Mid-Week Poll: Are You Holding Out for 4k?

With the failure of 3D, the consumer electronics industry and Hollywood studios are eager to push 4k Ultra High Definition (UHD) as the next great technological breakthrough that home theater fans just can’t live without. After months of speculation about whether UHD would be best delivered by disc or by streaming, the Blu-ray Disc Association has confirmed that it’s currently looking into adding a UHD extension to the Blu-ray spec. With that in mind, how eager are you to upgrade your home theater to 4k? Have you stopped buying regular Blu-ray discs in anticipation, or have you already written off the UHD format as irrelevant to your needs?

I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I always (at least in theory, to the best of my ability to afford) strive for the best and want to have the latest and greatest equipment in my home theater. I was an early adopter to both the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats when they debuted in 2006, and I’m very curious to see what kind of improvement 4k could offer me. I find most of my old DVD collection unwatchable on my projection screen, and have done my best to purge most of those discs for Blu-ray upgrades. I kind of regret how much money I wasted on DVD back in the day, and I’d hate to keep buying Blu-ray now if I’m likely to feel that way about it too in the future.

On the other hand, 1080p has established itself as a very nice sweet spot for most home theater needs, even on projection screens like mine. Except on the very largest of screens, 4k may not provide much discernable difference. (But didn’t some people say that about Blu-ray back in the day?) Many of today’s movies that are either photographed digitally or use a Digital Intermediate are permanently locked to 2k resolution and will never benefit from 4k.

Perhaps most problematic, upgrading a home theater to UHD will require a complete top-to-bottom overhaul at every part of the signal chain, from disc player source to display, including every single intermediary device (switchers, splitters, video processors, A/V receiver, etc.) and HDMI cable in between. That just won’t be practical or affordable for me to achieve anytime soon.

I suppose I have to take a wait-and-see approach to this. I’m open to the idea of UHD, but I haven’t stopped buying Blu-rays yet. How about you?

Are You Still Buying Blu-rays, or Holding Out for 4k?

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  1. It pains me to see the consumer public in general act like cows being led to slaughter. “OOOOH 4k is the next greatest thing…buy it! YOU need it! And can’t live without it!” It’s the same sad story over and over again. I will not buy into 4k. I refuse to re-buy my entire movie collection (2000+ discs) AGAIN and AGAIN. Blu-ray will be the end for me, 4k just doesn’t impress me much, even after seeing it in person on a 125″ screen. Looks like my setup at home just a little bit clearer. If you look at the new “Mastered In 4K” blu-rays you can plainly see they are a $ grab and just a gimmick. 3-D has failed. Miserably. And now the industry is looking for a new slaughter house to lead the masses into and they may have found it with UHD. I personally will not fall for it again.

  2. MadManMatt

    Waiting right now for a large (65″+) 3D Plasma to be in my price range. If 4K 3D is cheap enough, then I’ll consider it. Switching from DVD to Bluray, only certain titles were upgraded. With UHD/ 4K, even fewer titles would be. Although I’m sure all Disney animated films would be yet again…and Star Wars. Sigh.

    Question: What is the upconvert rate on a UHD player for a bluray (i.e. DVD went from 480p to 720p on a bluray player)?

  3. George

    Thanks Drew, feedback is always welcome. Were you comparing the same material on those sets? or was the Sony playing true 4K recordings?

    I do still find that working beyound 1080p allows so much more information to be displayed on the screen and the LG 4K YouTube demo videos are sharper & brighter than anything 1080p can do.

  4. Drew


    I was playing 4K material on the Sony 4K set, alongside identical 1080p clips on the Panasonic plasma.

    The “4K” YouTube demo clips look better, than their “1080p” counterparts, because none of those clips are anywhere close to 4K Or 1080p. It’s another case of YouTube improving all of the other aspects of picture quality on the “4K” demos, to make them look better than the “1080p” ones. Think of it this way — the YouTube “4K” demos don’t even look remotely close to a good 1080p blu-ray. They are a terrible source to judge the difference.

  5. 3D came way too soon after 1080P sets hit the market and 4K looks to be doing the same thing in my opinion. The industry needs to slow down a bit and give ordinary people a chance to catch up and enjoy the improvements that full HD provides.

    I am certainly in no rush to buy a 4K set. I want an affordable 55″ OLED 4K 3D TV and that is some years away yet.

  6. Kyle

    I have no plans on going 4K anytime soon. Blu-ray looks already looks great as is and don’t feel the want or need to upgrade, unlike from dvd to blu-ray/hddvd. On top of that I haven’t even finished upgrading all of the dvds in my collection that I want on blu-ray…I really don’t want, nor have the funds, to buy my collection a third time (I didn’t buy many vhs, mainly rented them and never bothered with laserdisc)

  7. Freakyguy666

    4K 3D WITHOUT GLASSES. You get true 2k for each eye (3D) and still have the option to watch 2D 4K if you can find the content. Best of all the existing library of blurays will not have to be replaced as the 3D effect is done by the hardware/software.

  8. Pedram

    People can dismiss 4k all they want, but eventually we’re all going to have 4k screens; some faster than others.

    Do you see any 1024×768 monitors any more? What about CRT displays? We’re going to reach a point where the price difference won’t be very much, and it won’t make sense NOT to get a 4k display.

  9. Tony Baxter

    The powers that be seem to pass on 2 of the major potentials of 4k (and resulting ways for the mass audience to perceive the difference).

    The screen size should favor 2.35 “widescreen” content. In this shape, a widescreen presentation would be 5k wide by 2k high. This shape and clarity would definitely be arresting in a retail setting. I picked up a 1080p Vizio 2.35 at a fire sale and its ability to deliver 1080p 2.35 content (without black bars) using all 1080 lines of resolution is astonishing. Imagine quadrupling this capability in 4k.

    The other big advantage in 4k is 3D. It delivers passive 3D with cheap glasses at the same resolution as active 1080p systems (without battery hassles or added cost). A 3D “party” is a possibility with expendable glasses.

    As for content quality, this is the weakest advantage for now. Only 70mm content will show perceptible additional detail. Newer films like Star Wars I (filmed in 2k) and 35mm negatives are approaching their maximum visable detail at 1080p.

    The Herculean effort on the 35mm technicolor Wizard of Oz brings the audience to that point of diminishing returns. For Oz, like the majority of existing content, that is 2k.

    • T.J. Kats

      2.35 on blu ray doesn’t use all 1080 lines. Those pixels are in the black bars so while removing the bars for only the picture to be shown is a plus you only get ~818 lines of resolution.

  10. Tony Baxter

    There are 1080 vertical lines on the Vizio 2.35screen. It automatically scales the blu 2.35 mastered discs to fill all of them rather than just the 818 of a 16×9 normal monitor. The results allow for 262 lines of additional active vertical display, as well as nearly 3000 columns of pixels horizontally.Trust me the difference is more than perceptible and that is compared to a Runco 16×9 projector.

    • T.J. Kats

      Not saying it is not good just meant it wasn’t the pixels as on the disc. Yes there are that many pixels on the screen but they are not on the disc so the tv is having to scale the image. Reviews I just looked up say it does a good job with this but it is still scaling from 818 to 1080 not showing the 1080 that are on the disc.

  11. Tony Baxter

    This same upconversion process is employed in all state of the art Blu-ray players capable of scaling 1080 blu’s to 4k. If the resulting images are not substantially better than what can be seen on a regular 1080p monitor, 4k will be a stillborn issue for the masses.
    Even then, it will be a Miracle if the media companies can rally the public to upgrade existing massive BR collections to 4k. More likely, 4k will be reserved for unique titles that can push beyond the superb upscaling some of us already enjoy.

  12. motorheadache

    Law of diminishing returns. 4K for the home is a marketing gimmick. 4K is a nice upgrade for theaters, but I’m skeptical of any real noticeable benefits for a tv, or even a front projector setup. I have a 1080p projector and the picture is pretty much as good as I’d ever think a movie needs to look.

  13. William Henley

    I actually had to make a decision recently – I had a fire and lost everything, so when the insurance money came in, I had a lot to look at. 55 inch 4ks are going for about $1500 for the cheaper brands, so I started seriously looking at 4k. I’ve seen the displays on display at the stores, and even at 55 inches, you can really tell the difference, which surprised me. I was not expecting it to be that dramatic.

    So why didn’t I go with a 4k? The answer is simple – HDMI 2.0. None of the televisions I saw had HDMI 2.0 in them yet, which means your 4k content is locked to 30Hz and 30FPS. Some of the more expensive displays promised HDMI 2.0 with a firmware upgrade, but I was hesitant about that, and, like I said, those were more expensive displays – more than I wanted to spend. However, I think the number one thing that held me back is none of the 4k displays in my price range supported 3D, and I am a big 3D fanboy (even with its limited library).

    I am still debating about maybe picking up a secondary display and maybe it being 4k, but I really want to wait until they start including HDMI 2.0 in the devices first.

    I DID make sure the receiver I bought supported 4k passthrough, though.