Tom Robertson takes a look at the world of super TVs and the new visual standard becoming mainstream in 2014
What is 4K?
‘4K’ displays have a resolution four times that of current full High Definition (HD) sets, meaning they have an incredibly detailed resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
First touted by manufacturers in 2012 and sold in 2013, 2014 is predicted to be the year in which the technology enters more and more of our living rooms as sets become more affordable.
In order to get the best picture from your 4K TV, you’ll need 4K content. Sony, Netflix and YouTube are all set to release online content later this year. Sony has also announced 4K movies remastered for Blu-ray.
Wimbledon has already been shot in 4K and this year the World Cup will be shot in 4K resolution for the first time ever.
Also known as Ultra High Definition TV (UHDTV) and Ultra HD (UHD).
Glow with pride
The USP of this substantial set is something consumers have already come to know and, to some extent, love: Ambilight. LED lights on the back of the Philips 65PFL9708 change colour and cast soft hues that match those on screen onto the surrounding walls. It’s a distraction from the solid performance of the TV itself but one that consumers will either love or hate. RO2855 from Amazon.com
Bang for your Buck
For those willing to forego the more consumer desirable brands such as Sony or Samsung, LG have asserted themselves in recent years as a company with whom a constrained budget can go a long way. But the 55-inch version of the LG A9700 still comes with all the bells and whistles; turn on your TV with the wave of a hand or use your voice to change channel and the volume. There’s also four pairs of glasses supplied for 3D viewing and, for the eco-conscious among us, it was awarded the 2014 award for energy efficiency. RO1732 from LG.com
Small can be beautiful. In the form of the P2815Q, Dell delivers on their promise made earlier this year to deliver a cost effective 4K monitor. For those who don’t want to have to sit in front of a 65-inch behemoth, the Dell is an ideal solution for small-room viewing or graphical designers for whom detail matters. RO269 from dell.com
Editor’s Pick: The 2014 X9 series of TVs
Sony has been one of the pioneers since the very start of the 4K revolution. But painfully aware that the actual 4K content for these TVs is still in the early stages , the X Reality Pro technology featured in the 2014 X9 series of TVs takes your photos, movies and online content and upgrades it to near 4K quality.
They’ve also placed an emphasis on high quality sound, having squeezed in six magnetic fluid speakers into the chassis that reduce sound distortion by 60 per cent.
At a time when most manufacturers are concentrating on other aspects of TVs, such as online integration, Sony has focused on the basics. And boy, are they done well. Price TBC, Pre-register interest at Sony.com
Smart and Stylish
Definitely one of the more affordable 4K TVs on the market, the Samsung F9000 oozes style with its slim form and minimalist metal bezel slinking round the screen. It’s not all looks though: it’s both beautiful and intelligent, able to analyse your viewing habits and then make suggestions of other similar shows to watch. You can also control the F9000 using your Samsung Galaxy smartphone or tablet. RO1903 Samsung.com
The Girly Gadget
If the idea of seeing a life-size George Clooney or Hugh Jackman in your living room appeals, then perhaps Sony’s 85 inch whopper could be the right choice for you. (Of course, you could get away with a smaller screen for Tom Cruise.)
And with the X9000’s 4K resolution, you’ll be able to pick out every detail of your favourite actor. You’ll have to pay for the priviledge though! RO10,599.900 from Sony.com
App of the week: Nevo app
You’ll be needing a suitably modern remote for your new TV. One For All’s Nevo app will partner with a Wi-Fi bridge to send infrared commands to all your home video and audio equipment. With over 300,000 devices supported, you’ll never have to get off the couch again. App free from iOS and Android stores. (Wi-Fi Bridge separate.)
NEW! AX880 series
Panasonic’s recent announcement that the company would cease to manufacture its much loved line of Plasma TVs this March sent fans into a panic. But worry not. They’ve just unveiled some high-end 4K viewing in the form of the AX880 series, the new pièce de la résistance in Panasonic’s TV line up. Release date and price TBC.
- Comes in two sizes, the 58-inch TX-58AX800 and the 65-inch TX-65AX800. An 85-inch model will be released later in the year.
- The TV will handle all 4K content, as well as taking standard content and upscaling it to near 4K resolution quality.
- Features ‘Life+ Screen’, which learns individual and family viewing preferences in order to suggest alternative, but related, content for the viewer.