Is It Worth Buying a 4K TV Now? Pros and Cons of Moving to Ultra HD

Ultra HD / 4K TVs have been on the precipice of becoming the common standard for quite some time now, yet due to high price points and a small (but growing) selection of technology that actually utilizes the resolution, they’re still not as prevalent as 1080p screens. However, it’s an inevitability that in the future they will eventually replace our current TVs and move us into a brighter, crisper era of entertainment, so 

We recently outlined the pros and cons of curved screen TVs and whether or not you should invest in one, but now it’s time to assess if you should be looking to improve your home entertainment system with the introduction of a 4K TV. Take a look at our pros and cons of making the leap to 4K below:


Pro: Ultra HD is beautiful

By now you will have likely experienced 4K, if not in someone else’s home then presumably at the movies, where 4K projectors have been established as the standard for digital projectors. While Ultra HD technically isn’t the same as 4K, which features a 4096×2160 resolution that isn’t employed by most TVs, the two have become synonymous with one another by way of many TV manufacturers advertising their products as being both Ultra HD and 4K capable. Regardless of this slight discrepancy, images outputted in both resolutions are crisp, clear and a considerable improvement over Full HD screens.

If you’re questioning just how big the gap is between the resolution of your 1080p TV and an Ultra HD model, then first consider the difference between the pixel configurations of a 720p and a 1080p TV. In the former, pixels are arranged in a 1280×720 configuration, while the latter measures in at 1920×1080. Compare this with UHD, which comes in at 3,840 x 2,160, and you’ll see the seismic improvement offered by the resolution. 


Con: Lack of devices supporting it

This has been a key issue facing Ultra HD from the get go, with there still being a lack of 4K content for UHD owners to get their hands on. Fortunately, that’s steadily changing, with Netflix offering 4K streaming options in exchange for a slight increase in users’ subscription fees, along with Amazon Prime, Sony Ultra, M-GO and many YouTube videos.

There still isn’t a wide selection of 4K viewing options available, though, and for some this may prove to be a deal-breaker when it comes to splashing out on the tech. Even 4K Blu-ray players are expensive, ranging from $300 – $400 for models that display the discs in their native resolution. There are some cheaper models that simply upscale the resolution of Blu-rays to give them the appearance of being displayed in a higher resolution, but if you want your films and TV shows to be displayed in true Ultra HD, then it’ll set you back a pretty penny.


Pro: Gaming in 4K

The main selling point on 4K’s horizon will be the introduction of Microsoft and Sony’s respective 4K consoles. At this year’s E3 2016 expo, Microsoft announced that it will be releasing two upgrades to its Xbox One console – the Xbox One S and the tentatively titled Xbox One Scorpio – that will both offer gaming at a 4K resolution and the ability to display Blu-rays in 4K, too. This is major news for 4K TV, with it finally providing a major reason for people to make the jump to 4K outside of improving their Netflix viewing experience.

Sony is also set to follow suit, with their unannounced PlayStation Neo console also set to be 4K-ready and likely support 4K Blu-rays, too. Those who remember the PS3’s demonstrable impact upon the Blu-ray market, with it providing a cheaper solution to the ludicrously expensively Blu-ray players at the time, will agree that the PS4’s move into 4K will inevitably shift a whole bunch of UHD TVs as consumers will finally have reasonably priced (we hope) hardware that will allow them to experience the resolution.


Con: It’s still comparatively expensive

An Ultra HD TV is a more expensive option than a 1080p or 720p TV. That’s a given. Those who purchase one right now will have to contend with the fact that their new TV will have reduced in price by 6 months or so, and by then there will be even more 4K viewing options available to the new buyer. 

With that being said, it’s likely more advantageous to hold out for a few months, perhaps until the launch of the Xbox One S that will afford you the opportunity to both experience 4K gaming and purchase a relatively inexpensive 4K Blu-ray player. Though there are devices and services that support 4K right now, considering the price you’ll pay for a new TV, you may be better off holding off for a little while longer. 


Pro: Even without 4K support, UHD TVs look good anyway

If you simply cannot wait to purchase a 4K TV, then you’ll be pleased to hear that even if you lack the devices to output in native 4K, you’ll still enjoy a nice picture quality. 4K TVs upscale to display lower resolutions on their screens with more pixels, meaning that when you’re viewing 1080p content on an Ultra HD TV, the TV effectively raises the pixel count of the image. The intention here isn’t to improve the quality of the picture, though this is commonly a result of the upscaling process. However, the picture quality isn’t improved enough for it to be considered a major impact on the picture quality of 1080p content, but the extra bells and whistles that typically feature on a 4K TV do tend to improve Full HD images.

If you haven’t got access to any 4K devices that will allow you to display a native 4K resolution on the device, then it would clearly be a misuse of your money to invest in a 4K TV. However, if your concern is that image quality may noticeably depreciate on your TV when not viewing images in an Ultra HD quality, then rest assured that TVs which adopt the format are fully capable of making Full HD content look good, too.