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Micro: What is ‘4k’ or ‘Ultra HD’ TV?

Omar L. Gallaga
ogallaga@statesman.com
Attendees look at the Sony Corp. Bravia 4K liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions in the company’s booth during the CEATEC Japan 2012 exhibition in Chiba, Japan, on Oct. 2. So-called “Ultra High-Definition” TV sets will offer a resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 lines, much higher than current HDTV sets.

You might want to sit down (and avoid looking at your HDTV directly) before we tell you this. There’s already a higher-resolution successor to high-definition TV on the way. It’s been known in the industry as “4K,” and the Consumer Electronics Association recently announced that it will be calling the standard “Ultra High-Definition” or “Ultra HD” for short. Some companies say they plan to continue calling it “4K” or using some combination of the names in their marketing.

What’s different? The new displays, video cameras and other products will have a resolution of 3,840 lines horizontally and 2,160 lines vertically vs. the current 1080p resolution of 1,920 lines by 1080. That means images will be even clearer and sharper (sorry, newscasters and makeup professionals) and that we’re due for a wave of new hardware upgrades sometime in the future.

But fear not, at least right now. The TV sets that are starting to hit the market from companies like Sony with this feature are in the $30,000 range, and you’re not going to see a lot of mainstream programming available at that resolution for a while to come. It’s on the way, but moving slowly, and there’s no guarantee it’ll take off even when prices drop to sea level.

So, for the time being, enjoy your HDTV and relax.