How To Prepare For 4K TV Standards In Your Home Media Center

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    Recently I was having a discussion about the new video standards that increase the quality of video so it can be displayed on very large LCD TVs. The newest standard is 4k video and if you are looking at a TV that supports it you will understand there is a cost involved for being the first on your street to buy into it.

    You should also understand that these standards change fast and sometimes a newer standard replaces what you have very quickly. Because I am older I can remember black and white TV which was replaced by NTSC Color and then we moved into the digital standards. As we progressed there were a number of different products that never quite impressed me like rear projection TVs that offered a large display but took up half your room to do it. Then the Plasma Displays that looked really cool when I first saw one but just as production ramped up for these larger and more expensive Plasma TVs the LCD TVs started to replace them. Recently the last manufacturer in Japan has ended production of Plasma TVs and in all honesty both Plasma and Rear Projection never should have been released … but they were temporary patches or bridges to something better.

    Today we have very large LCD TVs in the 70 inch range that are pretty affordable if you make a lot of money or if you have a real need such as living in a rural setting where you can’t get to the city for the Movies. They offer a good entertainment experience and newer products are coming out every few weeks such as different lighting standards.

    What you purchase as one of the first people to own won’t be what most people own in three years and you can expect the newer TVS to cost much less and provide a better quality and longer durability.

    This is why I don’t jump right in on new standards. Normally I don’t upgrade my TV or Computer Products unless there is a specific need/requirement or until I have waited until about 50% of the products life. This means that the New 4K TVs will reach the cost of today’s TVs before I even think about upgrading and then I won’t upgrade until I find a really really good deal or my equipment needs to be replaced.

    What is the best way to prepare your Media Center for 4K Television?

    The first thing you should do is define what your needs are and what your system requirements are.

    For most people with a full home Media Center System there are Two Primary parts there is the box at the Television that provides video conversion to television signal that the TV Needs to display content… and then there is the System that stores or Aggregates Content so it can be distributed locally.

    To Upgrade to 4k means the video content must be 4K quality. If not then all you will be doing is upscaling lower quality video to a larger screen. If the screen is no larger than your current TV then you won’t see much improvement at all so you might as well have stayed with your old TV and watched your lower pixel rated video on it.

    Once you understand there are two parts of a Media Center System you can then understand that the storage or aggregation system normally does not need much upgrading to feed new content however with larger file sizes you may need to upgrade or install more storage and if you stream off the internet you will need to increase your data plan.

    You may also need to upgrade your local network to feed content from your storage system or online connection to your televisions but I would consider using Wired connections vs expensive Wireless routers if possible. Wired will give you much more throughput and will cost less. It will also give you buffer space where your network isn’t coming near its limits. Theoretical throughput of Wireless may be very high but interference in real world setting normally dramatically cuts that throughput due to weak signals and signal disturbance.

    Finally you want to make sure that the box at the TV can easily handle upscaling of older lower grade video to 4k and that it can provide good response when doing so. Many products now come with quadcore processors and dedicated secondary Video GPUs just for processing the video. You want to read reviews on their actual power. I have seen some processors that are lower grade models being sold for $10 less that would actually lose you 30% of the processing power but because the chip name is the same with the only exception of a x or a n on the end 3044n vs 3044 .. it can require very careful shopping.

    Final Note

    The new 4k video standard might be something that we all eventually upgrade to but it might not be. We all saw VGA change to HDMI but now HDMI is soon to be replaced. Eventually everything gets replaced because if it didn’t people wouldn’t buy new stuff and then companies would go bankrupt.

    When deciding to upgrade to 4k ask yourself…

    Is there enough 4k video to justify it.
    Will upscaling of my lower quality video improve my viewing pleasure?
    What other standards are right behind it.
    How can I do this the best way but the cheapest way.
    Should I get in right away or wait a bit.

    Personally I am easily entertained. You could give me a stick and throw me outside and I would be happy all day.. Unfortunately I don’t have the time in my life that I did when I was 5 but…

    I tend to wait until I at least fully understand new standards before I adopt them. I look at the cost / benefit and then decide if my investment will be replaced right away or down the line.

    If I can live with pulling my cash out of my pocket and paying up front then thats the time I move to the next standard. I don’t put things on a card that might be deprecated before I even pay them off.

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