Are We Approaching 4K the Wrong Way?
There’s been a lot of talk about 4K lately, much of it focusing on the lack of sources, the lack of a 4K broadcast standard, and the question of whether or not we really need more resolution than current 1080p sources and displays offer. Some of the criticisms are more valid than others at this early stage in 4K’s tenure, but even the counterarguments are sort of missing the point. The message we’re using to sell 4K today—more detail from more pixels!—is largely going to be lost on a consumer base that, for the most part, doesn’t sit close enough to their current TVs to even appreciate the resolution afforded by lowly 1080p.
Instead of standing at the back of the room and shouting, “Hey, you, way over there! We’re going to give you more tiny pixels!” the way to appeal to the average consumer is to say, “Hey, you, way over there! Come closer! Remember what it was like to watch TV as a kid!”
Those of us old enough to remember when they actually showed cartoons on Saturday morning television also probably remember being scolded for sitting mere feet away from our “big screen” 27-inch sets. And given how much radiation those old CRT TVs gave off, our folks may have had a point. But something happened to us as we aged. We scooched further and further back into the room, maybe because we started paying for our own furniture and wanted to use it, but probably because we also realized that TVs just don’t look so hot when your nose is pressed to the glass.
We won’t bore you with the math, but to take Sony’s massive new 84-inch 4K TV as just one example, though, you could sit five-and-a-half feet away from that behemoth and never spot a pixel. At that distance, and with a screen that size, the TV would be filling just less than 60 degrees of your field of view—a good 60% wider than THX recommends for an immersive cinematic experience.
And that’s assuming you have 20/20 vision and are looking at test patterns. With real world eyes and real-world high-definition video, you could sit even closer and suffer not an ounce of pixelation. Your own personal IMAX.
Granted, most consumers don’t give a single thought to pixel widths and viewing angles and optimal seating distances. They do, however, remember the joys of filling their faces full of TV. 4K can give them that again. Without the cruddy picture. Without the irradiation. And without their parents whapping them on the backs of their heads.