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Ultra HD TVs can enhance the viewing experience

Posted September 15, 2014

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— Are ultra HD televisions worth the cost?

Consumer Reports Senior Editor Jim Willcox says they have a lot to offer.

"Ultra HD TVs have four times the number of pixels as regular high-definition sets, so they're capable of razor-sharp detail, especially if you stand up close," he said.

But when standing or sitting farther away – such as the distance between the living room couch and the television – testers found that the difference between an ultra HD television and a regular high-definition set can be difficult to make out.

WRAL’s Documentary Unit was the first in the country to produce a local program in ultra HD with “Take Me Out to the Bulls Game.”

But overall, there’s not much local ultra HD content.

“So that means you’ll be watching a lot of regular HD content on your ultra HD TV,” Willcox said.

But that may be a good thing because testers said the enhanced television can “upconvert” regular HD programs, making details look smoother.

What differentiates ultra HD televisions is how well they “upconvert,” Willcox said.

"If your TV breaks, you might want to consider an ultra HD TV,” he said. “But for most people, a regular high performing, 1080p high-definition TV is still a great option."

An ultra HD television costs between $2,000 and $8,000.

Here’s three to consider, all of which are Consumer Reports Best Buys:

  • Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U for $1,300
  • Samsung UN60H6350 for $1,400
  • LG 60PB6600, a plasma TV, for $850
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  • Mannin Black Sep 17, 2014
    user avatar

    You won't see me paying hundreds, or thousands of dollars more for a TV that has just a little bit better video quality. I am quite happy with my $300, 52 inch regular HD TV.

  • Duff Dry Sep 16, 2014

    Well, we would need content worth watching, first of all. Then, streaming is great until your ISP starts to throttle your connection. Meh..

  • ohmygosh Sep 16, 2014

    This title is contradicted by the info presented in the article.

  • CaptainSpleen Sep 16, 2014

    It's easier for the streaming services to offer 4k. Netflix already offers House of Cards and Breaking Bad in 4k. Amazon is going to start streaming 4k in October. There will be more pressure on broadcasters, cable, and satellite companies to upgrade and compete before they lose even more of their market to Netflix/Amazon/Hulu. The move to 4k will happen faster than the move to HD. I'd still wait a year before getting a 4k TV though.

  • mike275132 Sep 16, 2014

    4K is the adapted Theater level standard.
    Since a lot of HD programing is only 720p on cable / satellite systems and 1080i [ interlaced] , it will be many years until 4K standard is routinely broadcast.
    Over the air Broadcast TV transmitters will even be longer to upgrade .

  • glarg Sep 16, 2014

    "An ultra HD television costs between $2,000 and $8,000.

    Here’s three to consider, all of which are Consumer Reports Best Buys:

    Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U for $1,300
    Samsung UN60H6350 for $1,400
    LG 60PB6600, a plasma TV, for $850
    "
    All three of these are regular HD, not 4K.

    And the problem with the "viewing experience" is that all the content is moronic and unwatchable.

    The last Transformers movie was pitched with no complex dialogue- just explosions everyone could understand. Success! 18% on Rotten Tomatoes but it made 80% of its money over seas.

    We can all look forward to 4K material pitched at non-english speakers. Great.

  • Joe Ely Sep 15, 2014
    user avatar

    "WRAL’s Documentary Unit was the first in the country to produce a local program in ultra HD...."

    This same quote was true for HD back in the 1990's when WRAL produced a Durham Bulls game in HD. My guess is it will be about 10 years from now before it would be feasible to buy an Ultra HD TV. I don't see all of the TV Networks replacing ALL of their equipment anytime soon for this. They just did this recently to go to HD. I'm sure the stations spent MANY billions replacing their equipment for HD. They won't do that again anytime soon.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Sep 15, 2014

    They won't really be worth it until there is more 4k programming rolled out. Even now, unless you have fiber, most HD content is broadcast in 1080i and not 1080p. So, you must have the content recorded in 4k, the medium to support 4k (either broadcast, streaming or hard media) and the 4k tv. Only then will you truly reap the benefits.

  • a sports fan Sep 15, 2014

    "But when standing or sitting farther away – such as the distance between the living room couch and the television – testers found that the difference between an ultra HD television and a regular high-definition set can be difficult to make out."

    Geez--why burn the money; both WRAL and the consumer.