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Television Entertainment Technology

Latest TVs Are Ready for Their Close-Ups (wsj.com) 219

An anonymous share a WSJ article: The latest televisions have more pixels than ever. But can your eyes detect the difference? The answer is yes -- if you sit close enough. Old TVs had 349,920 pixels. High-definition flat screens bumped up the total to 2 million. Ultrahigh-definition sets inflated it to 8 million. And manufacturers are now experimenting with 8K TVs that have an astounding 33 million pixels. More pixels render hair, fur and skin with greater detail, but the benefit depends on viewing the screen from an ideal distance so the sharpness of the images is clear, but the tiny points of illumination aren't individually distinguishable. According to standards set by the International Telecommunication Union, that ideal distance is 3 times the height of an HDTV screen, 1.5 times the height of a UHDTV screen and .75 times the height of an 8K screen (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; here's a PDF copy of the newspaper). Given those measurements, viewers should sit 6 feet away from a 50-inch HDTV with a 24.5-inch tall screen. But they should sit just 3 feet from a UHDTV of the same size, closer than most Americans prefer.

Latest TVs Are Ready for Their Close-Ups

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  • by randomErr ( 172078 ) <ervin...kosch@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 09, 2017 @10:47AM (#55335557) Journal

    I have a 720 32" TV. Its good enough for the shows and games I play. Does that make me some how evil? The way marketing is going I feel that way sometimes.

    I like the higher resolution picture but I prefer content. That might be why I like to buy DVD's a lot of the time over a BluRay. Same content and cheaper.

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      I'm in the same boat - only at 1080p and 42" for my big screen video consumption of TV and movies. According to the math, my living room allows for an optimal viewing distance that' would support a 42" screen mid-way between 1080p and 4K, so I'd probably see *some* benefit from going to 4K, but I just don't see any point in trading in my current 1080p screen for it. That's not to say I don't know the difference between 1080p and 4K though - I already have a 4K monitor for video and image editing but, as An
      • Same, 42" 1080p - but it's a monitor - not a TV, it cannot receive broadcast signals. In my country if you have a TV in the house you have to pay a TV license fee, since I don't watch broadcast TV at all I gave my 720p TV away and bought the monitor. To be honest it gathers dust, we rarely watch anything on it, my wife and I both have PC's with multiple monitors, and we tend to watch stuffs on them. Perhaps it will change when we have kids, but at the moment it's simply there in case we need it.
    • 22" widescreen 1080p here, and I don't feel the need nor do I want want to upgrade to anything better. I use Netflix at the lowest possible setting because it's good enough.

      • 22" widescreen 1080p here

        Same for me. It's perched on an small, wooden stereo cabinet with a DVD player I deliberated purchased with no BluRay support.

        [*] As soon as they sell a feature to you, they count you as a user—see Google+—and then that statistic is rolled out to the studios to pressure them into dropping the format you actually use.

        Our minimal yet adequate television resides in the corner of the room. Once a week we roll the stand very close to the couch, and pogo both of the speaker

    • Same here. I use a 36" 1080i CRT and it's just fine. I probably won't get a new TV until it dies on me.
    • I'm happy with the resolution of the TV I watch movies on. I do sort of hope, some day, for a computer display that renders text so that it's as readable as print. I still buy actual books, printed on paper with ink on it, because after a while trying to read on a computer screen gets to me.
    • Sorry, Edward James Olmos :(

      • Laurence Fishburne, sitting in the front row of IMAX Matrix Reloaded. /shudder.

        Laurence didn't look that good blown up that large either.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I have some 32" 720p displays and they are fine for TV. Of course, the "HD" TV channels aren't full HD 1920x1080 anyway, and over-compression makes them look pretty bad, so for broadcast 720p is okay.

      Slightly odd reaction to feel "evil" at only having 720p... But still, I'm glad we have 4k because even though I'm sticking with my old 2k TV, it's great for computer monitors.

    • Does it make you evil? No. However according to marketers, their shills, rabid fanbois with more money than sense, and mindless early-adopters (who just have to have the latest regardless of need, sense, or if it's actually good) you're a 'luddite' and likely 'too old to understand' and will be taunted with accusations of telling people to 'get off your lawn', and the less polite of them will tell you you're 'old, and are going to DIE, SOON', and so on.

      However in reality what you are, is an intelligent p
    • I like the higher resolution picture but I prefer content. That might be why I like to buy DVD's a lot of the time over a BluRay. Same content and cheaper.

      So you don't actually care about higher resolution picture at all, otherwise you'd spend the money on it.

    • have a 720 32" TV.

      We have you beat! We still have an analog TV - 23" I think. Though to be fair, you can watch "TV" on any of our tablets or laptops - and that's what the kids do. We are about to buy a real TV for our living room and I'll properly surround-sound it for movies... but I suspect only us old folks will really use it.

    • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

      Content over quality. While there is some merit to what you say, I would be more opted to say it depends.

      It depends on what you are watching. If I want to be mindlessly entertained, then to me the quality doesn't really matter. I have a plex playlist of old tv shows, MASH, Giligans Island, Night Court, Hogans Heros, ripped from dvd with a few that came right off late night TV. So, yes, mindless entertainment that works.

      Same with most Hollywood movies. Most are crap, the ones where quality matter

  • by dalosla ( 2568583 ) on Monday October 09, 2017 @10:49AM (#55335573)
    The density race is pretty pointless as far as TVs on the wall go, but it has made for better monitors. I'm happy to have a 39" 4K monitor for a few hundred dollars, and I wouldn't have it if TV technology stagnated at 1080p.
    • Not at all. The point of higher densities is projectors. 4k or 8k might not matter on your 40-50" TV but it definitely matters on my 120" projector.
      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        120" projector

        So to benefit from this "progress" I'd have to dedicate a room to TV........

        Yeah. I'm not going to do that. The best part is that going forward I can safely ignore all future 8K, 16K etc. hype. Wonderful.

        • Most people do that, it's called a living room. We like a relaxing and subdued light level in our living room anyway and with a decently bright lamp in the projector this works great. Does it fade in the day vs the night? A bit, but it hardly compares with the sharp glare and reflections on most screens.

          It isn't for everyone. I love movies and I have a large enough room that there is a 12ft viewing distance in the living room and 20ft from the kitchen which is open concept and that large screen fits nicely
  • Not sure how long a bed is in feed. It is 2m and I have a 52" (weird how those are in inches) at the end of my bed and I can see the difference between 720 and 1080 if I pay real attention and they play next to each other. For TV 480 is what I watch and although not perfect is is almost always good enough.

    The TV is 5 years old or so and still works perfectly. If I need to replace it, it will be probably either the same quality, if they are still available or something that is as cheap as possible.

    I do have

    • Honestly, almost everything we watch is compressed and the compression/source quality tends to make a bigger difference than the resolution in image quality at that point.

      That said, some of us use projectors and 4k, even 8k would make a huge difference in the quality of my 120" screen in the living room.
      • almost everything we watch is compressed

        This is the real reason I'm a cord cutter. A plain old DVD looks better than an HD cable/satellite channel.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Generally people can see the difference between 1080p and 4k if they sit pretty close - closer than normal couch distance, but still relevant for real-world viewing.

      To see the difference between 4k and 8k the picture basically needs to fill your field of color vision (which is narrower than people think - the brain synthesizes colors at the edges). Relevant for movie projectors, but not much else.

  • Old TVs had 349,920 pixels.

    Which specifications were used to arrive at that number? I remember VideoCD used MPEG-1 at a resolution of 352x240 pixels (a total of 84480 pixels) and while it looked a bit pixelated on a CRT it didn't look four times worst than usual.

    • Digital recording for NTSC analog video. 486 scan lines times 720 samples per line. Aspect ratio is 4:3, so non-square pixels.
    • Well, that's already half the vertical resolution (and minus the overscan area which, in practice, generally had some viewable area despite "by definition" not.)

      Broadcast standards I believe mandated 704x480/576 (NTSC/PAL) for digitally stored video. While TVs could be substantially worse than that, higher quality color TVs and almost all monochrome TVs would have approached that resolution.

    • VideoCD approximates VHS quality, but with a bit more clarity. You're definitely at fourfold worse than DVD, though the difference is a lot more noticeable on some of the last-produced SD TVs that had better resolution.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      The number apparently comes from NTSC D1 (ITU-R 601), which has a size of 720x486, so 349920 pixels. But not all of those are displayed - so the TV itself wouldn't have that many pixels. 640x480=307200 would be more realistic, and was a common size for early flat panels.
      • 640x480 was the original highest definition of IBM's VGA cards for PCs, which is why early CRT monitors often had this definition--which early flat panels copied, as it tended to be the lowest definition supported by graphics cards at that point. It's certainly copied from the definition of standard def NTSC TV minus the overscan.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday October 09, 2017 @11:06AM (#55335665)

    So we can see even more clearer now that the programming stinks, that the sitcoms ain't funny and that the thrillers are formulaic, predictable and anything but thrilling?

    Seriously, I recently find way more entertainment in 30 year old shows than in the rubbish produced today.

    • Uh, yeah, my grandfather used to say the same thing about the "rubbish" they were producing 30 years ago and how the entertainment value of the stuff from the 40's was so much higher...
      • Was he wrong? Ever see a tv news cast from the 70's?
      • It actually was better back in the 40's in all ways but two... The acting was better, the direction was better, the writing was way better.... The only thing that wasn't better was the quality of the image and sound.

        Hollywood has turned all "good" TV shows into the same tired formula for political correctness reasons and then to pump up the ratings they throw in gratuitous sex or violence which usually adds nothing to the show, except shock value.

        However, I think we are actually turning the corner on so

      • Back in the early days of radio, movies, and television, all of the talent was focused on producing a relatively small volume of content. Everything had to appeal to general audiences because the movie theaters only showed one movie at a time and there were only a small handful of radio/TV stations.

        Today, content has evolved to fill hundreds of different niches. There are entire TV stations devoted to specific hobbies like fishing and podcasts about the most esoteric interests one can possibly think of. Tha

    • Depends on what you watch. Since I've signed up for Netflix I've watched a lot of enjoyable shows. What's on cable or satellite mostly sucks, the good shows are made by private networks such as HBO, Showcase, Sy-Fy (hate that name), Netflix, etc.

    • And lots of those were shot on film. Anything before about 1990 where the original prints still exist (and not just the telecined broadcast tapes) can be bumped up to at least 4K, though at 8K it's pretty much just sharper film grain. It was around 1990 when non-linear editing really hit its peak that shows were mostly shot directly on video. Everything from about 1990 to 2004 is hit or miss as to whether a high-fidelity transfer is even possible.

      And for many of those older shows, they actually had good

    • Ironically, in terms of screen-minutes The Andy Griffith Show is the biggest thing in my house. And it stopped production nearly 50 years ago.

    • Seriously, I recently find way more entertainment in 30 year old shows than in the rubbish produced today.

      There was better TV 30 years ago? A few TV shows from the top of my head, Knight Rider, ALF, Riptide, Manimal, and A-Team. Not great TV as I recall, just a mix of good to awful. I remember A-Team as something I looked forward to watching. ALF was campy fun. Manimal was memorable mostly because of how awful it was.

      If you want to talk about formulaic and predictable then look at A-Team, Knight Rider, or just about any other man vs. evil in the world show. Come to think of it the man vs. evil trope is pr

  • Admit the primary customers are rich porn addicts so we can move on.
  • Let's get more 4K content, then 8K, and beyond. That will help force ISPs to fatten up those pipes, and bump data limits.

    Personally, 720p is good 'nuf.

  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Monday October 09, 2017 @11:26AM (#55335817)
    In 8 billion pixels. I can't wait!
  • Lots of content is in a standard "tv" format of 640x480, DVD standard is 720x480 (576 pal) while the high end content commonly available is only HD at 1920 x 1080. 4k is 3840x2160, if you can even find 4k versions of the content you want to consume. To top this off, far to much content is compressed heavily at this resolution to lower the bandwidth, defeating the point of more pixels. All 8k is going to do is make the compression artifacts from all content even more crisp and clear. I've long wondered
    • Free tip: disable any "image enhancing" crap on your TV. Yes, video compression does destroy the image somehow (that's how it works) but all the "enhancing" done by the TV only makes the compression even more visible than it should.

      And make sure your TV is not stuck in "demonstration mode" otherwise all your settings will revert to the "it looks great for the showroom" with all that crap enabled.

    • This is why streaming still isn't as good as physical media. It's hard to see artifacts on a well-mastered Blu-Ray at 1080p. I haven't seen a 4K Blu-Ray, but since they use H.265 they should have plenty of room for a good quality image.

  • by theendlessnow ( 516149 ) * on Monday October 09, 2017 @11:34AM (#55335883)

    But they should sit just 3 feet from a UHDTV of the same size, closer than most Americans prefer.

    Unless it's a phone, then just strap the bad boy to my face!

  • Americans? Really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anubis IV ( 1279820 )

    But they should sit just 3 feet from a UHDTV of the same size, closer than most Americans prefer.

    This statement makes no sense. For one thing, what does being an American have to do with anything at all? Why would nationality affect how close people want to sit to their screens? Are the French so busy feigning disinterest that they need to sit that close to see what's on? Do the Brits need to sit that close because they have tiny screens they can quickly hide when the TV tax man comes around to collect? Would all of us Americans sit closer too, if not for the fact that our rampant obesity keeps us from

  • ... is, "as resolution goes up, you'll want a bigger screen if you don't want to move your couch".

  • "Given those measurements, viewers should sit 6 feet away from a 50-inch HDTV with a 24.5-inch tall screen. But they should sit just 3 feet from a UHDTV of the same size, closer than most Americans* prefer."

    *Closer than anyone prefers

    In other words, in a normal, living room application, HDTV and UHDTV with a 50" TV, the two are indistinguishable at comfortable viewing distances. Now if you have a 40" UHDTV as your computer monitor, you can still definitely tell the difference. The industry needs to fin

  • But they should sit just 3 feet from a UHDTV of the same size, ...

    There are better ways of going blind, like masturbating.

  • "...the benefit depends on viewing the screen from an ideal distance..."
    Actually, that only matters if FIRST the content is either delivered at that resolution or upsampled to it.

    Upsampling can be good, but never of course reaches the primary resolution value.

    Hell, what do I know? I'm still perfectly happy with my hi-def tv; I never jumped on the 3D or 4k bandwagons and don't feel like I missed a thing. Hell, I end up watching most of my films on my computer screen anyway.

  • I've heard people say similar things to rationalize why no one needs over 60 Hz or over 60 FPS in a video game. [quote]"The human eye can't distinguish a difference beyond 60 FPS! There's a reason films are shot at 24 FPS! and no one even notices!"[/quote] However, as a long-time competitive Counter-Strike player, I can easily detect the difference between 60 Hz and 100 Hz, or 100 Hz and 144 Hz. I actually kept a CRT monitor until 2012 because it could output at 100 Hz -- I had tried switching to LCD befo

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