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In basic terms, 4K and UHD refer to the same thing. When we go technical, a subtle difference emerges. UHD stands for Ultra High Definition. There are other acronyms like HD (High Definition – 1280 by 720 pixels), qHD (Quarter High Definition – 960 by 540 pixels), FHD (Full High Definition – 1920 by 1080 pixels), and QHD (Quad High Definition – 2560 by 1440 pixels). Each of these refers to specific pixel counts and specific resolutions. UHD is in a different league in that, unlike the others, it is a blanket term to cover two distinct resolutions and pixel counts—4K (2160p – 3840 by 2160 pixels) and 8K (4320p – 7680 by 4320 pixels). Therefore, you have 4K UHD and 8K UHD, which are two different resolutions. However, since 4K UHD is the only commercially viable UHD TV resolution of the two, you can understand why people use 4K and UHD interchangeably.
From the first commercial launch of 4K TVs, the price tag has been on the high side. The innovative top-end technologies that grace the sets do make 4K TVs worth every penny, but then affordability has been a sought-after feature. Thankfully, the manufacturers are responding to these clamors. Prices are steadily dropping and we can identify a trend where newer models sport better technologies but are at or below the price point of older models when they first launched. Nonetheless, the sub-$1000 range of 4K TVs is usually confined to screen sizes at or below 50 inches. You are not going to get a higher screen size at that price range. In any case, 4K TVs bring the future to your sitting room, setting the pace for the avalanche of Ultra HD content that will soon flood the entertainment industry.
To experience the awe behind 4K fully, you should match a 4K TV with 4K content. Thing is, 4K content are not as pervasive as we would hope. For now, VOD platforms like Netflix are pioneering 4K streaming shows and movies (e.g. Smurfs 2 and House of Cards). In some markets, UK and Japan, nationwide 4K broadcasting channels are in the works. In addition, 4K Blu-ray discs are pushing the frontiers as well. While the selection may not be as varied as we are used to with standard HD and FHD content, there is no doubt that the coming years will see the moving pictures industry gravitate more towards 4K TVs. Therefore, buying a 4K TV now is taking a decision that is future proof. In any case, 4K TVs currently sport an exciting feature that enhances conventional HD content, so that it looks better than it would in a standard HDTV. This is great in that you get a better viewing experience with current common HD content and you will be able to playback 4K content as they trickle into the mainstream.
TV technologies are exploding at the moment. Newer standards are making the rounds and better technologies are replacing defunct technologies. In this all, connectivity is important to take advantage of all these exciting additions and improvements. First off, you should pay mind to the HDMI connectivity. The more HDMI 2.0 ports the TV has, the better. You should also ensure that at least one of the HDMI ports has HDCP 2.2 compatibility. HDMI is a groundbreaking connectivity technology that ensures near-lossless transmission of audio and video signals. The advantage of having multiple ports is that you can connect your TV to several potential content sources at the same time—Blu-ray player, set-top box, external media players, etc. You should also confirm if the 4K TV has DisplayPort 1.2 connection baked in.
1. Sony XBR49X830C Review
Sony unwrapped the cover of this trendsetter at CES 2015. The idea behind the X830C is to deliver an absolute stunner with good quality home entertainment at an affordable budget. Remarkably, the model shares quite a number of features that you can find in the more elite high-end 4K models with humongous price tags. This offers the X830C an enthralling visual experience.
Starting off, the Sony X830X offers multiple HDMI ports. It is important to note that the ports use the HDMI 2.0 standard and support the newer HDCP 2.2 technology. The HDCP 2.2 compatibility offers the TV increased access to feature-rich 4K content that are not compatible with older UHD TV models. Therefore, with this purchase, it is certain that you will get all the latest and more bespoke 4K content from set-top media boxes and many streaming providers. In addition, the X830C offers USB 2.0 connectivity and HEVC/VP9 4K video compression codec compatibility.
Say hello to the brand new Android TV operating system and Smart TV platform that graces the Sony X830C. It is a pleasant and dramatic departure from the platform on previous Sony models. The new, improved platform cuts across all of Sony’s TV offerings. It is high up on the ranking of platforms with the best user friendliness and functionalities (including search functionality).
At a sub-$1000 price point, it would be understandable to note that all of the improvements and groundbreaking technology on more expensive Sony 4K models did not make a show down on the X830C. Regardless, Sony offers so much more than the competition, and certainly much more than the price tag suggests.
- Superb viewing experience
- Many noteworthy functionalities and improvements
- Great TV for Gaming
- Terrific connectivity
- Very easy and intuitive to use
2. VIZIO M55-C2 Review
VIZIO unveiled the M-Series for one purpose—to offer the best value and overall quality per dollar in the UHD TV market. Good thing is they succeeded. The M-Series offers a breathtaking mesh of terrific connectivity, overall specs, support for latest 4K video content, and impressive price points.
If you are looking for an affordable 4K Ultra HD Smart TV deal without have to worry about the value or features you would get, then the VIZIO M-Series models are excellent choices. The M-Series line consists of several models within the range of 43 to 70 inches. You would not expect to see high-end stuff here as you would expect to with latest cutting edge models from Sony, Samsung, or LG. Still, you would get exciting 4K and smart features that would make the sub-$1000 price point for the M55-C2 seem like a discount.
Starting off, the M55-C2 is a compact package with an interesting package that offers future-proof 4K technology. The connectivity package is as widespread and encompassing as it gets in the UHD market. You get HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 compatibility, Wi-Fi connections, Ethernet connectivity, and Full HVEC compatibility. These features ensure that all that is on offer today in the world of UHD including VOD platforms—Netflix, Hulu, YouTube; set-top boxes; Blu-ray players etc. are available to you in a seamless way for an amazing viewing experience.
Going forward, you get one feature that until now has been an elite feature that you can only find on the most expensive 4K models across all manufacturers. This feature is full-array backlighting and enters the line after successful implementation in the P-Series models. You also get excellent features including 28 different lighting zones for precise, sharper illumination of content, and an automatic software update process to ensure that you always get updated functionalities as they become available.
- Impressive bang for buck ratio
- Excellent connectivity
- High-end full-array backlighting feature
- Awesome viewing experience
3. Samsung UN55JS7000 Review
Samsung represents excellence. Which is why when they decided to unveil an affordable line of 4K UHD TVs—the JS7000 series, there was no iota of doubt that it would be a solid competitor in the affordable UHD TV sub-market.
The JS7000 series is a part of the 2015 SUHD TV series from Samsung. It carries the best from older models and debuts newer, improved technologies that are bound to leave you in awe. There are so many things to love about the JS7000. One that is of prime importance is its affordability. Within the series is a 55-inch model that goes for under $1000. Truly remarkable as far as price is concerned, and there is more to appreciate about Samsung’s latest offering.
Samsung has always been a driver of innovation. Their multi-billion dollar annual R&D spending (being the second highest spender three times in a row from 2013 to 2015) has ensured that they are among the top 5 most innovative companies on the planet. In fact, quite a number of Samsung display technologies are exclusive to the TV models from Samsung and cannot be found elsewhere. Even better they have pioneered many impressive technologies like OLED.
It is from this wealth of experience, excellence, and creativity that the JS7000 models tap from. They sport one of Samsung’s poster child display technologies, its very own adaptation of the quantum dot technology—quantum dot nano-crystal display filtering. Samsung has refined the technology better. As a result, the viewing experience improves. Furthermore, the JS7000 sports full-array LED backlighting, which plays out well with the quantum dot display filtering technology. This leads to impressive color enhancement.
However, that is not all on offer on the JS7000. A host of unique technologies also graces the line including UHD dimming, a contrast enhancer, dynamic brightness, and a powerful quad-core processor. Thanks to these technologies, the JS7000 line boasts of excellent brightness, contrast, and overall display quality. The formidable four cores processor line-up (quad-core processor) offers the muscle to do the grinding of supporting the immense load of technologies, resulting in lightning quick image rendering even during fast action sequences.
To complete the offering, Samsung also offers a comprehensive connectivity package as well as a new and improved Smart TV platform augmented with Smart View 2.0 for impressive navigation and usability.
- Excellent proprietary technologies and immensely useful functionalities
- High-end full-array backlighting