CES 2016 Debuts New 4K HDR Options

This week, the world’s largest electronics companies debuted a new set of 4K TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Although SONY, Samsung, and Panasonic showcased some of their most cutting-edge digital technologies at the show, tech junkies are urging potential buyers to think twice before purchasing a new 4K TV.

The majority of today’s TVs broadcast in 1080p. 4K, or Ultra HD, is a higher resolution than than 1080p. (Read more about 4K here.) Although 4K TVs are technologically advanced, they’re still fairly new after having hit the market just three years ago. So, the TVs are still expensive, ranging from $1,000 to ten times that.

If you buy a 4K television, you’ll technically have the ability to view footage in stunning UHD quality, but you might find that there is an absence of footage to actually view. Even if you purchase a brand new TV, you’ll still be watching most of your shows in 1080p. Unfortunately, the market has yet to catch up with the technology. There’s not a very large library of content available to be viewed in 4K.

You can view some of Netflix’s shows in 4K –  25, to be exact. Amazon, on the other hand, has a large selection of titles. But most of Amazon’s 4K options are older movies that you might not be interested in watching again, the New York Times noted.

Some critics are wondering if the quality if really worth the money, anyway. Critics who compared 4K content with the 1080p could hardly note a difference.

The most-talked-about 4K feature at CES is a color technology called high dynamic range, or HDR, SONY showcased their new 4K HDR TV at the event.

Check out the technology below:

HDR shows are the most compelling when watched on a 4K TV, the Times’ Brian Chen explained in the aforementioned article. But not all shows shot in 4K even have the added HDR component.

Even if 4K TV owners have access to a selection of UHD shows on Netflix and Amazon, they won’t be able to view 4K programs on traditional TV networks. Comcast, for instance, launched a 4K streaming app back in 2014, but the app’s library is limited, too.

Part of the reason that the 4K market seems to be falling short, is that producing content in 4K is expensive. Another issue? Viewers in the US don’t have access to the ultra-fast internet speeds that are necessary to stream content in 4K without compressing it.

Broadband is just not sophisticated enough to air content in 4K. Because broadband and 4K are so incompatible, online streaming services like Netflix have been forced to compress their 4K content to 15Mbps, Forbes reported.  If the content were not compressed, Internet servers would buckle with millions of users attempting to stream 4K.

In the last few years, the amount of shows that are being produced in 4K has risen, albeit slightly. That’s why experts suggest that if you’re considering buying one of the new TVs that technology companies promoted this week, it’s probably better to hold off until TV prices drop. Hopefully that will coincide with an increase in viewable UHD content.

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