One great thing about CES (News - Alert) every year is that there's almost always some impressive new development in the field of home theater. Generally, there are several such developments, so for those out there who like to spend the weekends watching movies at home, there are a lot of new things to look forward to hitting stores that get their first showing at CES.
This year is no different, as an unexpected maker, Vizio, shows off a line of 4K televisions.
Vizio's 4K televisions, also called Ultra HD, show their images in the impressive resolution commonly known as 4K, or 4906 x 2304 pixels.
If that sounds big, it's because it should. Most commercial releases of anything count their maximum resolution at 1920 x 1080, or roughly four times smaller than the 4K resolution. Vizio's 4K line will also be putting out that impressive resolution at equally impressive sizes, with models set to be available in a choice of 55-inch, 65-inch and 70-inch screens.
The devices are also set to have a dizzying 240 Hz refresh rate for super-smooth images, as well as 3D capability with several pairs of included 3D glasses. There's even Wi-Fi connectivity built in so the television can quickly access things like Netflix, YouTube (News - Alert) and Hulu Plus, among others.
While Vizio is keeping quiet as yet in terms of pricing, and just when these will be available to buy, it's clear that these are going to be impressive additions to the home theater. Further reports direct from Vizio say the Ultra HD models will have "a consumer-friendly pricem," which will hopefully mean somewhere in the under-$2000 range.
Given that Sony's massive 84-inch 4K model was selling at $25,000, most may have to wait a couple years to get their shot at 4K.
This, oddly, is just as well. Vizio is offering some impressive other models in the M series Razor LED Smart TV models as well, with an ultra-thin bezel and screen sizes running from 32 inches clear up to 80 inches. Those are actually priced, running from $399 to $4,499.
Additionally, taking full advantage of a 4K player isn't exactly easy with most commercially available hardware. Blu-Ray players get up to 1080p, which is only about a quarter of what a 4K system can accomplish. YouTube allows for a maximum upload of 4096 x 3072, which would do the job, but to actually see a 4K YouTube video would not only require a massive broadband connection, but also the use of a YouTube downloader program, as YouTube's Web-based player has a maximum resolution of 2048 x 1536. There are an increasing number of cameras that can shoot in 4K, like the RED line, but getting that playback to screens isn't going to be an easy task.
Sony has issued a collection of 4K content via a hard disk server, but it's still rather limited.
Still, it's always good to look ahead, and with early adopters getting behind the launch of 4K, it shouldn't be long before prices start to fall, peripherals start to rise, and 4K becomes available for many more consumers than could get in previously.
This move, however, has interesting implications for the digital delivery vs. disc delivery debate – imagine how difficult it would be to watch more than a couple 4K movies a month on a connection capped at 250 gig – and may well once again shake up the home theater landscape.
Edited by Braden Becker