First Click: Don’t buy that new 4K TV

September 2nd, 2015


The big European tech show known as IFA kicks off today and with it comes a deluge of new TVs. All will boast 4K resolutions while a few will support HDR.

Just don’t buy one. Not yet.

First of all, you’re unlikely to benefit from that 4K boost in resolution unless you’re sitting very close to the TV. How close? Bring on the Carlton Bale chart!

As you can see from the oft-cited image above, you’ll have to sit about 3 feet or closer from your 55-inch 4K TV to notice any improvement over 1080p. And 4K content is still very limited. Buying a 4K monitor to prop in front of your keyboard and Wacom is a no-brainer if you can afford it, but buying a big 4K TV is just dumb for the average 10 foot living room.

There is, however, one very good reason to eventually buy a 4K TV: HDR. High Dynamic Range is the same technology you already use on your smartphone to restore clouds in photos with otherwise blown-out skies. Now it’s coming to televisions, but only at the very top end (you won’t find it on Vizio’s $850 55-inch 4K set, for example.)

HDR is legitimately desirable television tech. It’s brighter, more colorful, and offers more realistic contrast than anything you’ve seen before. You’ll definitely want it. Trouble is, if you buy one of those HDR-ready Sonys already on sale today for $4,000 (and up) you won’t able to find any HDR video to feed it.

Amazon began streaming a single title in HDR back in June with Netflix scheduled to offer its own limited selections any day now. Ultra HD Blu-ray media and the HDR players that support it should arrive before the year is done. As a result, HDR titles will be extremely limited for many, many months if not years.

Look, we all want to buy electronics that are "future proof" — especially TVs that we’ll keep for a decade or more. But now is not the time to do that. CNETWired, and the Wall Street Journal all agree.

4K is inevitable. By 2016 it’ll dominate purchasing options above 50 inches. But your next TV decision shouldn’t be about more pixels — it should be about better pixels.

Wait for HDR, it’ll be worth it.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Windows 10 and Skylake processors were ‘designed together’

    Today at IFA, the American chipmaker is unfurling the full breadth of its Skylake range, which will span the broadest spectrum of devices in the company’s history. Intel will have Skylake processors going from a 4.5W TDP designed for ultrathin, fanless machines all the way up to 91W for workstation and enthusiast gaming purposes.

  2. Lenovo has created a Microsoft Surface clone

    Lenovo calls its new ideapad Miix 700 "recognizably different" with a "progressive design," but it's hard to see it as anything but a Microsoft Surface clone. Designed with Windows 10 in mind, the Miix 700 is a 12-inch tablet with an adjustable kickstand at the rear. That all sounds similar to Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, and if you look at the Miix 700 then you'll see the similarities aren't minor.

  3. Acer's coolest new PC lets you build a computer like Lego bricks

    Building your own computer is starting to come back in style thanks to initiatives like Phonebloks and Google's Project Ara, and now Acer is bringing that idea to the desktop. It's introducing a new PC today called the Revo Build Series, which starts as a small core block and can then be built upon by adding new bricks on top of it. Imagine having a vertical tower of Lego pieces, only with every piece you add, the tower gains a new ability.

  4. Sony changed Concussion to avoid legal problems with the NFL

    Some "unflattering moments for the NFL" were deleted or altered, according to an email sent last August, and one of Sony's top lawyers took "most of the bite" out of the movie "for legal reasons with the NFL." Other emails detail discussions of how to market the film; press materials should mention Smith's personal affinity for football, executives suggested.

  5. This router will be the last thing you see before the internet consumes you

    If you were wondering how Asus would respond to the challenge of Google's OnHub wireless router, wonder no longer. Forged in an off-world colony and teleported here by its own sheer power of will, the artfully titled RT-AC5300U is a wireless portal like no other. It takes the spaceship looks of D-Link's Ultra router and ratchets them up to 11.

Bug of the day

Loading comments...