Why 4K movies just aren’t worth it
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
You may have seen them advertised at Best Buy or London Drugs: giant TVs now in “4K digital resolution!” These TVs promise to deliver a custom entertainment experience with sharper and clearer sound and picture than ever before. Of course, the full experience also requires a 4K Blu-ray player and individual 4K movies to play on the thing. Gone are the days when movie watching at home simply involved putting in a DVD—or so the folks marketing 4K media would have you believe.
4K refers to a display of video with pixels of approximately 4096 x 1260. The previous highest definition possible, 1080p—the quality of Blu-ray or HD content—is about 1920 x 1080. For comparison, a standard DVD (or non-HD Netflix stream) has picture dimensions of 720 x 480. Certainly, a noticeable difference can be found between Blu-ray and DVD quality. The image can be seen by the average person as being sharper and more colourful, with the sound being clearer and more pronounced.
Any movie viewing experience is largely dependent on the size of one’s TV. Watching Inside Out on a 60” TV with surround-sound speakers and a subwoofer will noticeably pronounce the differences between HD and standard definition. Watching it on a 32” TV with no additional speakers won’t have the same effect. But now 4K, still a relatively new technology, has entered the mix.
One can’t just upgrade to 4K streaming on their regular HD TV. One must purchase a fancy 4K TV—which currently costs about twice as much as a regular TV. The cheapest one available at Best Buy is 43” and $599. In comparison, a regular 43” HD TV goes for between $299–399. However, anyone who’s truly looking for a home theatre experience will require a much bigger TV, because the differences between DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K quality don’t become very noticeable until the large scale range. Of course, a bigger 55” 4K TV will set you back $1299, compared to a standard 55” at around $790.
That’s not even getting into the cost of actually purchasing content. Streaming services such as Netflix are beginning to offer some 4K content, and upscaling (changing picture quality for the TV) means Best Buy can claim you can play most content “in near 4K quality.” If you’d like to purchase new release movies on 4K Blu-ray, they start at $25 and can go up to $40. And a normal Blu-ray player (or gaming console) won’t play them—you’ll need a 4K player, which costs at least $199.
The differences in picture quality aren’t noticeable to the average viewer, and even media enthusiasts won’t notice a significant difference on anything less than a 60” screen. 4K technology is still quite new, expensive, and predatory on consumers. If you want a good home media setup, use the extra $500 you would have spent on a 4K TV to buy speakers, a gaming system, or simply a much larger standard HD TV. It’s just not worth it.