Those that know me best know that I am a technology geek. I believe I get it from my father who for as long as I can remember was always up on new technology and to the remiss of my mother filled the house with gizmos and gadgets. It was regular place to be waking up on a Saturday morning walking into my dads room, there he was blaring his Al Green CD on his fancy new audio system trying to put together a computer he was making out of spare parts. I can say that I have been lucky throughout the years to be an early adopter to many of the new technologies that have come our way. For heavens sake I still have HD DVD’s and an HD DVD player lying somewhere around the house.
4K Televisions made its first big splash in 2013 at the yearly CES – consumer electronics and technology event in Las Vegas. At that time I was working as a manager in a very popular North American electronics chain. I remember laying my eyes on the first 4K TV demonstration that was shipped to our store. The colors were vivid, edges of buildings seemed sharper, and the detail of the faces on screen were as if they were standing talking to me in person. Of course as it is with all new technology the price point of one of these television sets was in the tens of thousands and quite out of my price range.
Fast forward a couple years and 4K TV’s have come down exponentially in price. It is starting to become more affordable to adopt the new televisions into your household. Many however have been waiting on content to become more readily available. Netflix and YouTube have started to stream various shows and videos in 4K resolution even if they are a little bit compressed. All of our television HD programs and even Blu-ray movies however are still rendered in 1080p. 4K UHD Blu Ray players made a big splash at this years CES show and should be showing up on your store shelves by April or May this year.
This brings us to the first ever Live 4K television broadcast in North America. Being a huge sports fan I was more than excited to find out that TSN would feature my beloved Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as the first ever North American live broadcast. Doing my research I found out that I had to accompany my Samsung Curved 4K TV with an upgrade of my digital HD box to a 4K box from rogers. The box was installed last week and suffice to say I was more then excited last night to be one of the lucky ones to watch the first ever live 4K broadcast.
Watching thousands of sporting events on TV and many from the Air Canada Centre itself through both TSN and Rogers broadcasts I was eager to see if I would notice any real difference from the usual HD broadcast and the new 4K resolution.
The pregame show began and what stood out and became very evident right away was how blue both Rod Black and Leo Rautins’ eyes looked. It was like they were piercing through my TV screen.
The game tipped off, the colors on the court seemed to be more vivid. The reds were more red the greens were more green. I really noticed how much sharper the colors were when looking at the borders of the court and the red color in the key.
During those close-up shots on various players faces the detail became more apparent. Little things stood out like the loose hairs in Kelly Olynyks’ man bun, the little hairs in Kyle Lowrys’ beard, and the details in DeMar DeRozans’ face.
Compared to the nature shows that are regularly shown on the rogers 4K preview channel I found that the live broadcast was not as impressive. Of course the signal sent to our digital boxes during a live broadcast is compressed compared to a true 4K signal. This can be the cause for some of the difference in picture quality. Compared to watching a game in 1080P while watching this game in 4K I didn’t feel like I noticed a huge difference. Other than the little things that I previously mentioned, as well as the picture being brighter and sharper it appeared to me that the jump from regular HD to 4K was not that substantial.
That was until I tuned in to watch Milos Raonic play his 2nd round match at the Australian Open on TSN’s regular HD channel once the basketball game was over. Although not as drastic as when you first switched from SD to HD the difference was noticeable. I felt like although Raonic was wearing his bright blue shirt with blazing orange arm sleeve it wasn’t popping like how the colors were on the 4K broadcast. The tennis court wasn’t as vibrant even little things like the details on the tennis players shoes compared to the details on the basketball players shoes was not as noticeable as the 4K broadcast. I look forward to watching the upcoming sporting events in 4K resolution to see if it truly does make a difference in my viewing experience.
For those looking to adopt this new technology. With the prices of 4K televisions plummeting as well as 4K content becoming more readily available throughout this year I would say this is finally the year when I believe many should jump on board.