Are you considering an upgrade to 4K video in your conference room, classroom, auditorium, or other meeting space? Or, are you curious about the impact 4K will have on future upgrades? In this post, we will explore 4K and what things you should consider before adopting this new display technology.

Display technology has undergone a revolutionary transformation over the last two decades. It is hard to believe that High Definition only arrived in the U.S. in the late 90s. Now, 4K is quickly replacing HDTV sets in many homes. In terms of home entertainment, 4K is a game changer. However, there are some things to consider when deciding if 4K is a worthwhile investment for businesses and organizations.

What is 4K?

4K refers to one of the latest standards in high definition displays. The name is based on the horizontal pixel count of around 4000. 4K offers a resolution of 2160×4096 pixels. Compare that resolution to HD’s 1080×1920. At first glance, it might look like 4K offers twice the pixels. However, because the display is a rectangle, the total pixel count is figured by multiplying the vertical and horizontal. This gives 4K a total of 8,294,400 total pixels, compared to HD’s 2,073,600.

4K is also often referred to as Ultra High Definition or UHD, although there is a slight difference between UHD and 4K 4K offers 2160×4096 pixels, whereas UHD is a bit smaller at 2160×3840.

4K is, in the right setting a dramatic improvement over standard High Definition. With four times the pixels as HD, it offers substantially more detail, more vibrant colors, higher contrast, and overall improved viewing experience.

Is it Time to Upgrade to 4K?

Given the rapid adoption of 4K TVs for home use, many clients are asking about 4K installations for classrooms, training facilities and offices. Since 4K is an improvement over HD, would it be wise to add these improvements to new or upgraded audio visual systems?

Before investing in new equipment, there are several factors worth considering.

1. 4K Content

To take advantage of 4K resolution, you need 4K content. 4K content is quickly becoming available for the consumer market. The best source of this content is currently from Ultra HD Blu Ray discs. Major streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube are now also offering 4K content and steadily increasing the number of available titles.

Since most businesses and organizations don’t use their audio visual systems to stream movies, it is worth asking what type of content is available to display in 4K? Very few corporate training videos are being produced in 4K at this point. Also, much of the content presented on these systems comes from laptops and personal computers. Although there are 4K laptops on the market, very few have the processing speed to output true 4K resolution without performance issues.

2. Viewing Distance

The impact of the higher resolution of 4K displays rapidly diminishes the further you get from the display. In fact, the recommended viewing distance is one to one and a half times the diagonal size of the screen. That means to get the full impact of a 70” 4K display, you should be sitting between 5.8 and 8.75 feet away. That might be perfect for your living room but much more difficult in a multi-purpose training room.

3. Cost

Installing or upgrading to 4K involves several cost factors. While 4K capable displays and projectors are quickly becoming more affordable, they are not the only thing to consider when pricing a system. 4K imaging requires a signal path that can carry higher resolution content. That includes cabling, switchers, and digital signal processors. This can add significant cost to the installation.

So, Is 4K Worth It?

While the current limitations on content, need for shorter viewing distances, and cost are definitely some things to consider, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many cases where the investment is warranted.  In many situations, the brilliance and capability are worth it. Medical imaging, scientific applications, and other applications where precise detail are essential may find 4K a worthwhile upgrade.

For those considering a major upgrade or brand new system, there may be a question of investing in some amount of 4K infrastructure to enable the system to be ready when more content becomes available. Even with more available content, given viewing distance limitations, will there be a noticeable difference of clarity in larger spaces?

We Can Help

As you can see, the question of whether or not 4K it worth it for your organization involves several complicated factors. When considering a new installation or upgrade, it is vital to have an expert to help you decide. Consulting with a reputable, professional AV firm such as NEDI will help you make the right decisions and invest in the proper configuration for your needs. We will work with you to assess your needs and advise you on your best path forward.

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