Over the past several years, consumers have weaned themselves from the old-fashioned picture tube television sets, choosing to migrate to the higher resolution high-definition digital flat screen models now sold in virtually every consumer products store. Now however, comes word that we are in store for yet another leap in quality. So-called 4K, or Ultra-Definition (UD) screens are just over the horizon and they represent a new standard in crystal clear television viewing.
First up, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that LG Technologies will be showcasing its new 86 inch UD television at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Attendees will see both a really big screen, and the new 4K standard, and LG is promising that it will knock people flat.
To put the new technology in context, current HDTV comes with 1080 horizontal pixels, or little dots, that together make up the entire picture. The new 4K will have 4000 of them, hence the name, though it is a bit of a misnomer, because it will really be 3840, at least in the demo model. Still, that means almost four times as many pixels, which should mean imagery that will knock our socks off. Imagine that many pixels in a smaller, more reasonably priced set.
4K technology isn’t brand new of course, according to Wired magazine, several high end video cameras and projectors have been using the standard for a couple of years, but because of the price tag, are used mostly by big studios that can afford to drop tens of thousands of dollars on such equipment. The magazine also notes that this new standard, combined with ever larger screen sizes will likely spell doom for movie theaters over the next five years or so.
On the other hand, a self-professed online magazine for professionals in the film industry, Creative Cow, says we should all just calm down a little bit because the people that come up with names for video technology have cheated a little bit with the new UD standard. They claim that the resolution won’t be nearly as much higher because of a trick of semantics, and it revolves around the use of the word “pixel.”
In the old television world, a pixel was a single dot on a CRT that lit up when shot with an electron gun. Digital televisions actually use three dots (one each for Red, Green and Blue) to make up one pixel, which the industry has decided to collectively call one pixel. This means that a television maker can choose to call the triplets a single pixel, or count them as three, which Creative Cow says, means technology companies such as LG Technologies can claim their TVs have three times as many pixels as do others, despite the fact that this is not the actual case.
Regardless, the proof will be in the viewing as the CES show will kick off next month. If the new standard is as mind blowing as LG claims, we will all no doubt hear about it. If not, we’ll just have to wait a few more years.