(BPT) - By this time every year, TV manufacturers have released their new lineups - complete with the newfangled technologies and new looks. After months of seeing prototypes and concepts, now is the time when TV lovers can get their hands on these models and show them off in their living rooms.
The hot TVs this year are called Ultra HD, or 4K. If you haven't heard of them yet, you will soon. People are so excited about them for one simple reason: picture quality. These TVs have 8 million pixels vs. the 2 million in Full HD TVs. Just like with a digital camera, more pixels means more detail and greater clarity. Remember the first time you watched a movie or sporting event on an HDTV? It's that, but times four.
A little fear of the unknown is to be expected but Ultra HD is worth taking the time to wrap your head around, especially if you're in the market for a new living room centerpiece. Here are some facts to clear up common misconceptions around 4K TVs:
Claim: No one is making movies or TV series in 4K.
Reality: Fiction. Netflix has already produced and released its hit series House of Cards in 4K and recently announced it will carry Breaking Bad as well. Most motion picture films are actually being shot in 4K now and there will be new content available through streaming services, such as Netflix, MGO and Amazon Instant Video this year.
Claim: Ultra HD/4K TVs are so new there is no way to play 4K content.
Reality: Fiction. Most Ultra HD TVs incorporate new technology standards - such as HDMI 2.0 and H.265 codec - that allow them to display real 4K content whether it's streamed over the Internet via smart TVs, like LG's TVs with webOS, or playing from a USB or HDMI source. With these technologies built into the TV, people have a product that will last into the future.
Claim: It takes faster Internet speed (more bandwidth) to stream 4K movies than regular HD movies.
Reality: Fact, but not that much faster. The added detail in 4K pictures and videos equates to more information - think of it as a bigger file - for the TV to process. It takes slightly faster Internet to show the file at top quality, but it still falls within the speeds available through most providers.
Claim: My cable or satellite box cannot play 4K content.
Reality: Fact. Right now cable and satellite boxes cannot play 4K content; however, some Ultra HD TVs can upscale to near 4K quality. Translation - you can still enjoy better picture quality right now. As noted above, some Ultra HD Smart TVs can stream 'native' 4K already.
Claim: Ultra HD TVs are way more expensive than 1080p TVs.
Reality: Fiction. While Ultra HD TVs are considered 'premium' models, many are available at prices comparable to 1080p TVs in recent years. Check out the more than dozen models LG Electronics will have this year at a variety of prices.
Claim: You don't need an Ultra HD TV if you have a smaller TV.
Reality: Fact-ish. Before, the general rule was the bigger the screen, the further away you have to sit to enjoy non-grainy picture. Not with Ultra HD. If you want a more standard size (e.g., 47- to 55-inches) in a small space, an Ultra HD TV is an ideal solution because you can sit closer to the TV and still get good picture quality. For anything between roughly 20- and 42-inches, it will be hard to tell the difference in extra detail.
Claim: Ultra HD 4K TVs have poor off-angle picture quality.
Reality: Fiction. Most Ultra HD TVs have larger screen sizes, which means your eyes are automatically at a wider angle from the edge of the screen compared to smaller TVs. Ultra HD TV with IPS panels, like LG's lineup, are designed to ensure good off angle picture quality.
The first time you see an Ultra HD TV in person, you'll understand why the demand and excitement have been so great for this latest in TV technology. Who knows, you might end up with the best TV in town.