Ultra-HD, otherwise known as 4K, provides four times the resolution offered by most HD TVs that display images in 1080p. While the new high-def format made a big splash at the Consumer Electronics Show last year, hardware makers are ready to deliver products at prices that are less stratospheric.
At the same time, they’re providing Hollywood’s content creators with the tools to produce and deliver the eye-popping visuals that can play on the new screens rolling to retailers. One thing is clear: The living room is about to change dramatically again, much as HD TVs transformed it a decade ago.
THE NEXT CABLE BOX
sony.com | $700
Launched before Labor Day with 70 titles (from “Breaking Bad” to “The Amazing Spider-Man”), Sony’s Media Streamer provides 4K TV owners with high-resolution versions of films and TV shows to play on their pricey sets, including the company’s $7,000 65-inch Ultra HD TV.
THE NEXT HOME THEATERS
seiki.com | $700-$3,000
Analysts have long said that 4K wouldn’t be embraced by consumers until the TV sets become more affordable. Well, that’s already happened with Sears and Amazon selling a 65-inch 4K TV from Southern California-based Seiki Digital for $2,999 during the fall, and smaller 50- and 39-inch units that are priced at as little as $699.
Panasonic Viera WT600 Ultra HD TV
panasonic.com | $5,000
Sony is pushing 4K hard, but it’s hardly alone, with rivals touting their own Ultra HD TVs. Panasonic may have the one to beat, with its slickly designed 65-inch Viera, which boasts support for next-generation inputs, a well-designed interface and frame rates that should more than satisfy cinephiles and gamers.
Ultra HD TV
lg.com | $15,000
LG’s first 4K TV is pricey, but the screen’s also massive (though shy of Samsung’s new 110-inch unit).
POINT AND SHOOT
Sony 4K CineAlta PMW-F55 and PMW-F5
sony.com | $39,400 and $19,400
Spike Lee lensed his Kickstarter-funded “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” using Sony’s CineAlta digital camera, which filmmakers say they prefer over the Red One MX digital cinema camera. Sony’s all-in-one system was especially praised for handling low-light situations.
sony.com | $4,500
With its higher-priced units targeted at professional filmmakers, Sony is also going after the consumer market with its less expensive camcorders, a move that could democratize moviemaking — and give Sony added sources of visuals to
put on its new 4K TVs.
MADE FOR MOBILE
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip was developed for Ultra HD TVs, but also delivers high-quality video, images and graphics to mobile devices, turning them into an Ultra HD home theater in your pocket. LG’s G2 and Google Nexus 5 phone already feature the chip.
FOR THE CONTENT CREATOR
Apple’s Mac Pro Desktop
apple.com | starts at $2,999
Apple’s redesigned powerhouse eschews the bulky tower and embraces a more cylindrical shape, covered in a reflective material, in a package that’s nearly 10” tall and weighs just 11 pounds. The computer is expected to again be the go-to device for the post-production and design worlds, especially considering it supports 4K video and has multiple graphics cards that will allow for the creation of 4K content.
Apple’s newest version of Final Cut Pro X is designed to support 4K editing, while Adobe’s Creative Cloud video apps back 4K resolution in its Adobe Anywhere for Video collaboration product, available for Premiere Pro and other software packages.
TABLETS IN THE ROUGH
Panasonic.com | $6,000
This massive 20-inch tablet is aimed at the video production, architecture, design and photography industries with its Windows 8.1 Pro-powered super high-resolution screen and camera, but is hefty to lug around, weighing five pounds.
SMALL SCREEN WONDERS
4K Ultra HD Monitor
sharp.com | around $5,000
The 32-inch screen displays visuals in super-high resolution (3,840×2,160 pixels) and enables users to view the content of four full HD screens on a single display. Apple has promoted the screen, selling the monitor in its stores.
Ultra HD Monitor
dell.com | $3,499 and $1,399
Dell’s UltraSharp line includes 32- and 24-inch high-resolution monitors boasting the expected crisp visuals, perfect for graphics designers and gamers. A 28-inch model priced at less than $1,000 is expected to launch in early 2014.