Bits & Bytes: No one needs super-high-def 4K TVs
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 27, 2013
1/27/13 at 4:13 AM
If a company showed off anything resembling a TV at the Consumer Electronics Show, chances are they were bragging about 4K.
With a name that silly, it's easy to be confused. 4K, or ultra-high-definition, refers to TVs that are more high-definition than high-definition.
They have more than 4,000 pixels per horizontal row, compared to the 1,080 pixels in 1080p.
And let me tell you - when I pressed my face to the glass of an 85-inch 4K TV at CES, it looked fantastic. The picture was gorgeous and absolutely real-looking.
But most of us don't watch TVs on huge screens with our face pressed to the glass. When I saw smaller 4K sets at a more normal distance, I had trouble distinguishing that from normal high-definition.
The rule of thumb is that normal humans can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 HDTVs that are 32 inches or below. It might take a size of 50 or 60 inches before you can really get the benefit out of 4K sets, which can cost upwards of $25,000.
There's also the little detail that little 4K content is out there. Nothing is broadcast, and so far only 10 movies have been formatted into 4K.
Why the push into an expensive new format with questionable benefit? Because the TV manufacturers are desperate to re-create the HDTV boom.
Back in the days of tube TVs, people generally held onto them until they broke. The arrival of great-looking, big and flat HDTVs changed that, as customers had a very strong reason to upgrade ahead of schedule. TV sales boomed.
A few years later people who were willing to replace their regular TVs for an HD upgrade had already done so, and sales dropped back to normal.
This is why we've been bombarded with questionable new features on new TVs lately, like 3-D, smart-TV features and now 4K.
Not because the companies are trying to keep televisions fresh, but because the TV manufacturers are desperate to recapture the sales magic during the HDTV boom. "Normal" sales aren't good enough for them.
4K may become the next big thing - when the average TV set is 65 inches big and sells for $1,000 apiece and the various cable providers have switched all their channels to the new format.
So feel free to continue ignoring 4K for the next decade or so unless you've got money to burn.
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Original Print Headline: No one needs super-high-def 4K TVs
Atari in bankruptcy isn’t the Atari you’re looking for
You may have heard that Atari filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Although that may have fired bits of nostalgia for the company's Atari 2600 and its games, keep in mind that this Atari has nothing to do with the company you remember.
Warner Communications owned Atari from 1976 on, but when the video game crash hit, the company sold off the arcade and home console divisions separately in 1984. The arcade division soldiered on its own for a time but was repurchased by Warner, sold to Midway Games and then repurchased again by Warner after Midway collapsed in 2003.
As for the home division, it was sold to Jack Tramiel, maker of the Commodore 64, who proceeded to release new hardware no one bought. Hasbro bought up the rights when Tramiel gave up in 1998, and French company Infogrames acquired it in 2001, eventually renaming the entire company "Atari" yet managing to do next to nothing new with the brand.
It's this company that's filed for bankruptcy. Because there's still money to be made off of nostalgia for Atari, it's almost guaranteed yet another company will scoop up the rights.
Industry affiliates photograph Panasonic's 4K OLED large-screen television at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The TVs have more than 4,000 pixels per horizontal row. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press