The 4K Video Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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I am just getting used to Blue-ray and now tech company’s are pushing 4K video.  An odd rumor story on ArsTechnica about the yet-to-be released PlayStation and Xbox got me thinking about this new video format’s effect on the general TV viewer.  While I give better than even odds that one or both will support it, it is unlikely that people will care much in the end.

Today’s video quality is good enough.  Blue-ray disk, the best quality available, are to video as CDs are to music.  Both are slightly better than what the majority of users desire.  We sit too far away from the tele to notice 4K’s better quality.  In addition, the most popular formats for HD viewing, cable and internet streaming, both have worse quality than Blue-ray, but that doesn’t seem to bother people.  These are good indications 4K is doomed to a niche market much like SACD and audio DVDs are to audio.

If a company could get people to care, there is a need for yet another physical format (HD-Blue Ray anyone?)  4K doesn’t fit on a Blue-ray and even if it could, today’s hardware can’t read it.  Punters will need to shell out for both a new player and a TV to enjoy it.  Even if you ditch physical media, these two problems remain as well as the fact that cable and DSL internet pipes are too slow to accommodate the increased bandwidth.

Despite my poo-pooing, I do want 4K to succeed, but not for television.  The quality of computer monitors as peaked because TVs and computer monitors use the same technology.  Better TVs will naturally lead to better resolutions for computer screens.