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Every year, around TV-buying time, whether those are for the best outdoor TVs or for indoor (notably around the holidays and early new year), people start asking themselves, “Is it finally time to upgrade to the best 4k TV? Or should I just stick with my 1080p TV and save money?” Before deciding on a purchase, you should learn what a 4k tv is so you can see if they are worth it for you.
4K TVs offer degrees of performance and color accuracy that no other TV can match, producing vibrant colors and excellent sharpness. If you want your movies and shows to look their best, 4K is the way to go.
For the past several years, the answer to upgrading to the massively improved resolution has been, “Maybe buy a 4k TV, or maybe wait and see.” Take a look at our review of the 6 utterly unnecessary features on the Bang & Olufsen Avant that make it so costly.
These days, however, the answer is moving more firmly toward a yes. 4K TVs, with their incredible higher resolution, are now incredibly common and very affordable, especially if you count in sales. That’s been true for a while, but now content is finally catching up as well.
Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and others are excellent choices for 4K content. Additionally, Amazon Fire TV now supports 4K streaming, giving you access to an even larger library of content in a higher resolution. All this adds up to a theater experience right in your living room that’s both affordable and incredibly easy to set up.
Let’s break it down by content type so you can get a better idea if a 4k TV is right for your entertainment, or if 1080p TVs are fine for now. If you are getting a very large screen like the ones in our top 80-inch TV guide, you should go for 4K, at least until 8K is more mainstream and not as expensive.
Reminder: You need 4k televisions, 4k content (including 4k gaming), and a device capable of handling 4k, along with newer cables that are 4k compatible. They all have to deal with more data, so make sure you are prepared to make the full upgrade.
Also, remember that viewing distance is important for 4k: The closer you are, the more you will be able to tell the difference. Additionally, if you are wanting a tv to have watch parties outside, you should know that there are special TVs designed for being used outdoors. If you would like something, you can check out this SunBrite review.
Like to download your movies onto a hard drive? Good news!
Basically, all new movies, and many updated old movies, are available in 4k. These tend to cost around $5 to $10 more than the non-4k versions, so there’s a small price increase, but content availability is no longer a problem here.
Most devices have been updated for 4k as well, although if you have an old device to play movies through, you may have to upgrade the firmware or replace it. More modern TVs have 4K HDR, that’s very good at knowing what treatment content needs.
The only big issue here is storage space: 4k movies can take up a lot of room, so having a dedicated storage drive is a really good idea.
Games have been slower to adopt 4k than movies. Most indie games still don’t have that option and don’t need it.
However, if you play primarily AAA titles, then the time to switch to a 4K TV has arrived. Not only can modern gaming consoles, like the PS4 Pro, handle 4k, but most new triple-A titles offer 4k compatibility for an all-new resolution experience. This applies to plenty of remasters, too. If this sounds like the kind of tv you want, you check out the Vizio V series for a great tv with a high refresh rate to help with games.
Note: Computer displays don’t really enter into this, because they tend to have different resolutions from a true 4k image (different numbers of pixels for the aspect ratio). It’s best to look at computer consoles on a case-by-case basis.
Where do you get your living room sports channels from? Cable, over-air broadcasts, satellite, and online streaming are all popular options.
Check your particular package and settings to see what content is 4k video. Satellite is the most likely to offer 4k UHD, but it usually depends on your package. Cable is a bit more hit or miss, but it’s becoming more common. 4k is typically offered only for specific channels or events, so check your plan!
Over-the-air broadcasts are great, but the protocol for 4k broadcasts is quite new, so it will take some time for your antenna to pick up 4k signals. This just isn’t an option right now.
Ultimately, if you get a significant number of sports channels in 4k, this is a good reason to upgrade to a new TV and enjoy the action in greater clarity. So if you are a sports lover, read more about the LG OLED55C7P for a tv that has excellent picture quality, so all your favorite sports look their best.
Many streaming TV shows are offered in 4k these days, but you typically have to pay more for the streaming 4k subscription. This will also take up a lot of data on your internet plan, which may be a problem if your data cap is already close to the amount used each month.
If these concerns aren’t an issue, then you can enjoy the latest shows in 4k on most streaming services, which are typically supported natively as smart tv features, even without a device. Hulu is a big exception: Hulu has unexpectedly dropped all its 4k compatibility, and there’s no sign of when it might return.
Get a Blu-ray player that can support a 4k screen and buy 4k discs, then you should be set! All new movies are available in 4k options, so finding them shouldn’t be an issue. Your old catalog of hard-copy movies, however, won’t benefit very much from the upgrade.
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