While some manufacturers insist on pushing 8K as the go-to resolution, the truth is that 8K TVs are not only too expensive for most but are also unnecessary unless you really need them. On the other end of the spectrum, Full HD models are not just outdated but offer a subpar experience for most of the content you have available today. So, where do we end up? With 4K TVs, of course.
But when it comes to buying the right TV, you have far more choices than you know what to do with. And it’s not just about the resolution – you have panel types, backlight solutions, operating systems, etc. You’re looking at a lot of information and price points that go from value-oriented, to high-end premium panels.
To help you make the right choice, let’s see what makes 4K panels so good, and what you should consider before you go out and buy one.
Why You Need a 4K Smart TV
As we mentioned, with so many options and so much information to digest, you might be wondering why 4K is the way to go. So, let’s take a look at what is 4K TV, and what else you stand to get with one.
To start, 4K is an indicator of the resolution, or the number of pixels both horizontally and vertically – which in this case is 3840 x 2160. If you’ve looked at a Full HD TV, you’ll notice that this resolution has four times the number of pixels. At an identical panel size, that would mean you get four times a sharper image. This is quite noticeable, especially if you’re close to your TV, and if you’re looking at purchasing larger TVs.
Another thing you’ll get with 4K is not just detail and sharpness, but also pixel depth. There’s a flattening effect that happens when you’re looking at a landscape, or a similar view because your TV can’t render any more detail. With 4K and its ability to render finer details, that flattening effect is something you’ll notice a lot less of.
Last but not least, one of the main reasons for people not to get a 4K TV in the past was the price. Nowadays, you can get 4K models at a price that’s more than reasonable - just look at the P6 from TCL! If you are, however, prepared to spend a bit more, you can enjoy things like better HDR implementation, higher panel quality, and color reproduction. We’ll get to this when we look at our options. But, considering they’re available at almost any price point, we can comfortably conclude that 4K TVs are right for just about anyone.
4K, UHD, and Ultra HD
There are far too many terms to keep track of when it comes to technology, but when you’re getting a 4K TV, you’ll notice UHD (short for Ultra HD) and 4K being used most. And while some might say they’re the same thing, they aren’t. From a consumer standpoint, there’s not much of a difference, but let’s take a closer look.
4K is a professional cinema and production standard, a term that comes from the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives). The standardized spec for 4K is a resolution of 4096 x 2160. This resolution is exactly four times the previous standard, known as 2K, which had a resolution of 2048 x 1080. But it’s not just about the resolution – a DCI 4K stream is also compressed with JPEG2000 and can come with up to a 250Mbps bitrate.
On the other hand, Ultra High Definition, also known as Ultra HD or UHD, evolved from Full HD. UHD, similarly to 4K, is four times the previous standard. From 1920 x 1080, we got to 3840 x 2160. You can see it’s not the same as 4K, which is why many manufacturers tend to advertise their models as “4K UHD”. And as if this wasn’t confusing enough, the resolution of 7680 x 4320 is also known as UHD, although this is oftentimes referred to as 8K UHD.
For a consumer who’s looking to get a 4K TV Australia or in most parts of the world, the one thing that should be kept in mind is that both 4K and UHD indicate a resolution of 3840 x 2160 – and that should make you happy enough. Let’s just say we hope to have cleared up any confusion when it comes to all these terms.
Is Modern Content Good Enough for a 4K TV?
This is another issue that existed a few years ago, but is on the brink of being completely dealt with – we didn’t have 4K content. Most of our content was maxed out at full HD, which made buying a 4K TV somewhat useless - you wouldn’t see the quality you paid for.
Nowadays, though, most streaming services offer UHD content, which allows you to take advantage of the TV you just bought. They also offer a great experience in supported regions, provided you have the bandwidth to get it. Higher resolutions such as 4K will require that you have at least a 25Mbps connection for you to enjoy that content with no setbacks or buffering issues.
But there’s a better solution. Ditch streaming services altogether, and buy your media! This means that anything you buy will be available locally, and you won’t have to worry whether or not your internet connection is good enough as you won’t need it.
Lighting and HDR
If you’re already looking into getting a 4K TV, make sure it’s a 4K HDR TV. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it’s a feature that indicates your TV has a wider range of color details, better shadows, and better highlights. Overall, the image is much punchier and vivid, something a lot of people seem to enjoy.
Let’s see why HDR is so important. The two key factors when you’re looking at a TV are the contrast ratio (how dark and how bright the TV can get) and color accuracy (how close the colors on the TV are to real life or the intended color palette). A better contrast ratio instantly looks more natural and more realistic, with brighter images that give you a sense of depth with the image you’re looking at.
HDR does require high brightness, which is why we would recommend going for a QLED TV. Quantum dot technology allows for some rather high brightness levels, and even value-oriented TVs will come with a pretty good implementation of HDR.
A thing to keep in mind is that not all 4K TV models come with HDR – if you want to enjoy one at its full potential, you should make sure you pick one that has a good implementation.
Best 4K TV Deals
We mentioned that 4K TVs can range from value-oriented models to high-end, premium picks, so here are a few options and features to check out!
The first thing to look at is QLED panels – these are great for a lot of reasons. QLED adds a filter between the backlight and the pixels themselves, which results in incredibly good contrast and brightness. You can get a QLED panel in everything from the value-oriented Series P, to the premium X10 that also makes use of Mini LED.
While we’re on the topic of Mini LED, what’s that all about? Well, Mini LED adds a massive number of pixel-sized LED lights, each one of which is precisely controlled for uniform illumination. While all of this might just sound like marketing, you’re getting incredible image quality models that use these panels.
You should also look at the TV’s operating system, and we would suggest going for Google and their Android TV. Google has a massive market share nowadays, and they’re working hard on improving their operating system. Considering their main opponent, Apple, only integrates Apple TV with a few select (and highly premium) TV sets, going with Google means you have much better support. And overall, the operating system is well made, with an intuitive UI and plenty of supported apps. You can get Google Android TV on a lot of TCL’s 4K models, including the high-end X10, the C815, and a few other Series C and Series P models.
What’s also great about the TCL 4K TV lineup is that you can pick the right panel size for you, from the smaller 43” and 49” models to some truly massive 100” panels. There’s also everything in-between – 55”, 65”, 70”, 75” and 85”, so you can truly get the TV size that’s perfect for your space. With the right size and feature set, what else could you need? You’ll be looking at a TV that gets you an excellent viewing experience, checks all the boxes in terms of functionality, and has the perfect resolution for you to enjoy any type of content!