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FAQ: What is 4K exactly, and do I have to buy a new TV now?

Evan Dashevsky | Jan. 14, 2014
One of the most undeniable trends as this year's CES expo was 4K TVs. There were giant 4K sets, curved 4K sets, and bendable 4K sets. But all that 4K action might leave you wondering: what does 4K mean? And what effect does the onslaught of 4K have on the future of the HDTV I just bought?

Your current cable box, A/V receiver, Roku, Apple TV, and other hardware plugged into your TV probably don't support HDMI 1.4, much less 2.0. Not if they're a couple years old.

More frames is important, right?
More frames per second means less blur. What limited 4K content there is today tends to be available only at 30 FPS, but this will surely change down the line as more content becomes available. If you're going to make an investment in a 4K TV, you might as well go all the way.

HDMI 2.0 was unveiled in September and is still being introduced to the market (not even all 4K TVs have them standard yet). But because HDMI 2.0 is backward-compatible with all previous generations, a new UHD TV with HDMI 2.0 will still be able to "talk" to your old tech. It even uses compatible cables.

This 4K stuff sounds interesting and all, but I'll never be able to afford one, will I?
Well, the new 4K sets are very expensive right now, but they are rapidly becoming more affordable. Vizio, for example, recently unveiled a $1000 4K TV.

Remember, HDTVs were prohibitively expensive not so long ago, but their prices have come down. At this point, it's hard to find a new TV that isn't HD.

I guess I'll have to start thinking about getting a 4K TV — if not this year, then later. But for now I should plan to deal with my plain ol' HDTV?
If you recently purchased a new HDTV, don't worry. It's a great living-room addition with lots of available content! Everyone will be talking about 4K, but you can sit tight while the sets become cheaper, quality improves, and content becomes more readily available. That HDTV you just bought has several years of life left in it before you'll want to move on.

I know it can be tempting to spring for the latest and greatest thing as soon as it becomes available.

But sometimes it's wiser to wait and let the market shake out a little bit. This is one of those times.


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