason is that right now there are not a lot of great external media players and devices that support 4K. So be sure to buy a TV that does what you want. In this case h265 hardware decoding and solid built in media players are very important. For these options do your research and stick to the common household names like Vizio, LG, Sony, Samsung and Sharp. Many of the Chinese knockoffs do not have good built in software or hardware. Another good thing to keep in mind is how you will be receiving your 4K content. Netflix, Amazon and Ultraflix all have pretty great 4K libraries, so for the time being I would make sure your TV comes with built in access to these services.
While that old saying of “you get what you pay for” is often true, you are purchasing a technology here that is rapidly evolving. In this situation you don’t want to completely cheap out, but you also need to keep in mind that you are most likely going to be purchasing a newer and better version of this technology in the next few years. Go with a set whose price you are comfortable with, trust me you will thank me later.