Buying a 4K TV for Christmas 2016? Read this first..

Posted By: Matt Harris

Over the past couple of years we’ve heard that 4K is coming but there’s been little in the way of content available to really justify the outlay of a new TV (unlike PC’s and phones we don’t tend to upgrade our TV’s very often, the average is about every 7 or 8 years) which when you consider you can pick up a brand new 40 inch 4K TV for about the price of an iPhone, a gadget which we tend to upgrade every 18 months it's really something quite unusual in the gadget world.

In 2017 that’s all due to change. Amazon prime and Netflix have already started to stream 4K (The Grand Tour and Luke Cage amongst others) but next year this is really going to take off with Marvels Iron Fist on Netflix actually shot in 4K and streamed in 4k HDR.

HDR, hang on what’s that about ? Well HDR is High Dynamic Range, it’s yet another factor you need to add into the mix when choosing your 4K TV.

If you shoot footage in LOG (like we do on our Sony FS7) then you’ll know that these cameras give you incredible dynamic range (the human eye gives you around 20 stops of light (http://wolfcrow.com/blog/notes-by-dr-optoglass-dynamic-range-of-the-human-eye/) from the darkest details in the shadows to the brightest highlights) todays high end cameras now are able to shoot from 14 (Sony) to 16 (Red, Arri) and above but to date our TV sets haven’t been able to show this difference (see screen shot below of SDR vs HDR) and one day we'll see cameras exceed that ability (if the Sony rumours are anything to go by - http://nofilmschool.com/2014/11/new-sony-sensor-may-offer-21-stops-dynamic-range-5120-base-iso).

And now, as content creators, we can edit for this in the latest version of Davinci and Premiere which both have HDR editing capabilities in their latest versions.

So essentially you just need to buy a 4K HDR enabled TV right? Job Done.

Not so fast.

Remember the days of VHS vs Betamax ? Or maybe not. Well how about HD-DVD vs Blu Ray?

Well here we go again. It’s not enough to just have an HDR TV – the new competing standard is HDR10 vs Dolby Vision.

Sony and Samsung, the worlds biggest players in the TV market have sided with HDR10. Along with the big Hollywood studios Fox, Warner Bros, Sony, paramount and Lionsgate. Dolby Vision however have gone LG, Vizio, TCL and MGM, universal and Warner Brothers (to be truthful some of these have covered both) But the proof is in the pudding so to speak and you need to look at where you’re going to get your 4K HDR content from in 2017 and beyond.

Netflix and Amazon Prime are providing content on both systems. So far the only 4K Blurays on the market are HDR10 and the best bang for your buck Ultra HD DVD player is the XBOX ONE-S  - which is also HDR 10.

So HDR10 right is the route to go? Well, not so fast, Dolby Vision are saying that their flavour supports 12 bit colour (68 billion colors) and is far more future proof than 'generic HDR10' (1 billion+ colours), however there isn't anything you can currently buy that fulfills that potential !

What would we do? Well we’re working a lot more in high-end video content these days, using the latest cameras and post production equipment so we’re constantly assessing the market and to us it looks like HDR10 is the route to go down at the current time so we'd definitely advise checking that your TV has HDR10 capability. Dolby Vision sounds awesome but we're definitly a few years away from seeing that as tandard - if ever. 

To add confusion to the mix another factor when it comes to Smart TV’s is the underlying OS. We’ve always been fans of the Panasonic Viera for great quality pictures and their latest OS is the extremely clean Firefox OS. Unfortunately a couple of months ago Firefox announced they’re no longer supporting this standard and so it’s essentially a dead duck until Panasonic come up with a new solution. Not ideal…

AND to add even more confusion into the mix, the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo are apparently going to be broadcast in 8K (!) which currently no one out there is streaming, and TV’s cost around £40K at the moment, so until we start to see a MAJOR upgrade from our internet providers in the next three years it's something that we can’t see being big in the UK for many years to come.

As for us? We’ve just mastered our latest Rom Boys trailer in 4K (see below)  and we're currently working on a new 4K HDR version with 5:1 audio remix to really see how far we can push the technology.

Subscribe to the Youtube channel  to watch it when it arrives. (www.youtube.com/romboysfilm). Exciting times ahead...