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Is 4K OK? A look at the future of Ultra HD TV

The 4K technology promises a hyper-realistic viewing experience, but there are numerous obstacles to more widespread adoption. 

SINGAPORE: At the ongoing CommunicAsia Expo held here, 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV is emerging as the next great hope for manufacturers eager to persuade viewers to upgrade their sets.

With four times the resolution of normal HD television and faster frames per second, this new technology is perfect for watching action-packed Hollywood blockbusters and fast-paced sporting events. More vibrant colours and a sense of depth also help to create a sense of immersive hyper-realism.  

"Experts recommend you watch a 4K TV programme much closer to the screen than you would normally be used to for a HD or SD TV set. In this way, the screen takes up a bigger percentage of your field of vision, and you really feel like you're there at the scene of the programme," said Mr Ken Takagi, Director of Managed Media Services at Intelsat.

"So it is going to be great for content like sports, movies, documentaries, and travel programmes where you can feel like you're on the beaches of Bali, for example."

The good news for manufacturers, broadcasters and consumers is that prices for this technology have started to trend downwards.

"The price has come down immeasurably over the last couple of years. The cameras are almost on par with regular broadcast cameras that people purchase," said Mr Chris Grey, General Manager, Content Creation Solutions Marketing, Professional Solutions Asia Pacific Company, Sony. "Even the picture monitors in the stores now, instead of being US$25,000 dollars, they start at about US$5000. So it is a gradual trickle down as people see they can make a return on investment from this."

However, numerous obstacles to more widespread adoption of 4K remain.

Critics say such UHD is only relevant if you plan to super-size your screen, as the improved resolution is all but unnoticeable on smaller TV sets. More problematic is the dearth of content such as movies and TV shows currently using the format, as broadcasters and programmers have been slow to embrace the new technology.

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