WTF is... 4K x 2K?
What, Full HD not good enough for you?
If you’re worrying about having to upgrade all your new HD kit to cope with 4k, relax - HD isn’t going to fade away any time soon. While a mere £500 will buy you Onkyo’s new TX-NR609 AV receiver, which can upscale material to a 4k-compatible resolution of 3840 x 2160, for now it’s best considered a feature added to tick a box, rather than an essential requirement.
How much bigger? 4k x 2k compared to 1920 x 1080
That’s because actually being able to afford a display with native 4k resolution will make the cost of the receiver look like pocket money. In the US, TV maker Westinghouse produced a set with "quad HD" resolution as long ago as 2007 - for around $50,000. A 4k projector such as JVC’s DLA-RS4000 can set you back twice that.
Most major TV manufacturers have exhibited 4k displays at trade shows like CES and IFA in recent years, but products you can buy remain few and far between. And it’s arguable whether or not you’ll notice the extra definition on a set that would fit in a typical UK sitting room.
Some displays certainly won't fit. LG has demo'd an 84in panel, while the current winner in the size stakes is Panasonic’s 152in plasma screen, which is intended more for the cinema rooms of the very wealthy. With a screen large enough to show lifesize images with fine detail, Panasonic envisages it being used in luxury car showrooms and the like, so customers can see different trims and interiors.
Onkyo's TX-NR609: will decode 4k x 2k, even without a suitable screen
This year’s CES saw manufacturers presenting more home-friendly 4k screens, including a 56-incher from Sony. However, like other manufacturers, Sony is driven by the industry’s present obsession with 3D, and will use the extra resolution to help make glasses-free systems work better. While 4k potentially has four times the resolution of HD, it’s worth noting that the ‘side by side’ format for 3D puts two images in one frame, halving the resolution, a problem that 4k can obviously help solve.