The Real Truth About 4K and Ultra HD

Technology moves and changes direction at such a fast rate that companies are able to create and sell products based on fads and trends, not on real product innovation and design. as consumers, we are buying products that seem cool, but don’t make much sense. Time after time, we waste hard earned money on junk we never use again. This brings us to the real truth about 4K and Ultra High Definition.

Does 4K or Ultra High Definition Really Exist?

Yes, super high resolution video does exist. Most of the major film studios are already filming movies and TV shows in the 4K and Ultra High Resolution formats as we speak. Furthermore, a majority of the major TV company’s like Samsung, Sony, LG, and JVC already have a full line-up of 4K and Ultra HD TV sets and home theater projectors available to the public. Netflix and Youtube have also joined the revolution by offering a continuous growing library of 4K streaming options.

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So we’ve established that 4K is real. So what’s the problem? Well, here’s the problem with it. Anyone remember Doc Brown’s time machine from the movie “Back to the Future”? In the movie, the time machine itself was completely real and theoretically functional, but since plutonium was almost non-existent in 1955, the time machine was useless.

In our opinion, buying a 4K TV today is like buying a new car that needs plutonium to run.

There are some other major problems facing the reality of 4K and Ultra High definition.

Storage Limitations

The largest available media storage devices on the market today are still Bluray discs and external storage devices (hardrives, etc).

Bluray discs themselves can store roughly 60 gigabytes of video data. Not too shabby for a portable media source. The problem is that a 4k movie can take up as much as 600 gigabytes of storage, so DVD’s and BluRay discs are simply not an option for 4K content. This is why you don’t see 4K discs available today. That leaves us with one real option.

Having your professional audio/video company set-up a 4K media server using external hard drives and video streaming devices like the Apple TV and Roku players.

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Streaming Limitations

How many times have you tried to stream a movie or television show from Netflix only to get that annoying “spinning wheel of death”? We imagine a lot of hands just hit the air.

Most of the reasons behind these slow downloads and video buffering issues originate from low internet bandwidth and speeds. Here in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton areas, we are confined to considerably less internet speeds than most major city’s. 50 megabytes per second is the fastest available internet speed available to us locally.

So, what does this mean to us?

Well, we have 50 meg of speed in our own office and decided to run a test. We downloaded the newest Transformers movie with 1080p resolution using an Apple TV. Since we wanted this streaming test to be a true representation, we decided to use the Apple TV as a wireless streaming device, instead of hardwiring it directly to our router.

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This diminished our 50 meg of available speed to about 40 meg, which is completely normal. This is also the most common set-up in homes today since most routers and network switches are not located in the same area as our TV’s and home technology components. Once we started the download, the movie took roughly 25 minutes to completely download, although we did have the option to start watching the movie about 1 minute in while it was downloading.

This is probably acceptable for most of us, but the 4K version of that same movie would have taken over 14 hours to fully download, and you wouldn’t be able to watch it as it downloads since the movie is feeding data faster than your internet can process. So, if discs and streaming are not options, what are? Our point exactly!

Cable Limitations

Let’s say you are the Doc Brown of this age, and have found a way to play, or stream 4K content reliably. You still have another A/V hurdle to overcome – HDMI cables.

The fastest HDMI cables available today do not exceed 24 megabytes per second. Simply put, it is not possible to actually connect your streaming device and your TV with an HDMI cable that will handle native 4K transmission. A lot of the HDMI cables today advertise themselves as 4K compatible, but you’re being lied to.

Some of these cables can pass unconverted or reprocessed images, but cannot pass native, or true 4K content. “Then why do I  see an image if it’s not processing?” The image you are seeing is actually down converted to the point that your TV and cabling can show you an image. Your 4K dreams are simply a fake reality and they will be for some time to come.

Advanced Integrated Controls is dedicated to offering our Hilton Head and Bluffton community the honest truth when it comes to current home technology trends.

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