3D TV? That's so 2011. 4K technology was the talk of IFA 2012, with LG, Sony, and Toshiba all showing off 84in 4K TVs. We stopped by Sony's booth to take a look, and also checked out the 20in 4K TVs Panasonic had on display.
4K sets are four times the resolution of a standard HDTV. Current HDTVs display content at 1,080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), or slightly lower 1,080 x 720 pixels resolution. 4K video is the next step in high definition, with a resolution of approximately 4,000 x 2,000 to 4,000 x 3,000, quadrupling or sextupling the number of pixels in the picture.
At this point, 4K-based TVs are limited to business users, thanks in part to their hefty price tags. LG's 4K TV, for example, will probably to set you back over £15,000. Still, what HD is to television picture quality today, 4K will be in the coming years.
Sony had its 84in 4K TV set up in the middle of its massive IFA booth. The flashing, overhead lights made it a bit more difficult to evaluate the screen, but despite the distractions, the picture was clearly stunning. If you have an extremely large living room and equally large bank account, the Sony set would definitely punch up an episode of Breaking Bad or Match of the Day.
Over at Panasonic, the company opted for a museum-like tour of its emerging technology, starting with four, 20in 4K TV sets running images of blooming flowers. In contrast to Sony's setup, the sets were located in a dark, quiet corner of the Panasonic booth, where I was able to get a closer look at the screens. Indeed, the blooming roses looked like you could reach out and touch them, and as close as I got to the screen, I couldn't detect any pixels.
Panasonic's booth also included a demonstration of a 145in 8K "Super Hi-Vision" TV (see photo, top). The oversized set was positioned down a narrow hallway, which gave it a cinematic appeal, but made it rather difficult to photograph.