The Problem With 4K

The Problem With 4K

When Sony announced its gargantuan
84-inch 4K TV at IFA 2012, I was impressed, but not blown away. Then I sat down in front of it, and I had a resolutiongasm. The clarity of the image is incredible, and as Angus over at Lifehacker points out, it’s enough to make someone who doesn’t normally mind about resolution issues the most passionate pixel peeker in history. With so much going for it, you’d think it’d be a slam dunk for Sony, right? Not quite.

There’s no question that the 4K unit itself is incredible. When you sit down in front of it, your mind is overwhelmed by the quality you’re seeing. It can’t be real. It has to be some sort of gimmick, right? Nope. What you’re seeing is poetry in motion.

Because of the high-quality of native 4K content on Sony’s 4K TV, your brain is tricked into thinking the image has depth from a huge viewing angle.

And on top of all this bite-the-back-of-your-hand gorgeous imagery, you’re presented with the side-mounted speakers that aren’t just crappy tack-ons. Oh no. These produce amazing sound for bundled speakers.

So what’s wrong with the Sony 4K TV?

Well, nothing really. The problem is the lack of content.

Right now the amount of 4K content on the market for home consumption is laughable, and some execs — like the boffins at HBO — are questioning the value that they’ll get out of 4K. After all, why would release content that they won’t make a return on?

To support 4K, content creators will likely have to spend a pretty penny updating a lot of their gear, and even then they’ll only be putting it out for a fraction of the market who can afford $US25,000 television sets.

So there’s not a whole lot of passive viewing content, but what about interactive? Well right now there aren’t even that many games that run on the Playstation 3’s 1080p resolution, so the idea of 4K content from developers isn’t one that’s just around the corner.

The most promising piece of interactive content designed for 4K that we’ve seen came out very recently from Toshiba who showed off a game running on a 4K-capable graphics card (the AMD 7970). It’s gorgeous, but still, that’s only one game and one demonstration in one corner of one trade show floor. It’s not about to set the market alight.

We can take solace in the fact that when high-resolution Blu-ray players were released to the market, their content offering was just as slim, and now it’s one of the dominant distribution mediums for high-quality content.

Let’s just hope 4K goes the same way before manufacturers abandon this beautiful high-resolution future.