What is 4K and do I need it for my new projector?
If you’re looking to build your very own home cinema, then chances are you’ll have seen ‘4K’ here and there. It’s the latest breakthrough technology in picture quality and can be found in TVs and projectors, but of course it presents more choice and research to be done for the potential buyer.
Would a 4K projector be a good idea for your home cinema, or should you stick with Full HD? There are upsides and downsides to bagging yourself a new projector with a slice of the very latest technology, and we hope to explain those for you right here to help you make an informed decision.
4K vs Full HD – The main differences
Full HD, or 1080p, is the current standard when it comes to HDTV. It’s the quality you get when watching a Blu-ray and it offers a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. 4K boasts a resolution of 3840 x 2160, or through a projector, 4096 x 2160. This equates to double the vertical and horizontal resolutions of Full HD, and four times the pixels, resulting in a much crisper, sharper picture.
4K also provides a much higher quality of audio – a jump in quality that’s similar to the picture when coming from Full HD.
Is a 4K projector suitable for my house?
To use a projector in a home cinema setup you’ll generally need a fairly large room with a big, flat wall to project on to. Sony, who is currently pushing 4K in its movies, TVs and projectors, says that you don’t need as much space for a 4K projector at home compared to a Full HD one.
To get the optimum picture quality and viewing experience with 4K, Sony says that you need to sit a distance from the display that equals 1.5 times the height of the display, or in the case of a home cinema setup, your projection screen. With Full HD you need to sit even further away – 3 times the height of the display – and so you’re going to need a much bigger room, otherwise you won’t get the full benefit. In this case, unless you have a deep room, a 4K projector is the better option.
What about the price?
Unfortunately, as with any new technology, price is the biggest downside. Right now the cheapest 4K projectors cost around £6,000 and prices can run all the way up to £10,000+. Few manufacturers currently offer projectors with this technology, although big names like Sony and JVC already have several models capable of beaming 4K quality onto your walls.
Compare the cost of a 4K projector to a decent Full HD one and you have a serious difference. A decent Full HD projector can cost anywhere between £1,500 and £4,000, so you’ll be shelling out a fair bit more for the latest tech. However, with a 4K projector you will be future-proofing your home cinema setup for the next generation of movies.
Is there much 4K stuff to watch right now?
The answer right now is, quite simply; no. 4K is still in its infancy, and as such you can’t really buy anything in 4K quality. Sony will be releasing some movies as special ‘Mastered in 4K Blu-rays’ over the summer, including The Amazing Spiderman. Whilst these aren’t technically 4K resolution, they are enhanced to give the best possible quality and should look amazing on a 4K TV or projector.
As with the switch from DVD to Blu-ray, it will take a while for 4K content to become mainstream and readily available, and it’s sure to be expensive for a few years – more cost to think about on top of the extra cost of a 4K projector. As a silver lining, projectors like Sony’s VPL-VW1000ES will upscale a regular Full HD picture to 4K quality, so you can improve the picture of your Blu-rays, video games and more.
If money is no object, then of course you should future-proof your home cinema setup with a 4K projector. Similarly, if you don’t have a particularly deep room, then a 4K projector will ensure you get the best quality picture for the size of the room you’re in – remember, with Full HD the closer you sit the poorer the picture will become.
On the flipside, 4K isn’t something most people will need in order to enjoy movies for a good few years to come. Most will be happy with Blu-ray quality and the step up from a HD TV to a Full HD projector and cinema setup will seem huge.
If the price of a 4K projector puts you off then there is a huge range of Full HD models available through AV specialists like Richer Sounds
Do you want 4K in your home, or are you happy with Full HD?