4K digital resolution has been used for Hollywood movies filmed in digital formats for a number of years. At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), 4K moved into home theater use when several HDTV manufacturers displayed 4K resolution demo TVs.
4K refers to a 4096 pixel width for the resolution of the video, which more than doubles the 1920 pixel width of the 1080p high definition resolution. When the vertical and horizontal image is taken into account, that’s 4 pixels of finer detail that represent every 1 pixel with standard high definition. That higher resolution translates into a much sharper image for large screen TVs and projection home theaters. While 1080p HD uses a 1920 x 1080 standard resolution, the standard for 4K is 4096 x 2160.
The new technology is impressive, but none of this comes without a cost. At CES, the Sony rep estimated that their 4K television would cost somewhere in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. Toshiba offered a similar estimate. Consumers will also need to invest in new Blu-ray players and, of course, 4K movies if they want to experience 4K resolution in all of its glory. The Toshiba demo took 4K one step further by using 4K technology with their “eyeglass free” 3D technology demo. Any new 4K player should offer upscaling to near 4K quality, which will allow users to view standard Blu-ray movies with a higher picture quality than they would normally experience with a standard HDTV and Blu-ray.
4K resolution is another major leap in technology similar to the visual difference between a standard DVD and Blu-ray high definition. Our prediction, however, is that the consumer adoption of 4K will be slow — very slow. First, the prices have to come way down. Large screen HDTV sales did not really take off until the prices dipped below $3,000. $4,000 could be the acceptable threshold for 4K pricing, but that is still half of the estimate provided at CES. Second, the economy has to take off to increase consumers’ discretionary spending levels.
At the time of this writing, there are no movies currently available in the 4K format. Rumor has it that the first 4K movies will be released to consumers in 2013. A number of popular Hollywood movies were shot using 4K, such as Avatar, The Green Hornet, Knowing, District 9, The Social Network and others. Those would be the natural choices for the first release of native 4K movies. Other movies will likely have to be remastered, which will produce mixed results.