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Why 4K Television?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by trparky, May 14, 2017.

  1. trparky

    trparky

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    This is going to sound like a rant and that's right... it is a rant. Good God, all I hear about is 4K this and 4K that. Will we please fix HDTV first and then talk about 4K?

    Why do we even have 4K television to begin with? We can't even get 1080 done right in the United States.

    Warning, before you do this I have to warn you that you will never be able to watch your cable TV quite the same after you do this experiment. You have been warned!

    Seriously, when was the last time you looked at your television that's being fed a signal from your local cable company? I mean really looked at it! Take the time to really look at the picture. Notice something? I'll give you a hint... it's not HD. Well, it is "HD" in the sense that it's better than 480 but not by much when you start seeing the compression artifacts such as crushed blacks, macroblocks, etc. Yep, start looking for them. This is the part where you will never be able to look at cable TV quite the same anymore, you're going to find yourself picking the picture quality apart after this. Trust me, I do and it's annoying as hell.

    You see, I know what HDTV is supposed to look like. I have seen it! Where? Blu-Ray of course! Go find yourself a copy of Avatar on Blu-Ray and be prepared to have your mind blown. That's because the Avatar Blu-Ray is the considered by HDTV enthusiasts as the gold standard by which all other Blu-Ray discs are measured up against and fail. Why? Because the encoding was just that damn good! HDTV is supposed to take your breath away with vivid colors and sharp and pristine picture quality, none of which is what you get when you subscribe to most pay-TV providers.

    Why is this? There must be a reason! Well, the reason is that we just don't have enough bandwidth going to our homes in the United States to be able to support a properly encoded HDTV broadcast video stream. Most video encoding experts agree that to provide a well encoded HDTV broadcast video you need at the very least 12 Mbps for acceptable video quality, 16 Mbps to provide superb video quality. Guess what? None of the providers in the United States provide HDTV video streams that come even close to this. Most compress down to 8 Mbps, some even worse than this (*cough* uVerse *cough*). Even the lauded DirecTV, the once gold standard when it comes to HDTV broadcast, still can't provide anywhere close to the required bandwidth for a properly encoded HDTV video.

    So here it comes to the question... Why are we even talking about 4K television when we can't even do 1080 correctly? Why are we talking about 4K which requires nearly four times the bandwidth that a 1080 video stream needs and we don't even have that?

    Yes, I know... NetFlix and Amazon are providing 4K, this I understand. But the difference is that it's pre-encoded so the encoder has had a lot more time to be able to really crunch that video stream down to an acceptable stream size while still maintaining superb picture quality. This is all thanks to something called multi-pass encoding along with variable bitrate encoding. Obviously multi-pass encoding cannot be done with broadcast video because the encoding has to be done in real time. Variable bitrate can be done but most cable companies don't do this, the only provider than does this is DirecTV and still they can't even get 1080 done right. So to compensate for the fact that we can't do multi-pass encoding to real time broadcast video we need to have a higher bandwidth profile to be able to provide for a superb picture quality.

    So why 4K? Well... I think that it's much like 3D. We need to get people to buy new TVs since most people already have a 1080p set.

    In the future we may all have enough bandwidth but that will require the providers to lay down fiber to all homes across the United States but lets face facts here, that's at the very least 10 or 15 years down the road. Crap.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
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  2. MrGenius

    MrGenius

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    I know right? For the most part everything(on cable TV) still looks better on a non-HD large screen CRT IMO.
     
  3. AsRock

    AsRock TPU addict

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    So they can make yet another version of Lord Of The Rings, goes for some of the others too, and have you pay for it all over again.

    Love LOTR personally but i get all mine from the Thrift store so :p.

    Some people just have to have the latest and greatest so gotta keep them happy hehe. Personally i be avioding 4k and more interested in a real good 1080P HDTV.

    But your right 1/2 the content available is not up to par, and to be honest Brave heart blu ray looked awesome on a 40" HDTV over that what i had before which was a 27" tube TV.

    Don't watch blu ray though a PC, much better with a dedicated unit for it.
     
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  4. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    Hey, that's quite a rant and I basically agree. Those artifacts from the UK TV platforms (Freeview/Sky/Virgin) can be noticeable, depending on the channel and program being broadcast.

    I remember a few years ago when some member of the royal family got married, I went round to a friend's house who has a high quality 1080p 50 inch Panasonic plasma TV and noticing how amazing the picture looked. Clearly for this event, the BBC had turned up the bandwidth to make it look as good as possible and it really showed. I remember the demo videos in the shops looking like this when 1080p was new. Shame they can't do this for regular broadcasts.

    Still, going to a higher resolution will noticeably improve the picture, even with imperfect coding and tight bandwidth and that's enough to sell the 4K Koolaid, so that's why they do it. Money. Personally, I wish they wouldn't focus so much on spatial resolution and do something about the temporal resolution which is still stuck at 25/30/50/60Hz. We should now have a 100/120Hz refresh minimum and non-interlaced. This would easily fit into the bandwidth needed by a 4K transmission and look so much better. Of course, so many TV series in particular are recorded at 25/30Hz that they would need to have motion interpolation applied to bring them up to this standard, but that has its own problems of artifacting and odd-looking motion "accelerations". All new content should be recorded at 100/120Hz and not the low ones for the crappy so-called "filmic" feel. Selling a high refresh rate progressive scan is of course, more difficult however, so we're stuck with what we've got now.

    I know that a handful of movies at the cinema were made at twice the framerate, 48Hz, but that's had a very mixed reaction from ignorant, technically illiterate audiences who are so used to the old juddery picture of 24Hz double scanned that they think it looks worse, so it hasn't taken off. Such a great pity.

    This whole low refresh rate issue is a pet peeve of mine and I hate it. Give me smooth motion any day for all content.
     
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  5. 64K

    64K

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    I would rate this rant as 8.6 out of 10.
     
  6. trparky

    trparky

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    That's a pretty good rating. :D
     
  7. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    ATSC 3.0

    DirectTV and Dish Network can broadcast up to 1080i (like ATSC 1.0).
     
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  8. TheLostSwede

    TheLostSwede

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    1080 TVs were around for a long, long, long time before there were widely available content for them, so why would it be any different for 4K TVs?

    Also, not everyone lives in the US. Many countries have widely available 1080p transmissions these days (some even at good quality), be it over DVB-T2, DVB-S2 or DVB-C. However, as the US as always decided to go its own way on standards... You're stuck with 1080i or whatever you get. Then again, over the new few years we should see a transition from H.264 (many countries had to swap STBs going from MPEG-2 (DVB) to H.264 (DVB-x2)) to H.265, which should allow for the same quality at reduced bandwidth, or increased quality at the same bandwidth. Is this going to be enough for 4K, maybe not, but you'd at least only see a two fold increase in bandwidth needed, instead of four times as much.

    Most of my cable channels are in 1080p now and our cable company even gave us two free STB's ahead of their switch over to an entirely digital network. Killing the analogue channels adds tons of bandwidth for new channels or improved quality. This is what happens when you live somewhere that the government has a say in things, but apparently capitalism works better...
    I also get 200/30Mbps internet for $33 a month, so streaming isn't exactly a problem.

    That said, I have no intention of getting a 4K TV, since as per your post, at the moment, they're fairly pointless.
     
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  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright

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    It is a serious rant, but IMO, it is not properly placed.

    First off, this is not really a US problem. The problem is a lack of demand, and a lack of 4K content. When there is more demand, cable providers will supply.

    My cable does indeed provide real HD. I say real, but will give in to the rant a little bit because it is 1080i, not 1080p. But that does not mean I cannot enjoy full 1080p or 4K content.
    The question is, why are you so focused on your cable company? Is that the only source of TV content you get?

    Netflix streams 1080p in real 1080p. But also, Netflix has been streaming 4K content since 2014 - thought that is still limited.

    DirectTV offers 4K content, including major sports events (the Masters, and some baseball games, as examples).

    And of course, you can get 4K with a 4K Blu-ray player.

    So IMO, your question is wrong - thus your rant is focused on the innocent, not the culprit.
     
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  10. theoneandonlymrk

    theoneandonlymrk

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    Its not any better in the uk tbh , i have two and neither was bought to watch broadcast content.
    Computers and consoles are the only use case that offers more pros then cons to me, though watching poor content is still a bit better on a better set , and hopefully standards wont charge to much making it future proof.
    I have both set to full rgb though as the other options don't get anywhere near the right colour space, benches and fps suffer as a result anecdotally.
     
  11. trparky

    trparky

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    But what is the bitrate at which they provide HDTV service to you? More than likely your provider is smashing four (or worse, five) HDTV channels per QAM channel which on average provides somewhere around 35 Mbps per QAM slot; 32 Mbps after overhead. If they put four HDTV channels into that 32 Mbps QAM slot that allows for a maximum of 8 Mbps, if they do five channels that only leaves room for 6.4 Mbps per HDTV channel. Both of which is far short of what is required by most video encoding experts to provide decent HDTV picture quality let alone superb picture quality.

    Because that's where most people get their live TV content from.

    You forget that I mentioned services like NetFlix and Amazon in my original rant. They provide 1080p content and even 4K content at a decent stream size while still maintaining superb picture quality thanks to the fact that the video isn't being encoded in real time like what needs to be done for live content. They can spend the time (hours, sometimes a day or more) to put the encoders into multi-pass encoding and variable bitrate mode to be able to squash that video stream size down while still maintaining picture quality, live providers can't. The only way to get around this live content limitation is to provide for a higher bandwidth profile per HDTV channel to make up for the fact that they can't do multi-pass encoding.

    The answer is that we need more bandwidth to our homes. We need fiber to our doorsteps, plain and simple. This is the only way we will be able to deliver the next generation resolutions that people are going to demand. A measly 15 Mbps is not going to be able to cut it. We're going to need Gigabit to our homes and that's going to be a bare minimum. Unfortunately I don't see this happening in the US for least the next ten to fifteen years. The telcos of the US are too busy trying to squeeze even more blood out of the turnip that is copper wire. We need to come to the realization that copper is dead, it will never be able to provide the kinds of bandwidth that future services will need. We need to fiber and we need to do it now. It's not the lack of content that is inhibiting the adoption of 4K, it's the fact that we can't deliver it; we don't have the bandwidth to do so.
     
  12. Ithanul

    Ithanul

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    I don't watch cable (can't get it out here) nor hardly watch the TV channels that come over the air waves.
    So, that stuff don't bother me. I could care less if the TV companies ever catch up. Most of the stuff is a bore anyways.
     
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  13. trparky

    trparky

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    There's still a number of CBS shows that I watch on a weekly basis. I'm heavy into crime dramas so the Criminal Minds and NCIS like shows appeal to me. I often find myself analyzing the plot of the show to find out who did it first before the people in the show find out. I don't just watch TV, I think while doing it.
     
  14. alucasa

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    A person does not have to follow hype trains.
     
  15. Vayra86

    Vayra86

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    Realistically:
    - All new consumer goods' 'innovations' consist of selling you a product, or a service.
    - We already have cable
    - We don't pay for a higher bandwidth cable
    - A new TV only offers a new product, not a new service, and you only pay for a new product, not a new service

    Now explain how 4K is going to get paid :)

    TV land has never made a jump to a new quality level except when going from black & white to color TV.

    Why do you have 4K to begin with? Because these TV's make a better impression when you walk past them in the store. Its the same reason they're all set to 100/100 brightness and oversaturated color. Nobody is going to watch a 4K nature documentary more than once or twice on this TV, beyond that, they're just watching an overexpensive panel with the same content as everyone else.

    And even if you HAD 4K, its still going to be a heavily compressed signal because the infrastructure is nowhere near capable of carrying its entire channel package in full quality 4K. And here is the kicker: even if you HAD FULL QUALITY 4K, you still can't see the merit because regular viewing distance would require you to cover an entire wall in screen size, otherwise you can't even observe more than half of the pixels you get.

    Funny thing is, gaming's not much different really. Yes, things scale up nicely with resolution, but you can clearly see the difference between content that's built for 1080p, sub 1080p, or 1440p and beyond. You see it in UI scaling, you see it in texture sizes, you see it in optimization for a specific res. You can toss 16x DSR over a super old game, its still gonna be an ugly fucker, more often than not with illegible text.

    The reality is, we all want to be very diverse and unique and pride ourselves on buying a new (4K) TV, 4K capable or VR capable PC, 3D ultra widescreen super combo whatever, but anything that deviates from the mainstream native resolution is going to be subpar (or grossly overpriced with questionable ROI). Early adopting this type of stuff is going to be shit, and it will be shit forever. Because by the time it turns mainstream, not only is it a quarter of the price, its also become progressively better quality.

    The movement to a higher resolution is there, but Television is not what makes it happen. Its the internet, on-demand streaming and mostly Netflix, porn and Youtube that's really making it happen. Fun fact: it is also companies like Netflix that despise net neutrality because they need that bandwidth to 'stream 4K to you' without delay. Another big warning sign that the world's infrastructure is not ready for it.

    Really the only good thing about 4K TV's being waaay too early is that good quality 1080p OLED TV is far more affordable in the end. Everything else, honestly, isn't worth it.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  16. trparky

    trparky

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    Yeah, I bought a new 1080p television a year and a half ago. Cheap, cheap, very cheap; but still very good (it's a Samsung model). All the 4K TVs were at least $300 to $500 more depending upon what features it had (or didn't have), some didn't even have HDR yet. I just don't see the draw for 4K yet when 1080p is good enough.
     
  17. jmcslob

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    It really has nothing to do with 4k...
    It's about the new features...that sells better with a bigger resolution number..
    It makes it easier for people to differentiate between new tech and old.
    It's literally nothing more than a PR campaign...
    I love my 4k TV.. Not for 4k but for the 126 lighting zones and HDR....
    Also there has to be an update as 1080p and it's color spectrum were already set as a standard..UHD has a much better spectrum in its standard.
    I think 4k sounds better than 1080p 2.0
    And I'll be honest I wouldn't have paid the same high price for the same features on a 1080p TV...
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
  18. Dethroy

    Dethroy

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    I haven't watched cable TV since 2014. Everything I consume is either on Netflix, Amazon or Blu-ray.
    Note: Most of my Blu-ray library - roughly 400 Blu-rays - still consists of 1080p discs, while 4K is slowly catching up.
    Both the LG oled and the Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player do a superb job of upscaling 1080p Blu-rays.
    I actually got a pretty good deal on the LG and couldn't be more happy about said purchase.
     
  19. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright

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    Nah! That is not correct.

    First, that is a huge "what if" scenario. Not all service providers are alike. Second, you only need 5Mbps bandwidth for HD. And third, once again, your focus is in the wrong place. You ask, "Why 4K Televisions?" but now you're blaming the cable companies. ???

    And picture "quality" with digital signals don't degrade in the manner you are suggesting. My TV tells me what type and resolution signals I am receiving. If my cable company were degrading my signal, my TV would tell me - though I would see it anyway.

    But again, you asked, "Why 4K Television?" And now you say "live TV content"! What do you mean by "live"? Again, it seems your focus is all over the place but where it should be - and that is in the recording studios or on the playing fields.

    If people get their content ONLY from cable and their provider does not provide 4K content, they why would they be buying a 4K TV? They wouldn't - unless they have an unscrupulous salesperson. It is not like every new TV out there today supports 4K. And if people have no interest in 4K, they should be buying 4K TVs. And they don't have to.

    If folks are in the market for a new TV now, and they wish to future proof their purchase, it makes sense to buy a 4K TV now.

    Look, I think you have some legitimate arguments but you are focusing on the TV when you should be focusing on the lack of 4K content. That is not the fault of the cable providers, or the TVs.

    If consumers want 4K content from their cable companies, they need to demand 4K content. But because that requires considerably more bandwidth, they will need to be ready to pay for it. And most people believe they are paying too much for cable TV already.
     
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  20. trparky

    trparky

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    How the hell can you say that? Yes it does, that is, if the video stream is over-compressed.

    Sure, if you want the picture quality to look like absolute shit. Get even a little bit of motion on the screen such as a fast pan of the camera during a sports event or an action scene from a movie and with only 5 Mbps that picture it's going to turn into muddy mess of compression artifacts and you lose detail like nobody's business. Watch what happens when confetti is on the screen, it turns into a damn mess because of over-compression. If there was enough bandwidth we would be able to see every little piece of paper but instead we just see a big multi-colored blob of macroblocks.

    I describe live TV content as anything that's not on-demand. Linear TV if you will. Content that is being sent to you not as a huge bundle but as it is being played at the point of broadcast. That is live TV. A lot of people, much to many people's amazement, are still watching TV like this. They set their DVR up to record something on TV and watch it at a later time. It may not be live at that moment but was live at some point and encoded in real time as versus being pre-encoded with many encoding passes like what you get with on-demand services.
     
  21. dorsetknob

    dorsetknob "YOUR RMA REQUEST IS CON-REFUSED"

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    Just Curious and a question
    Commercial 4K Tv Service and those pesky Ad Breaks

    ARE THE ADVERT's IN 4K or are they Scaled up ?
     
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  22. Vya Domus

    Vya Domus

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    4K as in a standard for TV broadcast is certainly a joke as of now , 4K as multipurpose display technology certainly not.
     
  23. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Beware that 4K can look like 720i if the quality in the codec is set ridiculously low or there's a lot of packet loss. All TV transmission standards use lossy video encoding.
     
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  24. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright

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    Yeah, "if". You are basing all your arguments on "if" scenarios then assume that exception proves your point as though that applies to everyone. :(

    Your opening post asked no less than 3 times, "why 4K televisions" yet you continue to harp on cable TV as though that is what EVERYONE watches. It's not.

    No. It is not at all like 3D.

    3D failed because 3D requires headsets that most people don't want to wear for hours on end. Plus the headsets require you sit directly in front of the TV (which is why curved sets are not selling like makers want). They are only optimal for the person sitting in the "sweet spot". And headsets take away from the enjoyment for some with watching a program with others.
     
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  25. notb

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    Agree. 4K is somehow being forced by large screens, but that's just bullshit. The truth is: people buy TVs that are too big - these results in an angle of view much larger than what you get from mid rows in a cinema. Yes, if you sit 3 meters from a 50" TV, you could see a difference between HD and 4K.

    But for me the resolution is a minor issue. I'm more concerned about the refresh rate.
    Movies shown in 24-30Hz look natural. That's what we got used to. But lately we're getting more and more 60Hz+ and, combined with very intensive colours, it all looks weird and unnatural. Suddenly AAA movies started to look like cheap porn and I kind of hoped for the opposite. :p
     

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