For someone who is new to the whole concept of a 4K TV, monitor, or laptop sporting a vibrant 4K display, there are some complicated details that you need to get your head around to make a smart buying decision. Doing so will help you spend your money in a sensible way on a 4K display that will do everyone you want it to – and more.
Here are five things to think about before you upgrade to 4K visuals.
Bit depth sounds complicated, but it’s actually not. Without getting too technical, modern TVs (and other displays) usually come with an 8-bit, 10-bit or 12-bit depth. Put simply, a higher bit depth enables a 4K display to show more shades of color.
Therefore, when the original media being shown has a 12-bit recorded color depth, 12-bit depth TVs can show the exact same shades of color throughout the image; an 8-bit or 10-bit depth TV cannot. With 8-bit visuals, there are 16,777,216 color choices and with 10-bit and 12-bit there’s even more.
The contrast ratio is all about the brightness level (indicated as cd/m2 in the specifications). With TVs and other displays that can show extremely bright visuals and also go extremely dim, it’s possible for whites to be very bright and black colors to be totally dark on the screen. The contrast ratio indicates the range between the highest and the lowest brightness levels. A range in the hundreds of thousands or millions to one is best here.
The UHD Premium badge on the TV indicates that that the 4K HD TV meets this new standard. The standard confirms that the product has a true 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, supports a 10-bit color depth at a minimum, has a brightness level that goes down to a minimal level for true blacks to show through, a wide color range to 90% of the P3 color gamut, and it has high-dynamic range enabled by default.
High dynamic range (HDR) indicates a wider color range that isn’t the same with every TV or monitor. There are multiple standards for HDR like Dolby Vision and HDR10. The Dolby version comes from a chip that is added to the TV, so it isn’t an upgrade you can apply at a later date either.
Currently, both Netflix and Amazon stream 4K HD using both Dolby Vision and HDR10; Sony Ultra only streams in HDR10. Some TVs offer both HDR standards in a single product, which is the ideal option to avoid getting stuck wanting to use a streaming service later and not being able to.
When you don’t want to carry around a USB hard disk drive, then a large-capacity memory card to store your favorite TV shows and movies is a good option. They’re smaller than other storage options, so a card slides easily into your wallet or purse when it’s not in use. Owning a few of them isn’t a problem either because they take up very little space and weigh almost nothing. Obviously, there are a range of different options when it comes to memory cards, and so finding a buying guide such as the one provided by Best Buy is a good idea for customers who don’t know what to look for.
Getting the right 4K TV or display is important because you hope that your upgraded visual experience will last you at least 5-10 years. Pay attention to the 4K product specifications to ensure you can stream from whatever service you like and don’t have to worry about service provider restrictions later.